The annual Men’s New Zealand Interprovincial tournament took place in Ashburton last week with the Canterbury team looking to try and repeat their efforts of the year prior at the Aorangi hosted event. The competition was tight all week with many matches coming down to the final holes and seesawing scores resulting in a tight table at the conclusion of round-robin play. With just the top 4 progressing to the Saturday semi-finals, there were many disappointed districts with 3rd to 10th place all separated by just 1 point. Ultimately however Canterbury unfortunately missed out on the playoff as they recorded 2.5 games with just one more win being required to progress.
After the first-round bye the Canterbury team came out firing in their opening round 2 fixture sweeping side an improved Poverty Bay East Coast side who themselves were full of confidence after upsetting Otago in round 1. Canterbury getting up 4-1 in that one with big 5/4 wins to Kobori and May.
Day 2 saw the first of the doubleheaders of the testing schedule coming up against Waikato and Hawkes Bay, both of which were eventual semi-finalists. Both were extremely tight matches with the men coming out on the wrong side of a 3-2 defeat in the morning vs Waikato but bouncing back to win by the same scoreline in the afternoon vs eventual finalists Hawkes Bay. Both Toeke and May recording two wins from two on the day to keep up perfect records at that point.
Going into Day 3 with 2 wins from 3 games the team was well and truly in the hunt with just the one round to be played on the day vs Otago. Unfortunately, in what turned out to be a common theme the team went down in a very tight match 3-2 to the Southerners with the contest again coming down to the final hole. Kobori lead well from number 1 with 4/3 win and Hilton getting his first win of the tournament 2/1.
With the day 3 defeat, moving into day 4’s two rounds meant the team effectively had to win both matches in order to advance with multiple different scenarios on the table for various districts to make the playoffs. First up they came up against a strong Manawatu/Wanganui side who were sitting in the semi-final spots and in good form. Yet again the men were on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline having battled strongly throughout the match. Once again May and Toeke got the W’s for the team who had both only dropped one game each playing at 4 and 5 respectively. After some prolonged calculations reflecting on the other association's results it became apparent that the men were half a point of being able to qualify which meant they went into their last match vs Wellington playing for Pride. Wellington themselves were well and truly in the hunt for the playoffs and needed a positive result against the Cantabrians to secure a spot on the Saturday. After another tight contest the match was halved 2.5 games apiece which was enough for Wellington to secure 3rd position overall on games won. The highlight of that match was undoubtedly Zach May’s performance who went -9 through 12 holes to put away his opponent 8/6 early in the match.
So, with the 7th round in the books Canterbury ended up with a 9th place finish. Having played 3 of the eventual semi-finalists including a victory over Hawkes Bay who went onto the final, as well playing just one of the teams that finished below them and neither of the teams that finished in 7th and 8th, the men definitely played the cream of the crop with the way the draw worked out. The player's efforts could not be faulted and as is the case with the sport, the fine margins of many of their games ultimately lead to their eventual midtable finish.
The week's individual standout was Zach May’s performance with a 5 win,1 defeat record featuring some impressive play that left a mark on many of his opponents. Mike Toeke the team captain also performed well with 4 wins, 1 A/S, and 1 defeat to lead from the front.
The full results can be viewed – HERE.
Congratulations too to the eventual winners Taranaki as they picked up their first NZ Interprovincial title.