Mixed pairs contest attracts large field

GRANT HASSALL
Last updated 08:41 06/02/2013

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There is no Waitangi Day rest for several leading bowlers, with the Taranaki mixed pairs tournament starting on various coastal greens today.

Despite the event being changed to midweek, concerns over entries have been ill-founded, with 70 pairs in the field, six more than last year.

Defending champion Val McEldowney has a new partner this year.

With her husband, Grayson, skipping one of 11 Taranaki teams in the Clubs NZ event in Tauranga this week, she has secured the services of New Plymouth clubmate Warren Bellringer. The field also includes last season's runners-up from Fitzroy, Janice Ropitini and Don West.

Opunake will act as headquarters for the TSB Bank-sponsored event, with post- section play tomorrow and on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Clubs NZ tournament has surpassed the men's Taranaki open in size for the first time.

The Taranaki open had 194 teams this year, with the Tauranga tournament having two more. With next season's Clubs NZ event in Whanganui, the numbers for this year's open should be seen as a wake-up call for local administrators.

While the argument that the nationals have reduced entries for this year's open has some credibility, there is plenty of work and shoulder-tapping required to convert prospects into players next year.

The Taranaki men's side has been announced to compete for the White Eagle Trophy against Hawke's Bay and Manawatu in Palmerston North next weekend.

The intention of the fixture was to give the top seven players some good match play ahead of the intercentre contest, which starts in Auckland on February 22.

However, singles player Darren Goodin and fours skip Grant Anderson are unavailable for the Palmerston North trip.

Selector Dennis Osborne has been further hampered with Dean Elgar and Gerry O'Sullivan, both regulars in recent seasons, and John Gray unavailable.

Unlike previous seasons, the second side for the White Eagle Trophy fixture is considered a B team as opposed to a 10-year- and-under side.

However, Osborne has opted to include three third-year players from West End - Dave Wilson, Steve Walker and Jordan Linn.

Wilson has been given a grand chance in the singles, Walker will slot into the A fours - with Mark Anderson and Bruce Phillips moving up one position - while Linn will lead in the other four for David Bennett.

While it could be argued the side has a rough look to it, Bennett's return to the fold is well deserved after his splendid season.

The second singles role has gone to Rahotu's underrated Neil Jury.

Jury has been twice a semifinalist in centre events this season, and is a past Bay of Plenty singles winner.

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TARANAKI (to play Hawke's Bay and Manawatu): singles, D Wilson, N Jury; pairs, J Roberts, C Johns; S Roberts, R Hardy; fours, J Garrud, S Walker, M Anderson, B Phillips; J Linn, I Lowry, G Hassall, D H Bennett.

- Taranaki Daily News

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