Gary Lawson in a shock exit from national fours
Gary Lawsons hopes of a record-breaking 11th title at the New Zealand bowls championships are over - for another year at least.
Lawson, of the Victoria club in Wellington, and his team of Shannon McIlroy (Stoke), Dan Delany (Onehunga) and Ben King (Wilton) were eliminated from fours qualifying in Dunedin yesterday.
They incurred their third loss in the opening game yesterday morning to miss out, going down to Colin Lowery (Leeston) 19-17.
While Lawson has not attended a few nationals over the years, one bowls historian believed that the last time he failed to qualify was in 1990 in Christchurch when playing for the late Bill Kane.
Lawson was not the only prominent team to exit early, with the 2010 champion Alvin Gardiner (Elmwood) and singles semifinalist Kerry Becks (Kaikorai) other casualties.
Terry Scott's family team from North East Valley, twice runners-up in the event, made it through, but needed to go the full six rounds to get the necessary four wins to be among the 33 qualifiers.
Havelock's Ali Forsyth and Aramoho's Peter Belliss remain two of the strongest teams in contention. Both went through section play without a loss.
Another team to watch is Mike Kernaghan (Kaikorai), although a loss in round four, did provide a wake-up for the side.
There were no such surprises in the women's fours, with all the big names making it through. Pairs semifinalist Karen Hema (Carlton Cornwall) struggled the most, but her team sneaked through 19-17 in the final round over the winless Jenny Hamilton (Halswell) to qualify.
Jo Edwards (United) and her strong team advanced without a loss, while Mandy Boyd (Burnside) and Sandra Keith (Dunsandel) both won their first two matches yesterday to get through.
However, the post section draw this morning pits Boyd against Keith, meaning an early exit for one of the teams. While there were only 23 qualifiers in the women's fours, the field remains of a high quality, with 11 of the skips past winners at the championships.
The hard luck story of the day went to Mat Frankum's Kia Toa side of Shona Anderson, Janice Styles and June Cronin. After three wins on Sunday, they lost three yesterday to bow out.
Wellington has a strong representation in the women's fours. Leigh Griffin (Victoria) powered through section play without a loss. She is joined in post section by Judy Howat (The Park Kilbirnie) and Tanya Wheeler (Petone Central). Three Wellington connected teams got through in the men's event - Rob Ashton (Johnsonville), Brendon Gibson (Johnsonville) and Lou Newman (Victoria).