Bagrie-Howley, Mason see off youngsters to defend title

Elliott Mason (left) and Sheldon Bagrie-Howley  display the spoils of victory in the Kittyhawk...
Elliott Mason (left) and Sheldon Bagrie-Howley display the spoils of victory in the Kittyhawk under-30 optional mixed pairs held in Dunedin on Saturday. Photo: Wayne Parsons
The cream rose to the top at the Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium on Saturday.

The combination of Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (Gore) and Elliot Mason (Forbury Park) successfully defended the Kittyhawk under-30 optional mixed pairs title.

Despite dropping their first game in section play to the southern combination of Alex Cross (Riversdale) and Kerry Heffer (Te Rangi) 9-7, Bagrie-Howley and Mason hit their straps to qualify for the division one playoffs in post-section.

Only two teams remained undefeated after some competitive matches in section play.

The combination of Tom Taiaroa (Kaikorai) and Jack Laney was the only team to reach the final undefeated.

On the other side of the draw, the North East Valley pairing of Keanu Darby and Brooke Craik were the only other combination to go through section play without a loss.

They fell at the semifinal hurdle to Taiaroa and Laney 10-5.

Taiaroa and Laney may have taken the favourite's tag into the division one final, but Bagrie-Howley and Mason stole their thunder. They played superb bowls on the draw and drive.

No strangers to pressure bowls at national level, the defending champions proved a class act from the first bowl.

Down one on the first end, Bagrie-Howley's drive shot clipped the shot bowl and drove
the jack sideways to secure
two shots.

While Taiaroa and Laney bounced back to hold a 3-2 lead after three ends, Bagrie-Howley and Mason stole a match scoring some big ends.

That kept their opponents scoreless to wrap the contest up in nine ends with a 17-3 victory.

It was a result made to order for Bagrie-Howley (24) and Mason (25), as the two remain under the watch of the New Zealand selectors.

Bagrie-Howley is already in the New Zealand development squad, and it could be only a matter of time that Mason, too, is included.

"We always seem to be a bit loose in that first game for some reason," Bagrie-Howley said, referring their first round loss.

"There is no bigger pressure than playing two people that are literally half your age."

While Bagrie-Howley will be focusing on national development commitments and the Burnside under-26 at the beginning of October, top-competition continues for Mason next weekend with the second round of PBA.

The division two final proved a tight contest, with the combination of Bradley Torrence (Forbury Park) and Cole Scammell (Tapanui) winning a low-scoring 4-2 contest over brothers Cam and Mitch Cook (Brighton).

Cross and Heffer delivered a one-sided 20-3 victory over the promising Wakari club brother and sister combination of Bayley and Shelby Marsden in the third division playoffs.

In individual competition there was consolation for Laney, who won the driving competition in a David-and-Goliath shootout with promising junior Cooper Stumbles (Forbury Park).

BJ Carroll (Taieri) won the drawing competition in a shootout against last year's driving champion Scammell.

Elliot Mason (left) and Sheldon Bagrie Howley display the spoils of victory in the Kittyhawk under-30 optional mixed pairs held in Dunedin on Saturday.

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