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Kelly (29), a member of the Dunedin PBA, was ranked second after the preliminary five-game round-robin competition at the Deer Park Bowls Club. He beat second-ranked Australian Garry Ball 5-6, 10-5, 2-1.
Five preliminary rounds decided the top three players from each team, who then played off in a best-of-three series to decide the Trans Tasman Challenge.
Dylan Fisher won the first game of the finals for Australia, beating Murray Glassey 12-9, 12-3. David Holt (Australia) easily beat Bart Robertson 9-3, 11-2 in the final game, to become the Australasian champion. Australia retained the Trans Tasman trophy and took a 5-3 lead after the eighth annual PBA international contest.
Australia won the preliminary five rounds by 13 matches to 12. Kelly, a Christchurch engineer who travels to Dunedin for regional PBA events, grew up in Oamaru and started playing bowls at Waitaki Boys’ High School.
In the preliminary rounds he beat Ball 14-1, 3-11, 2-1, Carla Krizanic 6-8, 10-5, 2-1 and David Holt 9-9, 10-4. It was the only game Holt lost.Kelly lost to World Bowls double silver medallist Barrie Lester 14-5, 7-6 and Dylan Fisher 8-6, 12-4.
The final New Zealand placings after the preliminary rounds were: Robertson three wins and four sets, Kelly three wins and 3.5 sets, Glassey two wins and 4.5 sets, Laurie Guy two wins and three sets, Craig Merrilees two wins and 2.5 sets.
Robertson keeps his spot in the New Zealand team for next year’s Trans Tasman Challenge. The other four places will be decided at the New Zealand finals weekend, at the new Naenae complex in Wellington, from September 8-10.