Tight at the top halfway through Bowls3Five round-robin

The Stoke Thunder and Point Chevalier Pirates have drawn level with the Gore Rams atop the Bowls3Five ladder, while the Royal Oak Rockets have recorded a much-needed win to remain in playoff contention.

The Thunder opened the fifth night of competition, at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland, with a 7-3, 8-5 win over the winless and luckless Woodend Jets.

Stoke jumped out to six shot leads in both sets and they ultimately proved to be unassailable, but not after a few heart palpitations, especially in the second set.

The Jets closed the deficit to 7-5 on the fourth end, after picking up two shots on their power play, and Thunder skip Peter Hodson needed to produce a good draw to deny Woodend on the last.

“That’s no good for the old ticker mate, I’ll give you the tip,” Hodson said.

“Full credit to Woodend. They played a hell of a game tonight and that would be their best performance.

“I’m pleased we don’t have to play them again.”

The Pt Chev Pirates then produced their most comprehensive performance of the competition, outclassing an out of sorts Stokes Valley Vipers 8-2, 7-4.

James-Cameron Powell, 17, made an impressive start to his Bowls3Five debut as the Vipers’ lead, but was eventually outshone by his opposite Jenny Stockford and Pt Chev number two Graham Edwards, who also made his first appearance of the tournament.

Stokes Valley picked up a shot on each of the opening two ends, but that was all they would score in the first set, with the Pirates scoring three, one and four on the next three ends while Vipers skip Seamus Curtin was unable to find his range with his driving game.

Pt Chev dominated the second set, scoring on the first four ends, before Stokes Valley saved some face by picking up four on the last.

Pirates skip Aiden Takarua was quick to pay tribute to Stockford.

“She was amazing. It’s been real good to get something off the front and it builds it for us,” Takarua said.

In the final match of day five, the Royal Oak Rockets delivered in the crunch to hand the Woodend Jets their sixth straight defeat.

The Rockets convincingly won the first set 7-1, but they did not have it all their own way in the second.

The Jets picked up a shot on the Royal Oak power play and then scored two on their own to jump out to a 5-1 lead after three ends.

Rockets skip Mike Galloway produced a perfect drive to level the match on the fourth end, but he was unable to get the better of his opposite Neil Tiplady, who capitalised on an Alex Wyllie drive to draw the shot and set for Woodend, 6-5.

Unfortunately for the Jets, they were again denied on the tie-break end to remain winless, while Royal Oak breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“We said to ourselves we have to have a win tonight or we’re gone,” Rockets lead Robyn Fisher said.

Royal Oak is now a clear fourth on the table, six points behind the top three.

The Woodend Jets have the night off tomorrow (Wednesday, November 7), while the Gore Rams will return to action with a double-header.

Day 5 results
Stoke Thunder bt Woodend Jets 7-3, 8-5
Point Chevalier Pirates by Stokes Valley Vipers 8-2, 7-4
Royal Oak Rockets bt Woodend Jets 7-1, 5-6 (Royal Oak won the tie-breaker end 1-0)

Day 6 matches (all broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport 2):
Point Chevalier Pirates v Gore Rams -7:05pm
Stoke Thunder v Stokes Valley Vipers – 8pm
Royal Oak Rockets v Gore Rams – 9pm

Standings after five nights
Gore Rams 12
Stoke Thunder 12
Pt Chev Pirates 12
Royal Oak Rockets 6
Stokes Valley Vipers 3
Woodend Jets 0