Bowls: Top Tauranga pair make national final

Leading Tauranga bowlers Graham Skellern and Kevin Maxfield have qualified for two finals in the National Club Championships at Invercargill in June.

Skellern and Maxfield, both multi-centre winners, had unbeaten runs in the regional qualifying at the Hillcrest club in Hamilton last week.

Playing together for the first time, Skellern combined well with Maxfield, who was leading, to snatch three wins in the pairs.

Their campaign began strongly with a hard-fought victory over Counties Manukau's Glen Newton and Philip Robottom.

Maxfield and Skellern, who replaced the late John Bush, then had comfortable wins over the Thames Valley and Waikato combinations to book a place in the national final, featuring the winners from six regional qualifying events.

They then split up to skip their teams to success. Playing with his Tauranga South teammates Ben Thurston and Graeme Heward, Skellern had an easier time in the triples.

They beat an experienced Papakura side of Ian Gordon, John Fitzpatrick and Jim Hart 26-6 after the score was tied 3-all following the sixth end.

The well-balanced Tauranga side backed this up with a 14-point victory against the Thames Valley and they didn't need to complete the third round because of their superior points advantage.

Maxfield, who has dual membership, joined up with Mount Maunganui clubmates Maurice Hickey, Phil Morgan and Merv Gibbons to win the fours, beating the Dave Buchan-skipped Waikato side 21-15 in the deciding third round. Both teams entered the final round unbeaten on two wins.

Skellern is continuing a golden summer on the greens at the national level. His latest success followed his strong showing at the New Zealand Championship in New Plymouth in early January.

He reached the semifinals of the pairs, quarterfinals of the fours and last 32 of the singles.

He was also a member of the Bay of Plenty men's team which finished third equal in the national inter-centre championships in Auckland last month.

But other Bay bowlers have also been flying the flag.

Wendy Green (Taupo) will also be competing in the National Club Championships in Invercargill after winning the singles at the regional qualifying.

The Bay representation at the National Club Championships reached an unprecedented 12 players when Tauranga South's Mary Campbell, Robyn Davis, Pauline Bowler and Robyn Matthews-Hunt won the fours qualifying at the Hillcrest club.

After big wins against the Waikato and Counties Manukau teams, the Campbell-skipped four had a points differential of plus 27 and that was enough to scare off the opposition.

The third round matches were called off after the early rounds - and Campbell and Davis also continued a fine season. They were just pipped in the semifinals of the national pairs, losing to eventual winners Sandra Keith and Serena Matthews by one point.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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