T he achievement of the North Taranaki side to win the Welch Trophy indoor bowls title - the NPC of the sport - in Auckland on Sunday is one that cannot be understated.
North Taranaki's one-point win over Canterbury - a sign of things to come one hopes - denied the Christchurch-based side its fifth successive victory in the event.
"It's a real good feeling," team captain Grant Harvey said. "All the players except for the Ridleys and myself were crying. It was amazing."
The national final comprised six districts and is as much a test of endurance as anything else, with each player involved in 15 matches.
The first three games, in session one, were scheduled to start at 7pm on Friday, but a power cut meant matches did not start until 8.30pm. That meant an 11.30pm finish. But the players still returned fresh-faced at 9am on Saturday for a gruelling nine rounds.
Heading into the final session on Sunday morning, North Taranaki trailed Canterbury by five points. The two sides met in a fours match, with John Zittersteijn's side squaring off against New Zealand rep, Ashley Diamond.
In what must be a record given there were no replayed ends, the match over nine heads, lasted an incredible two hours and 22 minutes. Zittersteijn and his side of Lindsay Willis, Harvey and Mark Ridley held their composure the best to win the match 8-4. At the same time, Grant L'Ami's team of Sean Ridley, Alister Wilson and Paul Midgley won their game and suddenly Canterbury's lead was reduced to one point.
Both sides won five singles games from eight, meaning the last round of pairs would decide the contest. Canterbury managed only two wins. Wilson and L'Ami got home; Sean Ridley and Midgley lost; and Willis and Mark Ridley won a nailbiter, after the scores had been even playing the last end.
So it came down to the final game, with Harvey and Zittersteijn playing Graham Low (Southland). The experienced pair held their nerve, scoring a single on the last end to win 10-7 - and then the celebrations began.
Harvey lifted up Zittersteijn, exclaimed "we've done it!" and turned to his team-mates, still beaming, and said "I told you - self belief!"
"I could see the potential of this side.
"But I thought it may take us three years to win this," Harvey said, also noting that this victory felt much sweeter than the two he had enjoyed previously with Manawatu.
Harvey finished with 13 wins and one draw from his 15 games - a phenomenal performance in that company. Waikato's Robbie Frelan still holds the record after he won 14 and a half matches one year in the 1980s.
The victory was also a special moment for Wilson, 60, one of the gentlemen of the game.
He was also a member of the only other North Taranaki side to win the title in 1980.
They were Don Trigger, Neville Sanger, Kathy Epplett, Peter McGregor, Bill Bowling, Allan Tarrant and Bruiser Rowlands.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Have you lost faith in Taranaki rugby?Related story: Taranaki lose to Waikato
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates