Lawson relieved record his

Debbie Wilford delivers a bowl in the first round of the PBA world indoor singles final in...
Debbie Wilford delivers a bowl in the first round of the PBA world indoor singles final in England earlier this month. Photo: supplied.
Gary Lawson’s  seven-year wait ended this month when he won his record 11th New Zealand open title in the pairs in New Plymouth.

Lawson (51) drew level with the great Nick Unkovich (Auckland) when he won the pairs in Wellington in 2010.

He got the jitters when Danny  O’Connor was in Peter Belliss’s winning four two years ago and drew level with Unkovich and Lawson with 10 titles.

O’Connor was also runner-up in the pairs  two years ago and could easily have beaten Lawson to the target.

Lawson grew up in a bowls family. His father, Stan Lawson, won the New Zealand singles title in 1968 when his son was aged 3.

Lawson and his father played together in the pairs final in 1990 when they were beaten by Dunedin’s Gordon Duggie and Bruce Malcolm.Lawson now stands alone at the top with the most New Zealand open championship titles. He also won  gold medals in the pairs and fours at World Bowls in 2008.

But there is one event missing from Lawson’s CV. He has never won the North East Valley Invitation singles.

The two women who have added a bar to their gold star in the open championships are Cis Winstanley (Marewa, Hawke’s Bay), with 15 titles, and Millie Khan (Matamata, Waikato), on 11.

Mother, son in final

The mother-and-son team of Annie and Craig McDonald (Awamoa) qualified for the national finals of the mixed pairs in Dunedin in March when they beat the husband and wife combination of Rowan and Dorothy Breen (Meadowbank) 10-8 in the North Otago final.

Phoenix’s Bruce Kelly  and Roger Leek  both won their 12th centre titles with a comfortable 18-10 win over Craig McDonald and Bob Wilson (Awamoa) in the men’s centre pairs.

Meadowbank’s Daphne Campbell won her third North Otago title of the season in the women’s centre pairs with clubmate Mary Watson in a three-team round-robin post-section.

It was the 14th centre title for Campbell and the second of the season and ninth for Watson.

Six teams from the Oamaru Charter Club will attend the men’s national clubs championship in Mount Maunganui on February 6-10.

Loss on differential

Rugby News founding editor Bob Howitt failed to defend his title at the annual Takapuna birthday tournament in  Auckland last month.

The team of Steve Cox, Liz Badenhorst, Madeleine Holland and Howitt won their eight games but lost on differential to a Hilary Ross four that included North Harbour’s most celebrated female bowler, Judith Seager.

"It would have been appropriate if we’d been drawn to play each other in the final match but it didn’t work out that way," Howitt said.

A capacity field of 32 teams played four games of pairs and fours in an innovative two-day tournament. Howitt’s team collected the $600 runner-up purse.

Alexandra to fly flag

Alexandra will represent Central Otago in the national interclub sevens final in Auckland in March after outgunning seven other clubs in the Central Otago men’s interclub championship.

The unbeaten Alexandra combinations were the pair of Trevor Drake and Roger O’Brien and the four of Martin Geary, Sam Smith, Ron Hamill and Ewan Kirk.

Pat Houlahan, who qualified for post-section in the singles at the national championships in New Plymouth,  lost two of his seven matches.

Other notable singles players were Allan Brash (Arrowtown), who won five games, and Dave Stewart (Bannockburn), who drew two of his games but remained unbeaten.

Alexandra topped the competition with 48 points and was followed by  Clyde 41, Bannockburn 32, Wanaka 30, Arrowtown 30, RSA 18, Queenstown 16 and Cromwell 6.

Wanaka will represent the centre in division two after beating Alexandra by a single point, 40 to 39.

The Wanaka team was Geoff Thomas (singles), Stuart Hurley and Barrie Morgan (pairs) and Brett Simpson, George Cameron, Ken Mitchell and Kerry Suckling (fours).

Alexandra will also send two women’s teams to Auckland. The club won the Central Otago first division title on countback from Arrowtown and the second division by two points from Middlemarch-Naseby.

