Dean Elgar and Scoot Roberts fly the flag at nationals

Dean Elgar won the national singles title last week.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Dean Elgar won the national singles title last week.

Dean Elgar's crowning achievement brought what was a successful national tournament to a close on Sunday, albeit without the same vitality as four years ago, when Taranaki last hosted it.

Nothing can diminish Elgar's success at the event. He was clearly in outstanding touch and deserved to claim a title.

He was the man who harnessed a useful team through to the fours final by playing a number of big shots during post-section play.

Gerry O'Sullivan, at third, was the perfect foil with his relaxed temperament. Lead John Garrud has been a fixture in Taranaki's top seven for a number of years now, while Neil Candy finally put out on the green what he is capable of producing.

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It was most unfortunate the front three struggled at the start of the final, which allowed Peter Belliss to find his grove.

Elgar's singles thumping of Belliss and amazing win in the final should bring him into national reckoning, even if the progression path these days is heavily focused towards people under 30. Belliss knows all too well people of Elgar's age, with greater life experience, are excellent value.

Nolantown's Scott Roberts gave a good account, winning two games of post-section in each discipline. He needs to travel to more nationals, just as Elgar has done over a number of years.

The other Taranaki man to catch the eye was Opunake's Kevin Deegan, who in fact lives in Cairns. Skipping his brother, Paddy, to the quarterfinals of the pairs would have surprised many.

Deegan has been playing in Tropical Far North Queensland for 14 years and has amassed a number of victories, including four district singles titles.

Taranaki's women inevitably found the going tougher this time. Val Keightley, a pairs semifinalist, and Val McEldowney, a pairs quarterfinalist, did well enough after their championship success four years ago.

But overall, the X-factor seemed to be missing from the championships this time. Perhaps it was the playing of all three events together, when singles and pairs should be played to completion first.

Or perhaps it was the wet weather that caused the greens to be a rung lower than four years ago and upset the programme, or the shambles of players moving between disciplines at the business end of the competition, which made it very difficult for those involved.

Or perhaps it is just a tired hack frustrated by a lack of space and early deadlines.

Whatever, the 2017 nationals will forever be remembered in these parts as Dean's Dominion.

❑ A number of players, and workers who remained equally as dedicated as four years ago, will be backing up again next week, with the 112th TSB Bank men's open fours.

There has been one late change to greens, with those sections who had drawn Fitzroy No1, now playing at Stratford No1.

❑ We all know the difficulties of membership in bowls. If it isn't recruitment, it's retention. But the Waitara club seemed to have turned around what was a concerning trend in its women ranks.

Waitara now have 22 women, 11 of them juniors, with 10 of those being of three years or less experience.

Bringing the new ones through in groups is so much easier for all.

 - Stuff

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