Bowls: Lawson scorches path to last eight

Gary Lawson's four were in unstoppable form as they stormed into the quarter-finals of the national bowls championships in Dunedin yesterday.

Lawson's Wellington team of Canadian Ryan Bester, Andrew Todd and Justin Goodwin had scored 50 points before anyone scored a point against them.

They demolished the St Albans-Merivale team skipped by Canterbury selector Brian Ware 36-0, then raced away to a 16-0 lead against Blenheim's Sanjhe Prasad.

They eventually won that game 26-7 to qualify for a quarter-final clash against Sean O'Neill from Timaru's Kia Toa club.

Lawson is chasing his sixth title in the fours, having won in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2004. He's also been the beaten finalist three times.

Andrew Curtain has been Lawson's lucky charm, sharing the five victories with him.

He was unavailable this year, but Lawson wasn't superstitious about his absence.

"I've got a really good team together and if we can lift our game a little bit more tomorrow, we'll be hard to stop," Lawson said.

Lawson, now a member of the Eastbourne club in Wellington, is playing with the pink bowls with which Scotsman Darren Burnett won the world singles champion of champions title in Christchurch recently.

"They're good bowls," Lawson said. "And they hold up well in the wind."

Lawson missed the singles and pairs which began last week while he remained at the bedside of his seriously ill wife, jockey Judy, but said the break hadn't affected his own play.

The surprise team among the quarter-finalists is the Tainui four of skip Kevin Powell, Rex Stokes, Alan Reid and Peter Culling, who beat Terry Scott's powerful North East Valley line-up and then the four skipped by in-form Alastair Keith.

Pere Paul, of Ngongotaha, reached the last eight with a hard-fought 18-10 victory over Dave Burgess from Te Rangi.

The Young Guns, skipped by 18-year-old Andrew Kelly, eliminated the strong line-up skipped by Richard Girvan, who won the 2005 title.

Sharon Sims, who won a gold star in the pairs, remains on target for another title, guiding her three Dunedin colleagues to the quarter-finals of the women's fours.

In partnership with Faye Cosgrove and Lyn Rance (Green Island) and Carol Callaghan (Taieri), she eliminated 2004 champion skip Maureen Parker 21-16 and will now meet another Kensington skip, Anne Bateman.

Titleholder Lorraine Davis, now playing for the Burnside club, survives, as does Queenstown's Margaret O'Connor who upset Malaysia's highly fancied team skipped by Siti Zalina Ahmad.

- NZPA

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