Three clubs remain in the running for the inaugural Bowls3Five televised league title.
The Point Chevalier Pirates, Stoke Thunder and Gore Rams have secured the top three spots in the six team competition and will contest the title at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland next week.
The Pirates are three points clear of the Thunder and Rams, who they will play in tomorrow night’s (Wednesday, November 21) final round, after edging the Royal Oak Rockets 4-4, 5-4 in a dramatic Auckland derby.
The Rockets needed to win to remain in top three contention and after a slow start managed to draw the first set when skip Mike Galloway earned Royal Oak a shot on its power play end.
The second set was decided on the final bowl when the Rockets were holding three shots and trailing 5-3. Pt Chev skip Aiden Takarua stepped up to deliver a terrific drive and win the match for the Pirates.
“It’s the most pressure I think I’ve been under this entire tournament that bowl…adrenaline is going through pretty quick,” Takarua said.
The Gore Rams earlier secured their place in the top three by outclassing world champion Shannon McIlroy and the Stoke Thunder 9-1, 4-3.
The Rams jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first end and never looked back, with lead Ashleigh Jeffcoat setting the table for Gore skip Sheldon Bagrie-Howley.
The second set was a much tighter affair with McIlroy giving the Thunder a 3-2 lead going into the final end, but the world champ was unable to seal the deal.
McIlroy’s attempted drive was just off the mark, handing the Rams two shots, the end and the match.
“Ashleigh definitely smashed it and Caleb [Hope] backed her up so I was in my armchair sitting comfortably,” Bagrie-Howley said.
It is Gore’s second straight win after three successive losses and the Rams skipper is hopeful their mojo’s returning.
“We’d like to think so,” Bagrie-Howley said.
“It’s better to probably lose them there then later on. We’ve put them behind us now and just need to keep winning.”
In the second match of the night, the Stokes Valley Vipers ensured the Woodend Jets remain winless, downing the North Canterbury club 8-0, 5-5.
The first set was a procession, with the only drama coming in the final end when Alex ‘Grizz’ Wyllie picked up one of the Jets’ bowls before it was measured.
Woodend found their touch in the second set though, with Jenny Anderson setting up the head for the Jets.
They jumped out to a 5-2 lead before Stokes Valley skip Lisa White secured the Vipers a drawn set and the match by picking up two shots with a fine final touching bowl on the fourth end and a tight draw for the shot on the last.
“I didn’t think it’d drawn it actually, it stayed out, but it just had the right weight so I’m happy,” White said.
The Woodend Jets will open the final night of round-robin against the Royal Oak Rockets, before the Point Chevalier Pirates square-off against the Gore Rams in a match which is likely to decide top spot. The Stoke Thunder and Stokes Valley Vipers will cap the evening.
Day 9 results
Gore Rams bt Stoke Thunder 9-1, 4-3
Stokes Valley Vipers bt Woodend Jets 8-0, 5-5
Point Chevalier Pirates bt Royal Oak Rockets 4-4, 5-4
Day 10 matches (all broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport 2):
Royal Oak Rockets vs Woodend Jets – 7:05pm
Point Chevalier Pirates vs Gore Rams – 8pm
Stoke Thunder v Stokes Valley Vipers – 9pm
Standings after 9/10 nights of round-robin
Pt Chev Pirates 21
Stoke Thunder 18
Gore Rams 18
Royal Oak Rockets 12
Stokes Valley Vipers 12
Woodend Jets 0