A top class field has been assembled to battle out the Taranaki men’s bowls Christmas pairs title after the opening rounds at the weekend.

After 39 teams had qualified on Saturday, the wet weather saw a major overhaul to play on Sunday, with all the action held indoors at the Paritutu complex.

Multiple sessions were held and by the evening the field had been reduced to 16 sides – and what an impressive lineup it is, too.

It includes those traditionally dominant skips in Taranaki – Craig De Faria, Darren Goodin and Dean Elgar – along with other top-notchers such as Hamish Kape, Steve Walker and Scott Roberts, who are all current members of the Revital Fertilisers Taranaki representative team.

Roberts and Tower teammate Mark Kuklinski remain on track to defend the title they won 12 months ago. In their only post section game, they beat Inglewood’s Gerry O’Sullivan and Eric Foreman 17-11.

Taranaki president Ian Andrews also remains a chance. Leading for Adam Collins, the Paritutu duo scored a three on the final end to sneak past West End’s John Garrud and Dave Wilson 15-13 in one of the more impressive games.

Paritutu’s Allan Batley and Mike Walsh came from behind to deny Oakura’s Steve Muller and Pat Walklin 16-15. But two other Paritutu sides were not as fortunate.

John and Aidan Zittersteijn, the winners from three years ago, were defeated 15-12 by New Plymouth’s Peter Robertson and Warren Bellringer, while John and Steve Cottam lost a titanic struggle 17-16 to Inglewood’s Steve Sabine and Graham Reive.

Play continues this Saturday at Paritutu, with an 8.30am start.

The draw for the last 16 is: S Roberts (Tower) v R Gadsby (Fitzroy), M Walsh (Paritutu) v C De Faria (West End), G Murfitt (West End) v H Kape (Okato), D Elgar (West End) v G Reive (Inglewood), A Collins (Paritutu) v B Walton (Paritutu), W Bellringer (New Plymouth) v W Hawkes (Vogeltown), G Pease (Fitzroy) v S Walker (West End), N Earley (Inglewood) v D Goodin (Paritutu).

Meanwhile, the weather prevented any post section play in the women’s Andersons Pies-sponsored open pairs, which was scheduled for Tower on Sunday.

The 18 pairs that had qualified on Saturday will now compete at Tower this coming Saturday.

Among the big names through are the defending champions, Marlene Barrowman and Heather Johns (Paritutu). After drawing a bye, Barrowman and Johns will play Hawera Park’s Pauline Kennedy and Kristin Stampa in what shapes up as a mouth-watering contest.

In other bowls news, this Sunday, at West End, all of the TCB Dentures-sponsored men’s interclub finals will be played. That includes the first division for the Bill Smee Trophy, where Inglewood, West End, Paritutu and Tower will participate.