Magnificent seven all geared up
The seven-strong South Canterbury men's team are off to Auckland to take on the who's who of New Zealand bowls at the intercentre championships.
The in-form Barrie Andrews will play the singles and is on target to upset a few of the guns.
In the pairs Richie Kerr will skip up-and-coming 15-year-old Keanu Darby.
Darby will be out to impress the selectors in his first senior outing on the national stage and has every chance of making the New Zealand age-group teams.
The four is made up of the unbeaten team of Dinga Bell, Des Shea, Jim Kane and Alan Wilkinson. Bell is in his best form and his right-hand man Shea is progressing into being a top South Canterbury bowler.
Kane and Wilkinson have been in magnificent form this season, winning two centre titles, and Wilkinson is by far the best lead in South Canterbury this year.
South Canterbury are, however, up against the heavyweights, facing Auckland, Wellington, South Otago, Far North and Taranaki.
There are 24 teams in the tournament divided into four sections, with the top two from each qualifying for the quarter finals. Defending champions Auckland have some obstacles to overcome when the intercentre bowls competition commences in Auckland today.
Auckland have had a late change forced upon them following the withdrawal of New Zealand representative Tony Grantham from the singles. His position in the singles has gone to New Zealand development representative Greg Ruaporo.
After a less-than-satisfactory showing last weekend, Wellington have rejigged their team, with Rob Ashton now in the singles and Justin Goodwin transferring across to lead for Lance Pascoe in the pairs.
Section two shapes as an intriguing battle. Canterbury and Manawatu, both recent winners, should be well served in the singles by Andrew Kelly and Ross Ellery respectively, while Dunedin, who have won the event more often than any other centre, Waikato and Gisborne East Coast also present capable lineups.
Northland sneaked into the finals last season and they appear in section three alongside Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay.
Nelson, with Shannon McIlroy in the singles and Andy Curtain skipping the pair, loom as the strongest side in section four, with North Harbour, Wanganui and Southland all eyeing the second qualifying berth.
The semis and finals are scheduled for Sunday at the Howick club.
The Timaru Herald