Former Hawke's Bay premier club rugby player Robert Abraham took up indoor bowls two years ago because it was something he could do with his father, Bob.
"I wanted to play a sport with Dad before he couldn't play any more. It's evolved into something a bit bigger now," Abraham said as he reflected on his second placing with partner and lead Kirstyn Harrison and skip Mark Appleby in the triples final at the 69th annual Summerset national championships in Ashburton yesterday.
The Taradale Primary School Club trio were beaten 13-2 in the final by the Rakaia Club, Ashburton trio of Simon Thomas, Michael Lawson and Daniel French.
"They are a very experienced team. Kirstyn and I have only been playing for two years and, apart from a singles player who won a national title a couple of years ago, we're the most inexperienced players to make a national final," former Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports frontrower Abraham explained.
Forklift driver Appleby, 51, started playing indoor bowls when he was 8 and won his first centre title when he was 12. Yesterday's was his first national final.
Thomas and French are both New Zealand representatives and Lawson is a South Island rep. This was Thomas' third national title, Lawson's second and French's first.
"I remember going to some of my early tournaments and watching these players. I stood in awe of them and here I was today playing against them," information technology consultant Abraham said.
"At last year's nationals and the recent North Island championships in Rotorua I congratulated a lot the winners and runners-up. This time we were on the other side of the shaking ... it's been a great experience."
Hawke's Bay's first indoor bowls team to reach a national final in five years, Appleby's trio beat Kevin Boothby's Thames Valley team of Tim and Peggy Jones 8-6 in their semifinal.
"I know the commentators were telling everyone how exciting that semifinal was. But I thought our quarter-final win was better," Abraham said referring to their 7-6 victory against Waikato's David and Joy Archer and Candace Andrew.
Appleby's team recorded three wins and a loss in section play and three wins and a loss during post-section play. In their last 16 match they beat Hutt Valley's Marcus Trlin, Mark Jacombs and Jordan Keene 7-5.
"Mark played some fantastic shots and we all worked well together. We will be back again in the triples at next year's nationals in Rotorua," Abraham said.
"We were beaten quarter-finalists at the North Islands. This time we went a couple of steps better in a bigger competition," he said referring to the 105-team event.
The trio will be joined by Bob Abraham, 71, in fours section play today. Harrison, 46, will lead, Bob will play two, Robert, 45, three and Appleby will skip.
Appleby and teacher Harrison reached the last 32 in pairs post-section play. Abraham and his father failed to qualify for post-section play.
Abraham had to beat New Zealand captain Grant L'Ami, of Tauranga, in his final singles section game to qualify for post-section play.
"Grant beat me by 5 or 6. I was just happy to play against him and get as far as I got against him," Abraham added.
Thomas' team pipped the Upper Hutt trio of Ashley Diamond, Hayden Warnes and Sheree Holmes 9-8 in their semifinal.
It was a memorable day for the host town as Mark Sheard, Joyce Cleghorn and Helen Rennie, of the Ashburton MSA, beat the inaugural 2015 champions Stewart Stratford, Jean Stratford and Chris Guy, from the Niagra club in Southland, 10-1 in the masters triples final.
Last night the two Abrahams, Harrison and Appleby were representing Hawke's Bay in an inter-regional event. It's a fun event and in between deliveries yesterday's runners-up were likely to be congratulated more for yesterday's second placing.
As long-time New Zealand Indoor Bowls publicity officer Delwyn Hughes said:
"They did themselves and their club great honour."