The first division team was Linley O’Callaghan  (singles), Alma Crosbie and Lyn Somerville (pairs) and Imela Holdom, Ruth Grant, Carol Woods and Elaine Cushnie (fours).

The second division team was Sue Helm (singles), Alison Allison and Jill Hanning (pairs) and Jenny O’Brien, Raelene Cavanagh, Yvonne McCutcheon and Judith Clark (fours).

Women win battle of sexes

Watch out men. History was created when an all-women’s team won the annual Arrowtown Men’s Bowling Club’s one-day tournament this month.The long-running event  is traditionally a  men-only competition.

"But we were struggling to get a full complement of 16 teams and  invited the women to field the 16th," Howitt said.

The combination of skip Diane Brash, Anne Mason, Debbie Jackson and Robyn McGregor (on holiday from Manawatu) won four of their five games.

Brash was running red hot. The previous day she had been part of a composite four with her husband,  Allan, and Stu and Rhonda Hurley that won the Arrowtown women’s annual New Year’s tournament.

Sixth, eighth titles

The talented  Carolyn West won her sixth Bowls Dunedin title and clubmate Malia Tavite her eighth when Forbury Park beat  Faye Cosgrove and Lyn Rance (Green Island) 15-12 in the champion of champions pairs final.

Forbury Park will represent Dunedin at the national interclub men’s division 2 finals in Auckland after beating Taieri 9-0 in the local final.

Tournament to Milton

Milton’s Sandy McNoe, Kevin Anderson, Moira Haste and Marion Woodhead won the annual Halberg Trust tournament at Balclutha that raises funds for the South Otago branch of the Halberg Trust.

The wind played havoc for the annual triangular representative match at Roxburgh last month that was won by  Southland from Central Otago. South Otago was third.

Balclutha leads the South Otago Saturday interclub competition with 71 points and is followed by Finegand 64,Clutha Valley 53, Kaka Point 48, Stirling 45, Owaka 43, Kaitangata 40, South Otago Town and Country 39, Milton Blue 39 Clinton 35 and Waihola 33.

Wilford stuns Royal

Taranaki’s Debbie Wilford, the first New Zealand woman to compete in the PBA World Indoor Singles at the Potter’s Leisure Resort in Norfolk, England, caused a major upset when she beat 11th seed Mark Royal (England) in the first round 10-4, 7-7.

Wilford joins a field that includes a record five women. The other qualifiers are Janice Gower (England), Julie Forrest (Scotland), Ruti Gilor (Israel) and Vivian Yip (Hong Kong).

Wilford  played for Norfolk Island before moving to New Zealand.

Top-ranked New Zealand PBA bowler Murray Glassey has been awarded the World Bowls Tour’s "best overseas qualifying performance of the year" award.

Glassey knocked out Jonathan Ross (Northern Ireland) in the first round last year and went close against English great Andy Thompson in the second round. The New Zealand pair of Andy McLean (Dunedin) and Andrew Kelly (Canterbury) was knocked out in the qualification rounds of the World Indoor Pairs by Australians Des Cann and David Holt 12-5, 10-3.The Dunedin PBA is limiting numbers to 56 this winter. Organiser Ken Walker said he had just three vacancies left.

Prize pool of $2000

There will be a prize pool of $2000 for the Kitty Hawks under 30 mixed pairs on March 5 in Dunedin. The field will be limited to 32 pairs.


The honours

Leading titleholders

Men’s titles at NZ Open champs

11 Gary Lawson (Canterbury).

10 Nick Unkovich (Auckland), Danny O’Connor (Auckland).

8 Peter Belliss (Wanganui), Rowan Brassey (Auckland), Phil Skoglund (Manawatu).

7 Andrew  Curtain (Canterbury), Ali Forsyth (Nelson).

Centre titles in Otago as at last month

14 Daphne Campbell (North Otago).

12 Bruce Kelly (North Otago), Roger Leek (North Otago).

9 Mary Watson (North Otago).

8 Malia Tavite (Dunedin).

6 Carolyn West (Dunedin).

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