The vast play-book of Auckland duo Mike Bradshaw and the revered Neville “Bones” Hill won out over youth, drawing on decades of experience to take out the sought after Cliff Shanks Memorial 2-4-2 Men’s Invitational Pairs title in clinical fashion.
Hosted by the Royal Oak Bowling Club, the event is now in its 19th year and attracts a fiercely talented line-up, both locally and from further afield, with sixteen sections of four starting the event on day one and the winning pair crowned on Labour Monday.
Endorsed as an official Summer of Bowls event, Bowls New Zealand took the opportunity to pair development representatives Taylor Horn and Aiden Takarua, in a combination that looked impressive over the long weekend, giving them both a platform to display their skillset.
Takarua, a key member of the Pt Chevalier Pirates’ Bowls3Five side, combined expertly with Horn to advance through section play and in to the final opposite Bradshaw and Hill, with some mature bowling turning heads among the astute bowls followers.
Following three rounds of initial section play, the top two teams from each section advanced to the play-off rounds with post-section winners including Takarua and Horn, Bradshaw and Hill, composite pairing Graham Growcott and Nick Thompson and local favourites Mike Galloway and Martin Dixon.
In what proved the feature match of the tournament, Horn and Takarua were in sublime touch as they dispatched the reigning NZ Open Men’s Pairs champions in Galloway and Dixon – both of which will be seen lining up for the Royal Oak Rockets in this weeks’ Bowls3Five debut.
Across rinks, Bradshaw and Hill put paid to the title hopes of Growcott and Thompson, setting up an entertaining match-up opposite the tournament’s youngsters, both sides undefeated in the post-section rounds.
As the weather continued to provide favourable conditions, the final got underway and provided plenty of memorable action between the tournament’s two best performed sides.
Despite their best efforts, Horn and Takarua seemingly came unstuck opposite Hill and Bradshaw – Hill formerly a New Zealand representative and bowls identity among many, with Bradshaw and Hill, representing the Onehunga & Districts club, edging ahead and holding a narrow lead to take the top placing, 15-13, in an entertaining encounter on the Royal Oak green.
In other results, the Whangarei father and son pairing of David and Daniel Hood were in fine form to take out the Plate event, while Royal Oak club mates Andrew Walbran and Terry Makira enjoyed their efforts in the Flight event winning through a quality field.
The final spoils of the weekend went the way of Glenfield and North Harbour composite Bruce Baker and Stuart McKechnie, who paired to collect the Shoot Out prize, rounding out a quality event held in perfect conditions throughout.
The Clif Shanks Memorial Invitational Men’s Pairs will return next year to celebrate its 20th event
Results at a Glance
Clif Shanks Memorial Invitational Men’s 2-4-2 Pairs, Royal Oak B.C
Champions: Mike Bradshaw, Neville Hill (Onehunga & Districts)
Runner-up: Taylor Horn, Aiden Takarua (Bowls NZ Development)
Beaten semi-finalists: Graham Growcott, Nick Thompson (Composite)
Mike Galloway, Martin Dixon (Royal Oak)
Winner: David Hood, Daniel Hood (Whangarei)
Winner: Andrew Walbran, Terry Makira (Royal Oak)
Winner: Bruce Baker, Stuart McKechnie (Glenfield-North Harbour)