The best bowls talent in the region was on display at the Eastern Southland pairs championships, held just before the start of the festive season.
For men’s finalists, Southland open representative Shane Elliott and Southland development representative Brian Coyle, of the Edendale club, it was a case of fourth time lucky.
They managed to get the win in Mataura after being runners-up at the tournament for the past three years.
“We were fortunate enough to take it out in what was a tight final this time around,” Elliott said.
They beat New Zealand under-25 representative Sheldon Bagrie-Howley and 11-year-old Riversdale up-and-comer Alex Cross.
Bagrie-Howley was one of Southland’s best players and his play rubbed off on Cross, Elliott said.
“Alex played well above how he normally plays. Sheldon gave him one of his New Zealand uniforms to wear at the start of the day and he grew another leg from it,” he said.
Bagrie-Howley is expected to play at this year’s World Junior Bowls Championships in Australia.
The tournament showcased some of the best talent from the small Eastern Southland area, Elliott said.
There were several Southland representatives playing in both the men’s and women’s sections, he said.
“We punch above our weight with our talent for a smaller region.”
In the women’s final, former national champion Shona Klimeck and Yvonne Williams-Brick, from the Gore RSA club, won in Wyndham.
They beat Southland open representative Clare McKee and Sue Sanson, from Riversdale.
The tournament is run annually in Eastern Southland, with players from as far as Riversdale and Tapanui to South Wyndham and Edendale.
This year it featured 14 teams in the men’s section and 12 in the women’s section.