Baxter produces drawing masterclass to claim pairs title

GRANT HASSALL
Last updated 05:00 09/02/2013

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Nolantown's Graham Baxter broke a six-year hiatus when he turned in a sublime display of draw bowls as he and Paritutu's Margaret Farmer claimed the Taranaki mixed pairs title at Opunake yesterday.

Baxter and Farmer charged away over the second half of the final of the TSB Bank-sponsored event to beat New Plymouth's Warren Bellringer and Val McEldowney 17-6.

It was Farmer's second Taranaki crown, after she skipped the winning champion-of-champions fours in 2007.

The victory was Baxter's first Taranaki win in six years - his last came in the Christmas pairs in December 2006 - and officially his ninth in total.

Such was Baxter's form, McEldowney jokingly suggested he should be swabbed.

The opening exchanges of the final were even as indicated by the 5-4 scoreline in Bellringer's favour after seven of the 16 ends. It appeared certain the match would go down to the wire.

However, Baxter and Farmer then opened the game up with successive fives and a single on the 10th end put them in pole position leading 14-5.

Bellringer and McEldowney then stopped the rot with a single, but Baxter and Farmer scored three further singles to wrap up the game with two ends left.

In the semifinals, Bellringer and McEldowney scored an easy 22-8 win over Paul Digby and Bari Oliver (Stratford-Avon). In the other semi, Baxter trailed the jack on the last end to score three shots and allow him and Farmer to pip Kristin Stampa and Dick Wadsworth (Hawera Park) 17-16.

In the remaining quarterfinals played yesterday, Bellringer and McEldowney beat Kevin and Wilma Crawford (Opunake) 23-15, while Stampa and Wadsworth overcame Roger Gregory and Ann Brophy (New Plymouth) 18-3.

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