The Burnside under 26 Singles Tournament was played at the Burnside Bowling Club in variable conditions last weekend. Friday was cool and cloudy while Saturday’s wind was blustery and sharp but warmed the players late in the day. Sunday, finals’ day, began with a gentle breeze and cloudy skies which cleared towards midday making the afternoon pleasantly warm but unfortunately after all play was finished. This year however it did not rain! Green keeper, Glen Miller produced a true running surface on two immaculate greens that rewarded excellent shot making.
The 32 singles players provided great entertainment for spectators demonstrating skill and panache while playing innovative shots in competitive and at times very memorable games.
Each player played seven games in section play with the top two in each of four sections winning coveted places in Division One for the playoffs. Section 1 was won by Gore’s Sheldon Bagrie-Howley from Finbar McGuigan (Stokes Valley) while Dean Drummond (Bowls Hastings) led Section 2 from Bradley Down (Victoria). Section 3 went to Seamus Curtain (Stokes Valley) and Caleb Hope (Gore), while Keanu Darby (North East Valley) and the best placed local player, Mat Bassett (Elmwood) completed the top-eight line up.
Stokes Valley club mates, Curtin and McGuigan fought out a terrific quarter final with Curtain winning 21-20 while Hope, Darby and Bagrie-Howley eliminated Drummond, Down and Bassett respectively.
Curtin defeated Hope in a see-saw semi final 21-17 while Bagrie-Howley was always in control of his semi final against Keanu Darby.
Seamus Curtin (Left) and Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (Right) in their semi final matches
After 140 games the event reached its climax with two unbeaten players in the final; the 2016 winner of this event, Sheldon Bagrie-Howley and Bowls NZ’s 2017-2018 Male Development Player of the Year, Seamus Curtin. And what a final it was. Curtin scored 2 on the first end but Bagrie-Howley took over and led 8-3 after seven ends. Seamus won the next four ends to take the lead 9-8 and then both players produced a series of bowls that saw shot bowls and the jack moved around with the result that the ascendency in each end changed with each shot played. The 17th end proved to be pivotal to the final result. Sheldon held the shot adjacent to the jack with the other already played six bowls close by behind the jack. Seamus ran at the head with his final bowl hitting the shot bowl and removing it from the head. This bowl then knocked another of Sheldon’s bowls from the head and Seamus’s bowl stayed. When the dust cleared the count was 4 to Seamus who now led 16-13. Not to be out done Sheldon won the next 3 ends to tie the game up 16-16. With both players producing accurate draw bowls and effective drives and run shots spectators were kept enthralled until the 24th end. With the score now 18-17 and both players able to reach 21 shots Seamus played a great drive with the last bowl of the end which deposited the jack in the ditch, netting him 2 shots and denying Sheldon the 3 he was holding. The 25th end was the last of the game. Down 2 shots on the head Seamus drew a toucher with his last bowl. Sheldon’s only chance was to drive – it missed. A high class game between two outstanding young players was over - 21-17.
Now 18 years old Curtin first played in this event as a very talented 15 year old when he reached the quarterfinals of Division 2. He has been playing lawn bowls for nine years and also plays basketball, his other sporting love, for Aotea College where he is Head Boy. He has not yet finalised his plans for next year but whatever he decides it is to be hoped that they will include being at Burnside in October 2019 to defend his title.
Seamus Curtin, Winner of the Burnside U26 Singles with Tournament Convenor, Kerrie Bruce
At the conclusion of the event Tournament Convenor, Kerrie Bruce warmly acknowledged the support of the Club’s volunteers and went on to say “there is always keen interest from players in this tournament and I'm thrilled that we were able to assemble another highly competitive field for this year. The standard of play over the past three days from these youth players has been impressive and, going by that, I'm sure many of them have a great bowling season ahead of them”.
As an aside, five of this year’s field; Seamus Curtin, Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, Caleb Hope, James-Cameron Powell and Aiden Takarua; will feature in Bowls NZ’s new short, fast-format bowling concept, screening live on Sky Sports for six weeks from 23 October. Adding interest for Canterbury enthusiasts will be the participation of the Woodend Bowling Club’s team in this television event named ‘Bowls3Five’.
Division 1: 1. Seamus Curtin (Stokes Valley) 21 d Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (Gore) 17
Division 2: 1. Taylor Horn (Glen Eden) 21 d Darryl Read (Belmont Park) 13
Division 3: 1. Aiden Takarua (Point Chevalier) 21 d Nicole Toomey (Victoria) 16
Division 4: 1. Tom Taiaroa (Kaikorai) 21 d Clayton Hockley (Mangere) 17
Results for all section and post-section games, final player placings and photos can be found at www.burnsidebowlingclub.com