High standard at NEV invitational

Kerrin Wheeler delivers his bowl as his father Colin watches during the North East Valley...
Kerrin Wheeler delivers his bowl as his father Colin watches during the North East Valley invitational mixed pairs bowls tournament on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O’ BRIEN
The cream has risen to the top at the invitational mixed pairs tournament being held at the North East Valley Bowling Club over the weekend.

At the the top side of the draw newly crowned world champion Tayla Bruce, playing alongside local champion Keanu Darby, has progressed through section play undefeated, while on the other side of the draw Finbar McGuigan and Sarah Scott survived a late scare to be the only other pair to progress through unbeaten. Both pairs are perhaps setting up what could be a big final.

The Darby and Bruce combination proved a formidable opponent throughout section play, while McGuigan and Scott were made to work had in the first round of the day before overcoming the pairing of Shane Eliot and Christine Buchanan 11-10.

But the first round produced the upset of the day when the pairing of Kerrin Wheeler and Teri Blackbourn defeated the Blackjack combination of Sheldon Bagrie-Howley and Val Smith 16-12.

Wheeler and Blackbourn put points on the board early to lead by 5-0 after the first two of the mandatory 16 ends.

By the midway stage they held a 9-5 advantage and continued to pressure Bagrie-Howley and Smith into unforced errors. But somehow they managed to regain contact with Wheeler and Blackbourn to trail 12-13 going into the final end.

But Wheeler, a vision-impaired bowler classified B3 and Blackbourn, classified B7 with restricted movement due to rheumatoid arthritis, rose to the challenge and shut the Blackjack pairing out to score three shots and lock away a 16-12 victory.

It was their only win in section play, and while they did not progress to post section, they were thrilled with lifting the scalp of one of the top seeds of the tournament.

"We’re really happy with that," Wheeler said afterwards.

"Just to get one win out of the tournament is great but a win over top-ranked players such and Sheldon and Val is something very special."

With the top two qualifiers in each of the four sections automatically progressing through to the quarterfinal stage, the next top eight qualifiers had to play a qualifying round in order to reach the quarterfinal stage making for some intense competition, with three of the four games decided on the final end.

Ray Martin and Kennie Critchlow scored a dominant 16-6 victory over Shane Elliot and Christine Buchanan. Brent McEwan and Tania Woodham squeaked home 15-14 over Trevor Drake and Barbara Archer.

Bill Clements and Lynley O’Callaghan survived for another battle on the green when overcoming Elliot Mason and Ange Francis 19-18; an extra end was required after scores were locked 18-18 after the mandatory 16 ends.

The remaining quarterfinal playoff proved just as intense, with Craig Merrilees and Clare Hendra getting up 12-10 over Taylor Horn and Kay Hammond.

Play begins this morning with the quarterfinal proper getting under way at 8.30am. Semifinals are expected to get begin at 11.30am with the final programmed for 1.30pm.

The husband and wife pair of Roger and Bronwyn Steven did not let jet-lag get in their way of taking part in the tournament, having just returned from a flight back from Perth on Thursday evening after Roger won the Australian open triples title with Dean Drummond (Hastings) and Peter Brown (Brisbane), defeating the Cartwright and Reiner combination from Victoria, 14-13.