Bowls: Burnside's Bruce makes singles final in stunning fashion

Day 5 of the Heartland Bank National Open Championships started under cloudy skies as the women's and men's pairs continued post section play while the women's singles fought it out to see who would play Monday's final.

The women's pairs have now got down to the last 8. With the finalist to be found tomorrow there is still some enticing games to be played. First up Nelsonians Jo Edwards and Val Smith play Sarah Scott and Bronwyn Stevens. The Boyd sisters,who are the defending champs, play Reen Stratford and Linda Ralph. The winners of these 2 games play each other, so if it goes to plan it will be an all Blackjacks semi-final. If it indeed goes this way there will be extra spice in it due to the fact there is World Championship spots up for grabs.

In the other quarters Canterbury's Sandra Keith and Serena Mathews play the pair from Alexandra Margaret O'Connor and Linley O'Callaghan with the field being rounded out by Leigh and Kirstin Griffin playing Bev Moral and Lois Grey.

The match of the day in the men's pairs saw singles finalist Shannon McIlroy and 10 times National title holder Gary Lawson trail local guys Kevin Smith and Robin Howman right to the last end when Lawson scored a 3 with his last bowl to take the match.

They then went on to beat Blake Signal and Alvin Gardner in what was a real dog fight 18-15.

They will now play last year's champions Rob Ashton and Petar Sain in tomorrow's quarter finals.

The surprise of the day was Blackjacks Mike Kernaghan and Tony Grantham being beaten by Kevin Gore and Ross Stevens 14-10. Gore and Stevens then lost their next match to James Collier and Duncan O'Keefe from Rangiora 17-10. Collier and O'Keefe will now tomorrow play the Forsyth's Ali and Dad Neville.

Fifteen year old Seamus Curtin, who was a silver medal winner at the 2015 Youth
Commonwealth Games, and partner Euan Wong (22) from Stokes Valley have played exceptional bowls and will play Sean Thomson and Les Inch from Oxford in the quarters.

The last of the men's pairs quarter finals sees the Australian pairing of Andrew Howie and Greg Dale play Kerry Becks and Darren Redway. At this stage whoever gets through the top half of the draw would have to be favourites to take the title on Monday.

In the women's singles quarter finals three of the four games ended up being one sided affairs. Tayla Bruce beat fellow Blackjack Sandra King 21-4, Kelsey Cottrell (Australia) beat last year's championLeigh Griffin 21-9 and Chloe Stewart (Australia) beat young Blackjack Katelyn Inch 21-6.

The fourth quarter final was a much closer game with Dale Raynor from Johnsonville beating Sarah Boddington (Australia) 21-15. With Bruce playing Gaynor in one semi and the 2 Australians playing each other in the other at least one New Zealander will be in Monday's final.

In the semifinals Chloe Stewart raced out to an early lead but Kelsey Cottrell who is one of Australia's very top players was never going to not be competitive. From midway through the lead changed almost after every end until Cottrell grabbed a three on the last end
to win 21-19 to reach Monday's final.

Cottrell has appeared 284 times for Australia so will go into the final as hot favourite.

The other semi-final was close from the start.

Right up until the last end to pick a winner in such a tight match was impossible. Both Tayla Bruce and Dale Raynor played as well as the slight rain would allow. In the race to 21 at 19-14 it looked like Bruce had it in the bag. However Raynor got back to 20-19 by saving 4 ends in a row until Brucetook it out 21-19.

They were two great semi-finals which points to a mouthwatering final.

Tomorrow will see quarter and semi-finals played in both men's and women's pairs. All games are at the Burnside Bowling Club.

- NZ Herald

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