Waikato will be represented in the second edition of the Bowls3Five televised league as the Hinuera Heat.
The Hinuera Bowling Club, near Matamata, has dramatically won the inaugural national Bowls3Five interclub title at the Naenae Bowling Club in Lower Hutt and will replace the relegated Woodend Jets in this year’s expanded competition.
Hinuera has beaten Riverhead (North Harbour) in a heart-stopping interclub final, with Gaylene Harvey drawing the winning shot in the tie-break end of the third and deciding match.
“My heart was palpitating,” Harvey said.
“I knew I had to get up there and on to the head to take the pressure off our skip.”
The late drama is something the club of 50 odd members has become accustomed to throughout the playoffs.
“It’s been quite a stressful road. We like leaving it to the last end,” Harvey said.
“It has often come down to tie-breaks. Against Ngongotaha (Bay of Plenty) in the round of 16 all three games went to tie-breaks and we won two of them.
“We’ve been doing that all the way through.”
Gaylene Harvey only joined Hinuera Bowling Club at Christmas, having previously played in Hawke’s Bay.
She has been won over by the fast format and has urged more centres to introduce Bowls3Five.
“I’d just encourage them to try and get up to this level of play,” Harvey said.
Hinuera has emerged from more than 150 clubs to snare a place in the Bowls3Five televised league, which will this year feature eight teams and will be broadcast live on SKY Sport over eight weeks on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.
They will join the defending champion Point Chevalier Pirates, Gore Rams, Stoke Thunder, Royal Oak Rockets and Stokes Valley Vipers, who have all been invited to return for the second season, and two yet to be determined sides.
“We’re a small country club so…to win this and get our entry into the televised league, we’ve got some secondary school kids coming up, and so all it can do is promote Hinuera as the club of choice for the Waikato so it means a lot for us.”
It is tough on Riverhead, who had emerged as the top qualifier from the final four, with Alexandra (Central Otago) and Blenheim (Marlborough) falling short of the decider.