Early post-section exit for defending singles champion

Past glories and reputations counted for nothing yesterday when post-section play in the men's singles got under way at the national championships in Dunedin.

Defending champion Dean Elgar (West End) made an early exit in the first round of the day's play, succumbing to the might of Sean Thompson (Oxford) 21-11.

The game was locked up at 11-11 at the midway stage, but then Elgar dropped two shots and never recovered.

''He picked it well,' Elgar said of the green running at a quicker 19-20sec, as opposed to an ideal 15-17sec for the championships.

''That's what happens in bowls.''

Gary Lawson, holder of 11 national titles, was another to be eliminated yesterday, succumbing to Shaun Scott 21-9, while Scott himself was eliminated in the fourth and final round of post-section by Scottish international Ryan Burnett (Broadbeach).

Mike Kernaghan, the 2015 champion, Richard Girvan, Peter Belliss, Jamie Hill and Jim Scott were among others eliminated from singles play yesterday.

Two Blackjacks to make it to the quarterfinals were Tony Grantham (Browns Bay) and 2016 men's national singles champion Shannon McIlroy (Stoke).

In the quarterfinals on Saturday, McIlroy will meet Don Cameron (Hikurangi), Grantham plays Caleb Hope (Gore), Andrew Kelly (Canterbury) takes on Petar Sain (Carlton Cornwall), and Seamus Curtin (Stokes Valley), who accounted for Kernaghan yesterday, meets Burnett.

In women's pairs post-section play, defending champions Dale Rayner and Ashleigh Jeffcoat, who had a bye in the first round, had a second-round match scare against last year's pairs semifinalists Reen Stratford and Linda Ralph.

Down 13-14 after 17 ends, the defending champions had their backs to the wall heading into the 18th and final end.

Jeffcoat drew two shots with her four bowls, only for Reen, playing skip, to steal the shot by the narrowest of margins.

However, luck then intervened and Reen's bowl tipped backwards to leave Rayner and Jeffcoat the shot.

Although Reen went close with her next three bowls, the shot remained with Rayner and the match appeared to be heading towards a sudden-death extra end.

But Rayner played a super shot that curved around a cluttered head to sit next to the shot bowl to score two on the final end and secure the match and progress from post-section play with a 15-14 victory.

It was a similar game in the second round for Blackjacks Amy McIlroy and Selina Goddard in their match against the Papakura pair of Natarsha Grimshaw and Leanne Poulson.

The match see-sawed throughout with the score locked up at 12-12 heading into the 18th end.

But with McIlroy playing superb draw shots and Goddard zoning in with pinpoint accuracy on the head, the pair secured a 14-12 victory.

But there was little time for McIlroy and Goddard to celebrate as they met fellow Blackjacks Jo Edwards and Val Smith in the third round.

Edwards and Smith romped home 21-4 and will meet defending champions Rayner and Jeffcoat in the first semifinal on Saturday.

On the other side of the draw, games went much to prediction with the composite Blackjacks pairing of Katelyn Inch and Tayla Bruce making it through to met the Elmwood Park pair of Bev Morel and Sherrie Cottle.

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