Bowls: Seasoned pro meets youthful Kelly gang

The Kelly gang is pitted against ''old pro'' Rowan Brassey in the fours final at the Paritutu Bowling Club this morning.

Andrew Kelly (24) first made his mark on the national bowls scene when he led his teenage four to the final of the fours in Wellington in 2006.

Since then, he has hovered around the top echelon of New Zealand bowls but he was not able to crack it at the top level until he won the fours title in Auckland last year.

Kelly, who grew up in Oamaru and was educated at Waitaki Boys' High School, won the world junior singles title in 2010 and came close to getting into the Black Jacks for last year's World Bowls.

He has a promising team that includes Dan Delany (34), who was runner-up in the singles last week. The other members are Chris Le Lievre (27), who was in Canadian Ryan Bester's team that won the fours in 2008, and Raika Gregory (29), who won the New Zealand secondary schools singles title in 2000.

The Kelly gang beat Graham Skellern's Composite four 19-17 in a closely fought quarterfinal and eliminated Brian Baldwin's Composite team 16-8 in the semifinal.

Kelly was in full flight from the start and gained a two, two and three on the first three ends to jump to an early 7-0 lead that he never surrendered.

Brassey (56) is one of New Zealand's most successful international bowlers and has won two World Bowls titles.

He has won seven New Zealand championship titles, the last being his sixth title in the fours in Wellington in 2003.

Brassey, who was rated the best lead in World Bowls during his international days, has broadened his game since joining the competitive Sydney league with the Cabramatta Club. He is now an accomplished skip, as he has shown during the championships in New Plymouth.

This was demonstrated in the quarterfinals when Ali Forsyth's Composite team was beaten 20-7. It was Brassey's tactical nous that restricted Forsyth's score on the five ends where he had the edge.

Forsyth skipped the winning four in Dunedin two years ago and was third in Kelly's winning four last year.

The other members of Brassey's team are Beau Prideaux (Cabramatta) and the Hassall brothers, Rodger (Paritutu) and Brett (Avondale).

In the semifinals, Brassey beat Black Jack Richard Girvan's four 16-9. The team included Shannon McIlroy, who won a bronze medal in the singles in World Bowls in Adelaide.

Sandra Keith (Dunsandel) is poised to win her second title at the championships in the women's final.

Her fours team includes Serena Matthews, who was her partner in the winning women's pair. They are joined by clubmates Pam Clarke and Karolyn Boon.

They had a comfortable semifinal win against Liz Johnstone (Composite) 21-7.

The local Paritutu team, skipped by Heather Johns, had a tougher task in beating Helen Grey's team of veterans 17-16.

Grey (81) was the oldest player in the Vogeltown team. All the other team members were over 73.

Both the men's and women's finals start at the Paritutu club greens at 9am today.



The match-ups
Fours finals


Venue: Paritutu Bowling Club, New Plymouth.

Time: 9am.

Men: Andrew Kelly (skip), Danny Delany, Chris Le Lievre, Raika Gregory (Composite) v Rowan Brassey (skip), Beau Prideaux, Rodger Hassall, Brett Hassall (Composite).

Women: Sandra Keith (skip), Serena Matthews, Pam Clarke and Karolyn Boon (Dunsandel) v Heather Johns (skip), Val Keightley, Debbie Smith, Caroline Harris (Paritutu).

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