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The series of finals to decide the players to represent the Dunedin region in the national finals early next month got away to a thrilling start with the encounter between transtasman representative Elliot Mason (Forbury Park) and Blackjack squad member Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (Gore) to decide the first national finalist of the day.
The two will arguably be part of the next generation of New Zealand bowlers on the world stage and their clash in the final of the World Indoor Singles competition cemented this prospect.
Mason (27), a purchasing officer with Bidfood in Dunedin, had not touched a bowl in four weeks and by his own admission felt underdone in his preparation.
But there was little evidence of this as he swept aside Jamie Nicol (Wakari) 13-1, 13-2 in the semifinals.
On the other side of the draw Bagrie-Howley battled his way to an 8-9, 11-1, 2-1 semifinal win over Nicol’s Wakari clubmate Adam McGregor to earn his place in the final.
The four-week break seemed to work for Mason, ranked 15th nationally, as he took the game to third-ranked Bagrie-Howley (26), an aircraft engineer at Mandeville.
The two locked the first of two sets up at 8-8, and in the second a repeat of this score looked likely until a miscue from Bagrie-Howley with his final bowl handed Mason three shots and an 11-7 victory for the regional title.
Celebrations continued for Mason as he witnessed twin brother Oliver win the Dunedin Regional World Indoor Pairs title with Queenstown’s Nick Buttar.
It was somewhat of a result of redemption for the pair, who were knocked out in the early rounds of the same competition. They beat the combination of Russell Dawe (Kaikorai) and Ray Webster (Stadium) 7-3, 6-8, 2-0.
Bagrie-Howley was not yet finished against a Mason, as he met Oliver Mason in the final of the International Open Singles, and was forced to dig deep when Mason took the first set 10-7 with some good control of the green.
But this control deserted him in the second set as Bagrie-Howley bounced back to a 10-1 victory in the second set to force a tie-break.
After dropping a shot in the first of three sudden-death ends he won the tie-break 3-1 to secure a place in the national finals alongside the Mason brothers.
Methven’s Jeff Nowell made the three-hour journey south worthwhile with an 11-6, 3-8, 2-1 victory over Bill Hinton (Andersons Bay).
Nowell appeared to be cruising to victory in the first set, but Hinton struck back with a sturdy resolve in the second to force a tie-break.
And only a lucky break on the third and final end of the tie-break secured him the victory and a place in the national finals.
- Wayne Parsons