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Day makes top 16 at nationals

Matthew Day is the first Wairarapa bowler in many years to make the last 16 in the national singles championship. PHOTO/FILE


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Matthew Day is the talk of the town in Wairarapa Bowls after an outstanding run at the Bowls New Zealand national singles championship in Auckland last week.

Day made it through to the last 16 before he was knocked out by defending champion and New Zealand international Andrew Kelly.

The result was an outstanding achievement for the 37-year-old Masterton club bowler who was competing in the outdoor bowls nationals for the first time, although he has previous national championship experience having competed in indoor bowls tournaments, qualifying in the pairs and triples in 2019.

Day qualified for post section play from the field of 330 bowlers with three wins and one loss in section play.

In the first round of post-section play, Day won a nail-biting clash with Joe Whitelaw 21-20.

That was followed by a 21-17 victory over James Gavin in the round of 64, and a 21-17 defeat of Kevin Rainsford in the third round.

In the round of 16 match with Kelly, the scores were locked at 5-5 early on, before Kelly’s consistency came to the fore and he pulled away for a 21-9 victory.

Day said he made it hard for himself in several of his games when he had to come from behind, but overall, he was satisfied with the effort in his first attempt at national level.

“My goal was to qualify and then I hoped to get through one or two rounds and that would be good,” he said.

“I’m pretty happy, but I’m also a bit disappointed that I didn’t play as well as I could have.”

Day’s achievement is thought to be the best performance by a Wairarapa bowler since Ian Monaghan made the last 16 in Auckland in the early 1990s.

Martinborough’s Garry Muriwai, and Featherston’s Hayden Frew also qualified for post-section play, only to be knocked out in their first post-section matches.

Muriwai was beaten 17-21 by Darryl Read in the first round, while Frew got a first-round bye before losing 5-21 to Keanu Darby.

Day also teamed with Steve Willis from Greytown in the pairs, qualifying for post section play, where they were knocked out by 2015 champions Peter Sain and Rob Ashton in the first round.

Day will now turn his focus to making the Wairarapa representative side, and next month’s Wairarapa Open Singles.

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