The spectators were reaching for the superlatives as Canterbury's Andrew Kelly defeated Carlton Cornwall's Wally Marsic in the feature game of the day in post section of the men's fours at the New Zealand bowls championships in New Plymouth yesterday.
The third-round clash turned into a fascinating contest as Kelly triumphed with his last bowl on an extra end, in a match that lasted four and a half hours and featured 11 killed ends.
Marsic and his side of Neil Fisher, Steve Cox and Colin Rogan had the better of the match, leading 9-2 after seven of the 18 ends. Shortly after a four gave them a 17-10 lead with just four ends to play.
It should have been enough.
But Kelly, playing with Dan Delany, Chris Le Lievre and Raika Gregory, fought back with two threes. A single to Marsic made it a two-point variance playing the last end.
Then the fun really began.
Kelly killed the first attempt, Marsic the second, Delany the third, and Kelly the fourth.
Finally, Kelly drew an absolute beauty with his last bowl at the fifth go at the 18th end which gave his side two shots and forced the game into overtime.
Marsic killed the first extra end. On the replay, Cox drew a front toucher, which in the gale-force conditions was a mighty feat. Kelly's first drive missed, but his second was on target. The shot bowl and jack went flying. The jack rebounded off Le Lievre's back bowl and landed in the ditch, leaving Kelly with the shot.
While the conditions made play very rugged, the tenseness and pressure drives on offer were top-shelf.
"We weren't organised enough at the start," a relieved Kelly said afterwards. "But we stuck in there and that's what you get, I guess."
This morning Kelly meets Tauranga South's Graham Skellern and his side of Paul Anderson, Chad Grant and Ray Wilson.
Skellern, originally from Inglewood, had his first interest in the sport sparked by one of Taranaki's finest skips, Barney Spurdle.
Yesterday, Skellern produced a Spurdle-like performance himself as his side trounced the 2010 winner Alvin Gardiner (Elmwood) 25-5, after leading 15-0.
The big surprise was the demise of Aramoho's Peter Belliss in the third round.
His composite lineup fell to Eastbourne's Ray Lovie 21-16.
Belliss slipped 14-0 behind after five ends, and while he was back in the hunt at 14-11 down six ends later, Lovie and his side of David Walker, Grant Simms and Shane Rogers cribbed out to win.
Lovie meets Brian Baldwin (Musgrave Hill) today. Baldwin, who beat Nick Grgicevich (Mt Albert) 20-13, has his regular team-mate Gary Mounsey and fine Paritutu draw players, Darren Goodin and John Reid.
Plenty of other big names remain. Havelock's Ali Forsyth meets Cabramatta's Rowan Brassey in another quarterfinal, with the other clash between Palmerston North's Pat Horgan and Onehunga's Richard Girvan.
Horgan scraped through 14-12 over the fellow Manawatu team of Grant Davis (Northern).
Quarterfinal draw for today at Paritutu, starting at 8.30am:
G Skellern, P Anderson, C Grant, R Wilson (Tauranga South) v A Kelly, D Delany, C Le Lievre, R Gregory (Canterbury)
B Baldwin, D Goodin, G Mounsey, J Reid (Musgrave Hill) v R Lovie, D Walker, G Simms, S Rogers (Eastbourne)
R Brassey, B Prideaux, R Hassall, B Hassall (Cabramatta) v A Forsyth, M Gallop, L Gallop, G Watson (Havelock)
P Horgan, P Skoglund, G Cooley, R Ellery (Palmerston North) v R Girvan, S McIlroy, K Robinson, L Pascoe (Onehunga)
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