Results – The Grove Orewa, BNH Mens Championship Fours – report by Lindsay Knight.

  • February 12, 2024

Helensville, the club which has won everyone’s admiration for consistently boxing above its weight, added to a fine centre record by winning the men’s championship fours title at the weekend.

In Sunday’s final at a windswept Takapuna, they won a thrilling final against the spirited and gallant opposition of a Steve Yates-skipped Birkenhead four 20-15, a a margin which didn’t quite reflect how dramatic and tense the concluding stages had been.

To win the title Helensville’s Carlson Barnett, Ricky Howe, Ron Cowper and Bart Robertson had to survive throughout the tournament several crisis points which could have been their undoing.  They were, indeed, the eighth post-section qualifier for after losing their opening game to Jean Viljeon’s Browns Bay they only scraped into the final eight as the second placed team with the best differential.

Then in the quarter-finals they had to come from a nil-nine deficit to beat Keith Benson’s Manly, who with some impressive wins in section play had been the top qualifiers.

In the semi-finals they were again precariously placed against Simon Poppleton’s Takapuna line-up of Philip Skoglund, Raymond Skoglund and Jason Parker.  Having conceded seven shots on the eighth end, Poppleton himself looked to be on the verge of gaining almost a similar number on the 14th end. But with his side six down and only 12-11 ahead on the board. Barnett played a magnificent saving shot to draw the jack and so effect a seven-shot swing.  So instead of being 17-12 behind Helensville went into the last end two ahead and with enough cushion to gain the win.

In the final, too, they had to repel a late Birkenhead comeback when superb shots by Birkenhead’s outstanding three Jack Huriwai and Yates on the 13th and 14th ends meant the teams were locked at 15-all playing the 15th and final end. But again the composure under pressure of the experienced Helensville’s four prevailed.

It was the second title this season for Barnett, Howe and Robertson after their win before Christmas in the triples and was special for all of them, for it added a second bar to Robertson’s gold star and was an apt farewell for Howe, who is soon to return to his native Northland.
And it was the 12th Harbour title for the club stalwart Cowper, who shortly will celebrate his 83rd birthday.

However, it was a great effort by Birkenhead to make the final as it lost its intended skip Daymon Pierson to illness, with second year player Nick Cape, with a fine cricket background, taking his place in the four and Yates moving to skip. For Huriwai and lead Jimmy Heath it was a frustrating loss as each is just one win away from a gold star.,

In the quarter-finals the Browns Bay four of Viljoen, Gideon van den Berg, Ray Menzies and Mike Garton beat Takapuna’s Jerry Belcher, Steve Hoeft, Bevan Smith and Ian Hardy on an extra end.  In making the semi’s the Viljoen went one better than their more celebrated club-mates, Neil Fisher, John Walker, Colin Rogan and Brian Wilson, who went out in the quarters to Birkenhead.

Takapuna’s Poppleton four won the other quarter-final, from another Birkenhead combination skipped by Neil Drew.

Considering the challenges posed by Sunday’s nasty south-westerly wind, the standard of bowls was very high. In Saturday’s section play, a number of teams having had two wins were unlucky in narrowly missing the cut.