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Cook Islands world bowlers performing well

Saturday 2 September 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Bowling, Sports


Cook Islands world bowlers performing well
Aidan Zittersteijn at the 2023 World Bowls Championships Tournament Gold Coast, Australia. CIs BOWLS/23083116

Team Cook Islands participating at the 2023 World Bowling Tournament on the Gold Coast, Australia from August 29 to September 10, have experienced a number of challenges in the first week of bowls.

As of Thursday (AUST time) this week, the Cooks Bowling Team results are as follows. Women’s Singles (Tai Jim) - Section 2, 3rd Placing Overall; Men’s Pairs (Aidan Zittersteijn, Taiki Paniani)  Section 4 - 3rd Placing Overall in Section 4; Women’s Fours (Emily Jim, Tiare Jim, Philomena Akaruru and Rima Strickland) Section 4 - 3rd Placing Overall in Section 4; Men’s Triples (Royden Aperau, Adoni Rairoa and Teora Turua) Section 4 - 4th Placing Overall in Section 4.

Team manager, Anthony Turua said he is “proud” of the team’s achievements in the tournament’s first week up against the 44 countries.

“Unfortunately we did not make the pool play, however our Men’s Pairs and Women Fours were so close against the wealth of teams from around the world.

 “We will now refocus our journey to next week’s discipline,” said Turua.

After a day off from the first week of bowls, the team were back at their training schedule at the SouthPort Bowling Green, Gold Coast.

“We would like to say a special meitaki ma’ata to our Cook Islands Community here in the Gold Coast and Brisbane for their support and catering,” he said.

The team is made up of players from Rarotonga, Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. The Men’s team are Royden Aperau (Rar), Taiki Bosco Paniani (NZ), Adoni Wichman Rairoa (Aust), Aidan Zittersteijn (NZ), Teora Turua (NZ); Women’s team are Tai Jim (Rar), Emily Jim (Rar), Tiare Jim (Rar), Philomina Akaruru Ieremia (NZ) and Rima Strickland (NZ).

Following are briefs of the first week of bowls from Cook Islands Bowls.

Adoni Wichman Rairoa at the 2023 World Bowls Championships Tournament Gold Coast, Australia. CIs BOWLS/23083117

The Men’s Pair ended a successful tournament with an outstanding exhibition of how you can win a game in blocks of one and two, eventually running out 19-5 winners over Papua New Guinea at Helensvale Bowls on the final afternoon of qualifying.

Having disposed of Switzerland by 18-11 in the middle round, this result gave them a sweep on the final day and third place overall in their ten-strong group, with six wins and three losses.

The Cooks were quick to make any small adjustments needed, it was a game for the purists, who always tell you that one at a time will do.

It was a difficult start for Tai Jim in the Women’s Singles, she always knew she had quite a task on her hands in the first match of the World Bowls Championships, as her opponent was five-time World Indoor Singles champion Katherine Rednall of England.

Despite a solid performance from her, that's how it played out.

Rednall was all business and confident; the ninth end, with eight bowls in shot and for Jim, despite four inside 18 inches, still dropped one shot. Final score: England 21, Cook Islands 8.

Jim suffered a second narrow loss of the day 18-21 to Wales, but was still placed well enough to close out her section in fourth, a good return earned by plenty of quality bowls against several difficult opponents.

They used to say that only mad dogs and Englishmen went out in the midday sun. Well, the sun at noon was shining brightly on the Broadbeach Bowling Club and since Tai Jim and her opponent Maria Evangelisti of Brazil were clearly not English, they saw no point in hanging around. A match that rattled through in less than an hour went to Jim by 21-12, but the telling stat was that only one of the 13 ends needed to settle affairs resulted in a single.

The three Cook Islands teams at Paradise Point delivered mixed results in the opening round with the Women’s Fours collecting the only win, 17-8 against Singapore.

The Men went down to two narrow defeats, 15-20 to Japan in the triple, and 14-19 to Malaysia in the pairs. Both Men’s teams now face Scotland, while the Four’s takes on Thailand.

Cook Islands Women’s Singles, Tai Jim and Maria Evangelisti from Brazil. CIs BOWLS/23083118

A superb game of bowls was decided by the barest of margins when the Men’s Triples played the high-profile Scots, eventually finishing all square at 15-15 when both skips missed their target by a fraction with their final bowls.

In the Women’s Fours, a poor start, which included conceding an ugly five on the fourth end, meant the women were always playing catch-up in their third round match, eventually closing with a flattering 16-19 loss to Philippines.

The Men’s Pairs went down in a tough contest, needing to keep the momentum of the previous day’s final match going, ran into a tough South African combination first thing in their morning match at Broadbeach. They finally fell short in a contest where every bowl mattered by 12-16.

The Men’s Triples continued their upwards progress in the middle round of day two, comfortably taking on China Macau, winning 27-8.

For most of their World Championship journey the Women’s Four have been in fine form. Playing against Papua New Guinea - a four on the first end and three two’s in increasingly windy conditions they were building an imposing lead. At nine ends it was 10-6, one end later it was 13-6. One more end win was probably going to be enough. And they had four clear-cut chances to get it… after looking so promising with 40 minutes to go, it was a devastating finale - PNG 15, Cook Islands 13.

On the same day, elsewhere things were brighter. Tai Jim completed a perfect day with a 21-14 win over France, and remains in the hunt. The Men’s Pair beat Falkland Islands 25-10 to bag two from three, and the triples lost to Philippines 10-18, which makes it hard for them to advance with only one game left.

Even after their dramatic collapse the day prior, the Women’s Fours team was the only team with a real chance of qualifying for the last eight at the World Bowls Championships.

To achieve this they had to beat Scotland and hope Thailand lost, or win by two shots less than they did. The Philippines took care of that, winning the game, but getting past the great wall of Scotland was another problem entirely.

One only had to look at the box score to see the difficulty. The Cooks won more ends but only managed one multiple, a two on the seventh. Then they had to scrap for every scrap they could get.

It was evident Scotland had come to play, after they too suffered a loss last evening. They were never far from the jack, if it moved, they were quick to get all over it again. Two of the three multiples the Scots achieved were on displaced jacks.

Scotland deserved their win, but 13-9, a low-scoring affair, was a true reflection of a very competitive match.

In other matches, Tai Jim lost a nail-biter to Emma McIntyre of Scotland, 19-21. The Men’s Pair decisively beat Sweden, 26-5; and the Men’s Triple in their final section game, beat Malta by 19-13.