'Dare to believe' speech aids Taranaki bowlers

The Taranaki men's side that won the intercentre contest, from left, Craig Johns, Steve Walker, Dennis Osborne, John ...

The Taranaki men's side that won the intercentre contest, from left, Craig Johns, Steve Walker, Dennis Osborne, John Garrud, Cameron Nairne, Scott Roberts, Dean Elgar, David Hilton Bennett (selector) and Don Christensen (manager).

Taranaki are back on top of New Zealand bowls.

The Revital Fertilisers Taranaki men claimed the national intercentre title in thrilling and deserving fashion in Christchurch on Sunday.

And what a team effort it was in the final against Marlborough and throughout the competition.

Dean Elgar set Taranaki up for the win in the final with a superb exhibition that was largely based on accurate draw play. He beat the 1998 national fours winning skip Andre Smith 25-9, after it had been 6-5 early.

A six on the fourth end put Cameron Nairne and Scott Roberts in front in their pairs game against Warren Brown and Josh Boyd. It was a lead they never lost, although with the score at 14-12 with three ends to play, and two down on the head, things were looking dicey.

But Roberts drove the jack into the ditch for three and added the bonus, to effectively seal the contest.

Nairne and Roberts eventually claimed the match 19-13, which settled the overall issue.

At that stage, the fours match was called off, with Dennis Osborne, John Garrud, Steve Walker and Craig Johns trailing Sanjhe Prasad 12-10 after 12 ends but holding three on the head.

"This morning I told the boys to dare to believe," Taranaki selector, David Bennett, said while doing well to hold back the tears.

"I'm so proud of the team. To fight back the way they did is immense."

Taranaki wore down Wanganui in the semifinal, winning two games.

Dean Elgar broke free from 7-7 with Bruce Winterburn, turning it up a level to win 25-11.

With Osborne leading well and Johns playing some crucial shots, the fours, also after being 7-7, triumphed 15-9 over Ray Park.

The pair lost 14-12 on the last bowl to Bernie Anderson and a hot Ian Porteous.

Taranaki's quarterfinal win on Saturday was a brilliant effort, beating a Nelson seven containing two current New Zealand reps, Ali Forsyth and Shannon McIlroy, and two past internationals, Andy Curtain and Richard Collett.

Forsyth beat Elgar in a game of high quality 25-18, but with Roberts on fire, he and Nairne overcame Curtain and Murray Scott 18-11.

That meant it all came down to a tense fours game. With Garrud playing his best bowls of the competition, Taranaki scored two shots on each of the last two ends to win 15-11.

Earlier in the day, Taranaki had gone through the last two rounds of section play unbeaten to sneak into the quarterfinals by one match point.

However, there were no major reversals for Taranaki in the women's competition, which saw Canterbury beat Nelson in the final.

All three disciplines had a loss and a win on Saturday and finished fifth in its pool. From the five games played, Rhonda Adams and Gloria Shaw had three wins, the four of Carol Pearce, Anne Brophy, Pauline Davy and Gale Fache had two wins and one draw. Debbie Wilford won once in the singles.

 - Taranaki Daily News

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