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Bowlers aim high at nationals

Repeating their bronze medal-winning effort of two years ago at this week’s national intercentre championships in Christchurch will be a big ask for Wairarapa’s men’s bowling team.

However, selector Lester Dee is confident of a good showing after some encouraging performances at February’s Lower North Island octagonal tournament in New Plymouth.

In Wellington in 2021, the last time an entire intercentre national tournament was held, Wairarapa came within one shot of making the final, losing to Auckland in a thrilling semifinal.

The 2022 nationals were changed to a series of regional qualifying events because of the impact of covid-19, with Wairarapa narrowly missing out on making the finals in Auckland at the lower North Island tournament in Hastings.

Each fixture includes singles, pairs, and fours, and with teams naming eight players, there is flexibility for changes in the combinations from round to round.

All eight players, named by Dee, featured at the octagonal tournament, with most showing good form. The pair of Clint Carroll and Mark O’Brien were the stars, winning five of their seven games, and Dee believes that combination could shine in Christchurch.

Aaron Love played the singles in New Plymouth, but Matthew Day, who has previously performed with success in singles, is likely to share the load this week, while the four features three players from the successful 2021 side – Gary Muriwai, Bill Brunenberg, and Gavin Hamlyn.

“Singles are always touch-and-go, and hopefully, Aaron or Matt can do the job,” Dee said.

“Matt will play in the fours to start with, and we’ll see how he goes, but we’ve got a couple of other possibilities. The four is pretty settled, and it’s basically the same four that played in the 2021 finals.”

Although it won’t be easy to repeat the third place of two years ago, Dee is confident the team will go well and can progress beyond pool play to the quarterfinals.

Wairarapa start their campaign tomorrow against Marlborough, then play Counties-Manukau and West Coast on Friday, and Bay of Plenty and Taranaki on Saturday.

Wairarapa women’s selector Tanya Wheeler is waiting until her players get a chance to practice in Christchurch before she settles on her combinations, with more than a day to prepare for their first-round fixture against Whanganui on Friday.

“I will be looking at who is coping with the greens because they’re way different than our greens; they’re super slick, super fast and harder to navigate, so not quite sure yet,” Wheeler said.

The four was the best-performed discipline at the octagonal with four wins, and Wheeler is keen to stay close to that selection of Rozanna Muriwai [skip], Janalle Frew, and Stacey Smyth, with Tina Hogg coming in for the unavailable Wendy Mitchell.

Wheeler said her expectation is always to do better, but she acknowledges Wairarapa don’t have the depth of other centres.

“It’s probably more about building up consistency, but we’re obviously going out to win and qualify for the next step.”

The women play Whanganui, South Otago, and Canterbury on Friday before meeting Bay of Plenty and Central Otago on Saturday.

Wairarapa teams

Men: Bill Brunenberg, Clint Carroll, Matthew Day, Hayden Frew, Gavin Hamlyn, Aaron Love, Garry Muriwai, and Mark O’Brien.

Women: Makaia Campbell, Janalle Frew, Tina Hogg, Rozanna Muriwai, Lil Renata, Stacey Smyth, Tanya Wheeler, and Mary-Ann Wilson.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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