Familiar faces to open new season

The Pt Chevalier Pirates will open their Bowls3Five title defence at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland tomorrow night (Oct 22), knowing they’re facing increased competition in the second edition of the televised league.

The Pirates will feature in the second game of the opening night against the Parajacks, who are one of three new line-ups in the expanded eight-team competition.

The Pt Chev triple which beat the Gore Rams in last year’s final, Aiden Takarua (skip), Alex Reed and Jenny Stockford, will square-off against a trio skipped by chess grandmaster Mark Noble.

Noble will team up with fellow Gold Coast Commonwealth Games silver medallist Bruce Wakefield and Otago’s Carolyn Crawford.

The third member of the Commonwealth Games triple, Barry Wynks, is unavailable for the first couple of weeks because he’s recently had a hip replacement.

The first game of the new season will pit the Gore Rams against the Royal Oak Rockets.

Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (skip), Caleb Hope and Ashleigh Jeffcoat will again represent the Southlanders, who fell agonisingly close to winning the inaugural Bowls3Five title.

They will face two familiar names, with Mike Galloway and Martin Dixon back with the Rockets for a second season.

Galloway will again skip the Royal Oak triple, but with a new lead.

Tere Tuaiti, who won the Auckland Women’s Champion of Champion Singles title in 2016, will open proceedings for the Rockets, who narrowly avoided relegation last year.

With Bowls3Five now broadcast three nights a week, there will only be two games each Tuesday, with three on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The Elmwood Saints will make their bow on the second night of competition.

Gary Lawson has left the commentary box and will skip a strong triple, featuring Kelvin Scott and Mandy Boyd.

Scott won the national men’s singles title in 1998, while Boyd is a five-time national champion in the women’s fours, the most recent of which was this year.

Boyd will play the unfamiliar lead role, with Elmwood spoilt for choice in what appears to be one of the deepest squads in the competition.

The Saints will play the Stokes Valley Vipers first-up, with the Wellington side further investing in youth in 2019.

Blackjacks squad member Seamus Curtin will skip the Vipers in week one and will team-up with fellow teenager Finbar McGuigan and Nicole Toomey, who won national secondary school titles in 2010 and 2011.

Bowls3Five interclub champions Hinuera Heat and the highly touted Stoke Thunder will have to wait until Thursday before they start competition.

All matches will be broadcast live on SKY Sport.

Bowls3Five – week one:

Tuesday, October 22
Royal Oak Rockets vs Gore Rams – 7:10pm
Point Chevalier Pirates vs Parajacks – 8:15pm

Wednesday, October 23
Stokes Valley Vipers vs Elmwood Park Saints  – 6pm
Parajacks vs Gore Rams – 7:10pm
Point Chevalier Pirates vs Elmwood Park Saints – 8:15pm

Thursday, October 24
Stoke Thunder vs Hinuera Heat – 6pm
Stoke Thunder vs Stokes Valley Vipers – 7:10pm
Royal Oak Rockets vs Hinuera Heat – 8:15pm