Bowls: Birkbeck Wakari's go-to guy

Nigel Birkbeck
Nigel Birkbeck
Nigel Birkbeck has now assumed the elite competitive mantle for the Wakari Bowling Club that used to sit on the shoulders of club stalwart Dennis Leeden, who died suddenly in February.

Leeden had made his mark in PBA events and won six Bowls Dunedin titles. He also did a lot of work around the club.

''It was a big loss for our club,'' Birkbeck said.

''He gave a lot to the club in time and physical effort.''

Birkbeck (48), the owner of BJB Securities, is now the player the club relies on to give it prestige in centre events.

He did that this week when he and Kieran Fleury won the open pairs title when they beat Grant Stumbles and Dylan Edwards (Forbury Park) 18-13 at the Kaikorai green. It was Fleury's second title.

It was the second centre title for the Wakari club since the death of Leeden early this year.

Leeden skipped the Wakari four that won the open fours last January but collapsed and died a few weeks later.

The bowlers found the green difficult to play accurate draw bowls and both teams conceded big early points.

Birkbeck gained a five on the early ends but conceded a four and the game was poised at 12-12 after 14 of the 18 ends.

The Wakari combination took control of the game when it scored on five of the last six ends.

''We got closer to the jack at the end when they had two bad ends,'' he said.

Fleury dominated the lead bowls on each head with his accurate draw bowls.

Birkbeck will return to his roots on the Coromandel Peninsula when he has a holiday at the beach with his family.

He had his first roll-up on the local green with his grandfather when he was a 9-year-old.

Birkbeck started serious bowls as a 15-year-old when he was a pupil at Otago Boys' High School.

But he has one more task to achieve before going on holiday. He wants to help the Wakari team win the division 1 Dunedin inter-club sevens at the Taieri greens on Sunday and qualify for the regional finals.

The Wakari team is Nathan Yates (singles); Kieran Fleury, Nigel Birkbeck (pairs); Bryan Williamson, Stephen Hughes, Ray Anderson, Peter Barron (fours).

Wakari plays Andersons Bay in the semifinals and Forbury Park faces North East Valley in the other semifinal.

Draw for the men's division 2 at North East Valley:

Taieri v Outram, St Clair v Andersons Bay, Outram 2 v Port Chalmers, Caversham v Fairfield.

Women's division 1 draw at Balmacewen: St Clair v Green Island, Fairfield v North East Valley.

Women's division 2 draw at Fairfield: Taieri v Logan Park-Business Women, Tainui v Andersons Bay.