Battle of the Bridge – 5 December 2021

report thanks to Lindsay Knight.

   Despite a wide range of worthy performances, North Harbour’s representative teams narrowly missed out to their Auckland counterparts when the annual Battle of Bridge contest was held on Sunday.

 An inability to gain sufficient preparation, because of the pandemic, was a factor in the men’s premier first and second teams being edged 18-10 by their strong Auckland opposition. This was enough to offset the remarkable tie achieved in the premier women’s matches and the narrow wins in the one-to-five-year grades, Auckland prevailing overall by four.

  The premier men also had to contend with difficult, gusty conditions at Papatoetoe. For all that there were plenty of positives for the management team who were pleased with a number of team and playing performances considering the lack of competitive play.

 “We have some way to go but this was a promising start considering there has been a very limited preparation,” commented chief selector Gary Stevens.

 The fours combinations of Simon Poppleton, Daymon Pierson, Brent Malcolm and

 Jerry Belcher and of Gordon Smith, Jack Huriwai, Duane McDonald and David Payne complemented each other well in their wins.

 Payne in particular, not long out of junior ranks, was extremely consistent, winning all three of his matches and showing considerable potential, while Malcolm distinguished himself with a narrow singles win over the talented Aiden Takarua.

 The women’s premier matches at Blockhouse Bay, incredibly, ended in a draw that could not be broken even with the application of a differential across all of the matches.

 There were again many fine individual performances. In the second team, Adele Ineson won all of her matches and Irene Donaldson had a satisfactory debut at this level and in premier one, Millie Nathan had a good singles win, as did Elaine McClintock and Theresa Rogers, in her first premier one game, did well for two wins

   And the well-established pairs line-up of Lisa Parlane and Anne Dorreen had a decisive 19-8 win over a strong Auckland duo of Lisa Prideaux and Karen Hema. Head selector Graham Dorreen was pleased with the efforts of all squad members.

 At Milford, where the wind was also testing, both Harbour’s one-to-five-year teams achieved 8-6 wins. It was a notable comeback by the men for they trailed 2-4 after the fours and pairs, but then won six of the eight singles, while Michelle McDonald and Ngaire Ball performed well in the closing singles matches to give the women another 8-6 win.