Battle of the Bridge – Lindsay Knight

  There were many closely fought contests, but North Harbour had to concede overall superiority to its Auckland opponents in the 2020 edition of bowls’ Battle of the Bridge.

 Auckland men won the premier one and two competition 18-10 at Browns Bay and in the women’s premier one and two at Mairangi Bay Auckland prevailed 16-12.

 But the women’s singles in particular proved just how close Harbour came to success, with two players, Elaine McClintock, losing just 21-20 to Auckland’s well performed and vastly experienced Karen Hema and Anne Dorreen 21-19 to another strong player in Lisa Prideaux.

 Despite dropping the opening fours matches 0-4, Harbour’s women in both divisions recovered well in the pairs to have the scores tied up at 6-all going into the singles round.

 Auckland’s men side was bolstered by the sudden appearance in its ranks of the celebrated and often controversial Gary Lawson.

 Most of his long and mainly distinguished career has been with his native Canterbury and Wellington and he last appeared with the Auckland centre almost 30 years ago.

 He quickly made his Auckland return a significant one by skipping Jamie Hill, Taylor Horn and veteran Mike Bradshaw to an emphatic 20-9 fours win over a solid Harbour four skipped by Randall Watkins.

 That, though, was offset by a decisive loss by Lawson in the pairs to Graham Skellern and Peter Nathan and then in the singles Lawson was fully extended, winning only 21-19 over Nathan.

 While a disappointing outcome Harbour did have the consolation of being up against some powerful Auckland line-ups which were a blend of international experience in the shape of Lawson and Hill with some up-and-coming talent in the likes of Horne and Aiden Takarua.

 And seasoned players like Hema and Prideaux in the women’s teams had the support of promising youngsters in Paris Baker, Kimberley Hemingway and Ashleigh Jeffcoat.

 Harbour also had a disappointing close result in the one-to-five representative matches played at the Blockhouse Bay.  In the men’s event Harbour drew the games only missing out on the points differential and the women lost by one game