Kaikorai wins regional sevens — just

Celebrating after their win yesterday are Kaikorai Bowling Club men’s sevens team members (from...
Celebrating after their win yesterday are Kaikorai Bowling Club men’s sevens team members (from left) Tane Payne, Craig McCaw, Tom Taiaroa, Jonty Horwell, Johnnie Potiki and Nigel Birkbeck, and (front) Russell Dawe. The team beat Fairfield in the final of the Dunedin regional interclub open men’s sevens to qualify for the national final in Auckland in April. PHOTO: WAYNE PARSONS
It was something of an arm-wrestle, but Kaikorai came away with the spoils when it defeated Fairfield 2-1 in the final of the Dunedin regional interclub open men’s sevens at the Taieri Bowling Club yesterday.

Both clubs rose to meet the intensity and pressure that comes with playing in a final, even if the weather deteriorated somewhat.

Wayne Hewitt got Fairfield away to a flying start when he defeated Kaikorai’s representative in the singles competition, Craig McCaw, 21-8.

Kaikorai made positive starts in the pairs and fours competition, and in the end it was the lead achieved in the opening ends that proved the difference between the teams.

The Kaikorai pair of Nigel Birkbeck and Tane Payne held out the persistent Fairfield pair of Reece Aiken and Doug Thomas 19-13.

Birkbeck and Payne shot out to an early lead but by the midway stage of the 18-end match, Aitken and Thomas had clawed their way back to close the game up. But three ends later Birkbeck and Payne had reached a 16-9 lead, only for the never-say-die Fairfield pair to keep clawing their way back only to drop the final two ends.

With each club on one win, the result of the regional qualifier, which would determine which club would represent the Dunedin centre at the national final of the interclub sevens in Auckland in April, hinged on the outcome of the fours, and if the green would hold out long enough as the rain gradually became heavier.

As was the case with the Kaikorai pairs combination, the Kaikorai four of Russell Dawe, Jonty Horwell, Tom Taiaroa, and Johnnie Potiki shot out to a handy advantage to hold an 8-3 lead after seven ends of what was an intense 15-end encounter against the Fairfield team of Russell Reynolds, John Latimer, Kris Newell and Mike Ayres.

It was punch and counter punch as Fairfield clawed its way back into contention with the score locked up at 13-13 going into the 15th and final end.

Potiki, the Kaikorai lead, played two sensational bowls to cover the jack with his two shots, which Horwell complemented, placing a third and covering behind with his two shots. Taiaroa placed his two bowls superbly also to limit the options for Fairfield.

Playing skip for Kaikorai, Dawe had the luxury of playing to cover with the head secured by the shot bowls of Potiki and Horwell, while Reynolds, the skip for Fairfield, was forced to drive, with both shots going wide of the mark.

Kaikorai recovered on the final end to win the fours contest 16-13 and secure itself as the regional qualifier two games to one.

"The rain changed the green a lot," Dawe said afterwards.

He added that after two weekends of competition, it came down to the final end.

"We were lucky with John’s [Potiki] two bowls covering the jack early on. You need a bit of luck, especially in fours as it can go either way."

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