The North and South Island teams will be facing off for the 40th time on September 26th in Christchurch. While the overall score favours the North at 29 wins to 10, having had a large winning streak from 2004 onwards, the South have been closing in.
There isn’t much separating the two sides - in fact, the scores from 2018 and 2019 concluded at 24-24 and 25-23. If that is a reflection of what is to come, then Kearneys Road Hall is bound to witness a thrilling day of bowls from start to finish.
The men’s singles match up could not be any tougher than Ashley Diamond against Paul Smith. Diamond is well-known for his incredible singles record from local tournaments through to national and international level. He holds the 2014 and 2016 National Singles titles, 2015 and 2017 Henselite Singles titles, and is a four-time champion of the Auckland Invitation Masters Singles. Smith has an Invitation Masters Singles win from 2006 as well as two interisland singles medals from 2012 and 2014. Last year he reached new heights as a singles player when he made the final of the National Singles and then went onto win the Henselite Singles soon after.
The same could be said for the men’s pairs match. Paul Wright and Richard Caddy are a formidable duo wherever they go, but up against Mat Blacks Gary Low and Daniel French? It does not get any better than this.
Over to the women’s events, you will find Keri Te Tamaki back in the singles for a third time with more experience than ever. This year she is up against Sheree Holmes. Though Sheree is new to the singles spot, she also has ample experience to draw from.
Fiona Keegan returns to pairs skip with Teri Anderson off the front. They will go head to head with a dynamite Alanna Moffitt and pairs lead specialist Elaine Carnie. Suzanne Mackie has an incredibly rich history of South Island representative bowls and it only continues. She will lead her team of Marie-Therese Hooper and Colleen Fenton well; as will Shelley Jacombs for Joy Archer and Sarah Warrington.
The Grant Rayner/Alex Reed combination is back again for the triples, this time joined by Kyle Waldron on debut. Kyle has been reserve before but now his consistent results at local, academy and national level have really paid off. Their opposition includes David Webb - who gave a remarkable debut performance last year as skip of the fours - combined with an experienced two in Hayden Warnes and rock-solid lead in Mat Bassett.
Mat Blacks Simon Thomas and Michael Lawson combine with Otago boys Brandon Williams and Daniel Sinclair. Simon and Michael have proven they are a winning combination on several occasions, and no doubt the young guns up front will provide a good foundation for them.
They will come up against the current National Fours Champion Matthew Ellis, whose team includes Island Champions David Archer and Shaun Blackbourn, plus the classy Marcus Trlin on debut as lead. Marcus has a number of results from over the years but the 2018 Henselite Singles win has got to be a highlight.
Also joining Marcus and Kyle on debut is Candace Andrew from Waikato. She won the National Fours back in 2012 and in recent years has stepped it up again. She will lead in the fours with NZ Representatives Lisa Gould and Dale Rayner as two and skip respectively, and Jude Martin who slots in nicely at three.
Kylie Gould keeps her spot as the South Island women’s fours skip following a successful trip last year. Her form in Canterbury from this season shows she is up to the task once again. Katrina Weallens is welcomed back as the three, while Christine Langley and Tracey van Tuel will be getting them started.
These North and South teams are sure to produce a test match to remember. Congratulations to everyone who made the team, particularly those on debut!