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Some of New Zealand’s top-ranked female bowlers will turn out in the Dunedin Ladies Invitational Pairs at the North East Valley Club this weekend.
Heading the billing is the defending champion pairing of Sarah Scott and Bronwyn Stevens.
They proved a lethal combination last season in local competition, winning the champion of champion women’s pairs title and combining with North East Valley teammates Ange Francis and Brooke Craik to win the champion of champion women’s fours.
Stevens is a member of the Blackjack squad, while Scott remains in the mix in the wider squad.
Lying in wait on the other side of the draw is the combination of PBA international Helen Carman (Taieri) and Southland representative player Shona Elder, setting up what could be a repeat of last year’s final.
In their first appearance at the tournament, Carman and Elder were the only undefeated team in qualifying for post-section play last year and progressed through post-section with a masterful display.
Their only bad end came in the final, which set up Scott and Stevens for a 16-9 victory in a classic display of pressure bowls from both combinations.
Another pair that could feature in the final wash is that of Sandra Keith (Leeston) and Tania Woodham (Halswell).
Keith is a three-time champion at the event, winning with Jenny Dyhrberg (Taieri) in 2012, Lyn Rance (Green Island) in 2013 and Christine Buchanan (Queenstown) in 2014.
Of the three who partnered Keith to a hat trick of victories only Buchanan will feature this year, when she teams up with Lynda Milne.
The combination of Keith and Woodham could prove a stumbling block for many.
Woodham has vast PBA experience and with Keith — a New Zealand champion in singles (2012), pairs (2013) and fours (2020) and winner of the world champion of champions title in Cyprus in 2012, along with two bronze medals at the Asia-Pacific championships — at her side, it would be no surprise to see this pairing feature.
Among other combinations in action is that of Taieri’s Beth Brown and Lynley O’Callaghan, while their Taieri club-mate and Dunedin bowler of the year last season Judy Robertson is teamed up with Jean Young.
Both of these pairs have a reputation for being highly competitive and remaining in the contest until the very last bowl.
Another team to watch is that of 2016 runner-up Lisa White (Naenae, Wellington) and Jan Shirley (Canterbury).
Shirley was a runner-up to Keith’s first victory when teaming up with Scott in 2012, while as a Blackjack, White won a silver medal in the triples at the 2012 world championships in Adelaide.
Section play gets under way at 9am on Saturday. The final is expected to be at 1.30pm on Sunday.
- By Wayne Parsons