Scott, Stevens retain pairs title

Sarah Scott delivers her bowl as Sandra Keith looks on during the final of the Dunedin Women’s...
Sarah Scott delivers her bowl as Sandra Keith looks on during the final of the Dunedin Women’s Pairs at the North East Valley club yesterday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Defending champions and Commonwealth Games prospects Sarah Scott and Bronwyn Stevens saved their best until last in winning their second consecutive Dunedin Women’s Pairs at the North East Valley Bowling Club yesterday.

After the field of 24 New Zealand, regional and interisland representatives battled the weather as much as each other in section play on Saturday, the eight quarterfinalists took the greens yesterday in clear skies and calm conditions.

Of those to qualify for the final eight, last year’s runners-up, Shona Elder (Southland) and Helen Carman (Taieri), remained undefeated in section play for second consecutive year.

But a second final was denied at the quarterfinal stage by the Queenstown pairing of Margaret O’Connor and Jane Anderson.

On the other side of the draw, Sandra Keith and Tania Woodham progressed through to the semifinal with a 14-7 victory over the Taieri pair of Judy Robertson and Jean Young, then on to an epic semifinal victory over the international pair of Lisa White (Naenae) and Jan Shirley (Canterbury).

It was a high-class contest between the White-Shirley and Keith-Woodham combinations as three Black Jacks in White, Shirley and Keith, and Woodham, a Canterbury representative, went shot for shot.

Victory for Keith and Woodham was sealed in a scoring sequence on the 11th, 12th and 13th ends to defeat White and Shirley 15-13.

The loss ended a weekend of mixed fortunes for White, which started with Air New Zealand leaving her bowls and gear behind on her flight from Wellington on Friday.

Only a mercy dash by the airline secured its delivery in time for play on Saturday morning.

But the weekend belonged to defending champions Scott and Stevens, who, on Saturday, topped section four to earn their ticket to the knockout rounds yesterday.

They accounted for the Taieri pair of Barbara Archer and Robyn Hall 16-11 to progress through to a semifinal match against O’Connor and Anderson, which proved a hotly contested affair.

With the match locked up at 10-10 after 12 ends of the 15-end encounter, the 13th end proved a game-changer.

Scott drew five shots to break the deadlock and charge out to a 15-10 lead with two ends remaining.

O’Connor and Anderson conceded with an end remaining, handing Scott and Stevens a 16-10 victory and place in the final.

The final between the defending champions and the Keith and Woodham pairing proved to be one-way traffic for Scott and Stevens as they put big numbers on the board early to lock their opponents out in a 22-9 victory.

As members of the Commonwealth Games training squad for Birmingham next year, securing back-to-back titles in the event adds to their growing reputation as tough opponents.

The greens were running 4sec faster than the ones on which they have been training in preparation for conditions in Birmingham.

"You’ve got to put in a bit of work for selection for Com Games, and to win this is a step in the right direction," Scott said.

"It took a lot of concentration getting the right weight," Stevens added, referring to the faster pace of the green.

"We put a few in the ditch but adjusted accordingly."

Keith, a three-time champion at the event, was happy with the result and to have made it to the final in what at times were tricky green conditions.

Keith will join Scott and Stevens in the South Island squad to play the North Island in Dunedin which has been rescheduled for late November.

In the plate final, the composite pair of Jan Hall (Green Island) and Ange Francis (North East Valley) defeated Carolyn West (St Clair) and Malia Tavite (Forbury Park) 16-7.

The composite pair of Nicky Reed (Stoke) and Raelene Peters (Canterbury) downed Christine Boorer (Outram) and Doreen Fraser (North East Valley) 15-8 to win the consolation final.

 - Wayne Parsons

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