Havelock's Ali Forsyth had the spectators questioning whether there had ever been a greater final when he clinched the men's singles at the New Zealand bowls championships in Dunedin.
Forsyth produced an outstanding final bowl, running out the shot bowl of Sean Ingham (Broadbeach) to take the title 21-20.
Experience also prevailed over youth in the women's final, with Victoria's Helen King beating Tayla Bruce (Burnside) 21-14 in the Heartland Bank event.
The men's final ranks alongside the 1977 finale between Ivan Kostanich and Kevin Wing due to Forsyth's dramatic win.
For the majority of the match, Forsyth, 34, held the upper hand against Ingham, 19.
He led 10-5 and 19-13 in the race to 21. But Ingham battled away, claiming the next four ends.
Forsyth missed two drives - that impressive weapon was seldom seen on the day - on the penultimate head, a three giving Ingham the lead at 20-19.
On the last head, Ingham drew shot, while Forsyth drew two seconds. Forsyth's third bowl was wide, but he switched to the forehand with his last, and cleanly took off Ingham's shot.
"I had better options on the forehand," Forsyth said afterwards. "It's unexpected. I came with no expectation of winning the singles, so I came here in a relaxed mode and enjoyed it. It's still extremely special."
It was Forsyth's third singles win and his sixth triumph at the nationals.
King dominated the greater part of the women's final against Bruce, 18, who could not reproduce her form from earlier in the week.
King led 14-3 and 20-10 in the final, before Bruce fought back. She scored four successive singles, two resulting from excellent upshots, to claw back to 20-14, but King drew another fine shot on the last end which Bruce could not better. King, aged in her 40s, has plenty of good bowls behind her, and based on yesterday's performance, many more still to come.
"I think my age and experience helped me today," King said, before reflecting on what she agreed was her finest hour.
● BOWLS NEW Zealand president Ann Muir (Kensington) and Carolyn Crawford (St Clair) caused a massive upset in the final of the women's pairs.
The duo, who hardly knew each other before the week started, beat the 2008 world champions, Jo Edwards and Val Smith (United), 22-15 in the final.
Edwards and Smith started brightly enough, leading 5-1 after three ends, but the composite combination dominated the middle stages, especially the 10th and 12th heads. They scored five on each occasion, carrying them to an 18-7 lead, as the Nelson pair sprayed their deliveries around in the windy conditions.
Edwards and Smith pulled back their own five on the next, but that sniff was quashed by Muir when she drew a wonderful shot on the 14th end.
Crawford was now on top of Smith, and while Edwards altered the heads thereafter, the jack went against her on the 17th end, a three to Muir and Crawford confirming the result.
● BLACK JACK Tony Grantham (Birkenhead) produced two outstanding deliveries with his last two bowls to carry himself and Michael Nagy (Taren Pt, Sydney) to a tense 18-17 win over John Munro (Morphett Vale, Adelaide) and his brother, Ross Munro (Forbury Park) in the men's pairs decider.
Play at times was scrappy, especially by the leads, as Grantham opened up a 14-7 lead after 11 ends.
The Munro brothers, though, climbed back into the game, with skip John turning on a number of fine shots. That was especially true on the 17th head when he drew two shots and then ran off Grantham's recently arrived bowl.
The two points gave the Munros a two-shot lead playing the last, and lead Ross drew two handy bowls to give them the advantage.
However, Grantham, with his second bowl, ran the jack into the ditch and with Nagy's back bowl also in the count, the game was effectively tied up.
John Munro went into the ditch and then Grantham turned up his own bowl to increase the count to three and secure the championship for himself and Nagy.
- Sunday Star Times
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