The Gore Rams have made a major statement on the third night of Bowls3Five, outclassing the previously unbeaten Stoke Thunder 11-1, 5-3 at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland.
After a tight start, the Rams took charge on the fourth end, recording the first maximum of the inaugural televised league.
Nineteen-year-olds Ashleigh Jeffcoat and Caleb Hope laid the platform for Gore skip Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, 23.
Bagrie-Howley then had to produce a couple of moments of magic in the second set to avoid a tie-breaker end.
The first came in the opening end, when he earned the Rams a shot with a fine drive.
Then with Gore trailing the Thunder 3-2 and with Stoke holding the shots on the final end, Bagrie-Howley delivered another brilliantly weighted bowl to secure the Rams their third straight victory.
“Still shaking a wee bit there,” he said.
“Didn’t really want that much pressure on the last one, but we managed to get there in the end.”
Stoke are still level on points with Gore after the Thunder opened the evening with a flattering 11-5, 9-3 win over an aggressive Woodend Jets team.
The Jets gave the Thunder a scare in the first set when they jumped out to a 5-2 lead after three ends. But Woodend gave the set straight back to Stoke by giving up four shots on their power play.
The Jets again kept in touch with the Thunder in the second set before they once more gave up four shots, this time on Woodend’s power play on the third end.
Former Blackjack Kirsten Edwards was again to the fore for Stoke in the number two spot.
“The Woodend team played really well and played with a lot of weight at times and it paid off for them on certain ends,” Edwards said.
“But we managed to get over the line so we’re really happy.”
The first Auckland derby of Bowls3Five was a thriller, with the second match of the night decided on a tie-breaker end.
The Point Chevalier Pirates have earned bragging rights, beating the Royal Oak Rockets 1-0 in sudden-death after the sets were split 8-5, 4-8.
The Pirates came back from 5-0 down in the first set, with young skip Aiden Takarua getting the better of his much more experienced opposite, Mike Galloway, to pick up three shots on the deciding fifth end.
The Rockets raced out to a 6-0 lead in the second set and this time held on, with Galloway producing a critical drive on the third end to deny Pt Chev three shots on their power play.
The tie-break end was again a battle between the two skips, with Takarua coming out on top to deliver the shot to the Pirates, after some misfortune for Galloway.
“Mike is such a great bowler and [we] got away with that result,” Takarua said.
“[But] it just felt like another end really, I wasn’t too fussed.”
Day 3 results
Stoke Thunder bt Woodend Jets 11-5, 9-3
Point Chevalier Pirates bt Royal Oak Rockets 8-5, 4-8 (Pt Chev won tie-breaker end 1-0)
Gore Rams bt Stoke Thunder 11-1, 5-3
Day 4 matches (all broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport 2):
Point Chevalier Pirates v Stokes Valley Vipers -7:05pm
Royal Oak Rockets v Gore Rams – 8pm
Stokes Valley Vipers v Woodend Jets – 9pm
Standings after three nights*
Gore Rams 9
Stoke Thunder 9
Pt Chev Pirates 6
Royal Oak Rockets 3
Woodend Jets 0
Stokes Valley Vipers 0
*the standings have been amended after the wrong points scoring system was used last week