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A mistake on the final end proved to be the undoing of the Kaikorai pair of Craig McCaw (skip) and Geoff Wilson, as Keanu Darby and Roger Stevens (North East Valley) lifted the men’s Dunedin centre open pairs title at the Kaikorai greens last evening.
For Stevens, the win made a long day and a hurried trip back from the Gold Coast worthwhile. He had been there for the past week supporting wife Bronwyn Stevens, who was playing in a transtasman competition with the New Zealand Development Team.
“I’ve been up since four o’clock this morning,” he said.
Stevens arrived at Queenstown Airport at 12.30pm, then made the threeand a-half hour road trip back to Dunedin. That left little time to get his eye in for a 5pm start to the open men’s pairs final.
"It’s been a long day,” he said of winning his first Dunedin centre title.
“Keanu really got us across the line. In post-section we really had a couple of real battles to get through.”
Darby and Stevens made hard work of reaching the final. They escaped a second-round battle against Bob Sanders and Peter Barrow (Wakari) with a 14-13 victory and in the quarterfinal found themselves down 12-1 down against Nigel Birkbeck and Tana Paine (Kaikorai). They came back to win 17-16 on an extra end.
Darby (23) is proving to be one of the most promising young bowlers in Otago. A semifinalist in the Speight’s North East Valley 10,000 at Labour Weekend, he was again in superb touch playing lead last evening. It was his second Dunedin centre title.
After the first five ends, he helped secure a 7-nil lead. But despite holding a four-shot lead on the sixth end, McCaw drove withhis final shot bowl of the end to drag the jack into the ditch and draw three shots. And luck followed the Kaikorai pair as they clawed their way back to draw level at 7-7 at the halfway stage. Keeping their nerve, Darby and Stevens secured another six scoring shots over the next three ends to jump out to a 13-7 advantage, with six ends to play.
But McCaw and Wilson clawed their way back to lead 14-13 heading into the 18th and final end.
Opting to play a long end, McCaw played his first bowl to draw close to the jack, but instead of nudging it closer to Wilson’s three shot bowls, he got the wrong side of it and it careered off over towards Stevens’ bowls. Darby played two sensational draw shots which secured the title for the North East Valley pair 15-14.
“We just did enough to scrape across the line,” a relieved Darby said afterwards.
Earlier, the Green Island combination of Faye Cosgrove and Lyn Rancewon the women’s open pairs title, defeating Bronwyn Stevens and Ange Francis (North East Valley) 15-11.