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Mid-table finishes the target

Shirley Poutu moves into the pair. PHOTOS/FILEPeter Ireland will skip the men’s triples.

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CHRIS COGDALE
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The Wairarapa men’s and women’s teams are targeting mid-table finishes at the lower North Island Octagonal tournaments to be hosted by Kapiti in Levin from today to Sunday.

Wellington are likely favourites in both tournaments, which also feature teams from Kapiti, Manawatu, Whanganui, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, and Gisborne-East Coast.

Wairarapa men’s selectors Warren Fisher and Lester Dee have been forced to make a late change with the withdrawal of Gary Caffell as skip of the pair because of injury.

The experienced Les O’Donovan moves from the triples and joins Matthew Day in the pair.

Caffell’s withdrawal is a blow given that he and Day were the best-performed of the Wairarapa combinations at the quadrangular tournament, which was played at this weekend’s venue Levin, winning two of their three games.

However, O’Donovan has been a consistent performer for many years at representative level, and he should form a solid combination with the in-form Day.

Hayden Frew comes into the men’s triples.

Hayden Frew replaces his Featherston clubmate O’Donovan as lead in the triples.

Fisher picked Wellington, a team laden with internationals, as favourites for the three-day tournament.

“We’re getting better, and if we finish midfield it would be great,” he said.

“We’re targeting Kapiti because we beat them last time, Gisborne-East Coast will be the next ones we’re targeting, and then Hawke’s Bay, and then we’ll try to upset a few of the big guns.

“We’ll be aiming in each of the disciplines to win four games.”

Wairarapa women’s selector Tanya Wheeler is also aiming for a mid-table finish for their tournament in Paraparaumu, despite finishing fourth at their quad tournament at the same venue.

“We’ve had to cut the team down to 10 players, and there are different disciplines, so the team is probably a bit stronger,” she said.

Wheeler is counting on Makaia Campbell to continue her good form in the singles, after winning her third consecutive Wairarapa Open Singles title by beating talented Carrington second-year bowler Stacey Smyth 21-11 in the final at Eketahuna last Saturday.

One player missing though is the experienced Wendy Mitchell, who is out for the season after a knee operation. Shirley Poutu moves from the four to skip the pair with Helen Baker.

Wheeler said that a change of format adds a different dimension to the tournament.

“Because of covid-19 and the way they need to limit the number of greens being played on, you can change your team around every game, where before you could only change within a discipline.

“It will be one of those things that after every round we will have to look quite closely at what’s going on and who is playing who, to see what is the best fit.”

Two games are to be played today, three games on Saturday, and two games on Sunday.

A scatter draw is used, so the different disciplines play different provinces in each round.

Wairarapa teams for the lower North Island Octagonal tournament

Men

Singles – Scott MacKenzie; Pairs – Les O’Donovan [skip], Matthew Day; Triples – Peter Ireland [skip], Stewart Campbell, Hayden Frew; Fours – John Claydon [skip], Garry Muriwai, Darren Meyrick, Richard Anderson.

Women

Singles – Makaia Campbell; Pairs – Shirley Poutu [skip], Helen Baker; Triples – Dale Rowe [skip], Alanna Saunders, Olivia Mancer; Fours – Tanya Wheeler [skip], Janalle Frew, Leah MacKenzie, Rozanna Muriwai.

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