Out go the tall poppies

Reputations tumbled in early rounds of the Dunedin regional PBA World Singles qualifying round at the Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium on Saturday.

The road to finals day on August 17 has been paved with casualties and outcomes harder to pick than election results.

Brian Harvey, the winner of the ranking singles competition last month, is the sole player of significant ranking to make it through to the semifinals. He took the prized scalp of Blackjack squad member Andrew Kelly in the second round, winning 7-6, 7-5 in a match that tested the resolve and nerve of both players.

In the next round, Harvey's ability to draw shot and keep close to the jack enabled him to run away from Paul King 11-3, 11-3 to reach quarterfinal play and a match with defending champion Duane White.

Continuing to master the rink and displaying ease at drawing in on the jack, Harvey sent White packing in a hard-fought battle in which the defending champion clung on to draw the first set 6-6, only for Harvey to run away in the second set with a 10-6 victory.

It set up a semifinal contest with Joko Susilo, who knocked out another tournament favourite, Andy McLean, in their quarterfinal clash 6-6, 10-5.

While Susilo progressed through earlier rounds notching up some convincing victories, it was McLean who was responsible for the first-round exit of New Zealand Development player Caleb Hope. He followed this up with some impressive one-sided victories to loom as a real threat.

In earlier matches at the top end of the draw, White progressed by beating Oliver Mason in the first round 13-4, 9-5, then escaped an early exit in the second round to overcome Sandy McNoe via a 2-1 tie-break to clip his ticket to the quarterfinal and a match-up with tournament favourite Elliot Mason.

The clash between White and Elliot Mason proved enthralling. They drew the first set 7-7 and White clinched the match only on the final end of the second set 8-7. Mason, the third-ranked player in New Zealand PBA, joined the growing number of top-ranked players on the sideline.

At the bottom end of the draw, Russell Dawe progressed untroubled to the quarterfinals, at which stage Peter Bell put him to the test. Dawe won the first set 10-7 but Bell bounced back to take the second 7-4 to force the tie-break, which Dawe won 2-0.

The fourth quarterfinal ended an impressive run of victories for Sue Smeaton, who, surprisingly, fell easily at the hands of Karl Mason 10-4, 11-3. Mason will now meet Dawe in the semifinal.


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