Only three players remain unbeaten and in contention to top their pool section at the end of day two of competition at the North East Valley 10,000 this afternoon.
Among them is Blackjack and 2011 champion Tony Grantham.
Grantham dominated his group in section play, winning with relative ease, but in his last game of the day he had to come back in the match for a 25-23 win over Queenstown’s Nick Buttar.
With three losses in what is a very competitive group, Buttar’s chances of playing after the section look slim.
New Zealand High Performance Team member Sheldon Bagrie Howley continues with a one-sided winning streak after faltering to Grantham 25-16 in the first round on Friday afternoon.
Grantham and Bagrie-Howley are now out of chances of making the first round of play after the section late on Sunday afternoon.
Green home player Keanu Darby is the second player to go the first two days unbeaten.
He stunned the crowd with how he defeated Blackjack Blake Signal (Wellington) with a hard-fought 25-23 win that had Signal looking to heaven for divine guidance.
But any request for such advice fell on deaf ears as Caleb Hope (Stokes Valley) bounced back from back-to-back defeats to inflict back-to-back defeats on Signal 25-24 and leave second place in the group. a wide open.
Ray Martin (Victoria BC, Wellington) is the only other player to remain undefeated.
He leads Group Three and is in good shape to lead Group Three in the post section, and with red ink everywhere, a second qualifier will only emerge from the last two rounds of the section tomorrow (Sunday).
With red everywhere in the fourth group, but with only one defeat each, the qualifiers for the post section will surely come from two of the three players, Jamie Hill (Auckland), Sean O’Neill (Burnside) and Finbar McGuigan (Stokes Valley ).
All three have played each other and post-section qualifying will come down to the results of the last two rounds of section play or point differential.
We can say that the match of the day was the match in five rounds between McGuigan and Murray Scott (Nelson).
McGuigan appeared to have stolen a march to victory as he reached match point 22 ends to hold a 24-10 lead, but took 11 more ends to score the only point he needed to clinch the game, winning with his final bowl 25-24.
Matches in the final two rounds of the section begin Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m.
The first round of post-section play is scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m.
By Wayne Parson