New Zealand bowls superstar Shannon Mcilroy was unable to add the Stoke Stakes to his considerable trophy cabinet. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Bowlers claim Stoke Stakes

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A pair of South Island bowlers are now $20,000 richer after claiming the Stoke Stakes at the weekend.

The three-day tournament saw some of the best bowlers in Australasia battle it out for the $20,000 prize pool, the biggest purse in New Zealand competitive bowls.

Maurice Symes of Blenheim and Warren Brown from Kaikoura required an extra end to do it, but edged Jordan Taylor and Shane Pascoe 21-20 in a pulsating final to be crowned champions.

Formerly a singles invitational tournament, this year brought 32 teams from around New Zealand and Australia.

Stoke Bowls Club special events coordinator Peter Rutherford says they couldn’t be happier with the competitive and diverse field that they assembled for the inaugural tournament.

Headlining the field was the man who had been the talk of the town after winning the World Champion of Champion Singles, Shannon McIlroy.

Shannon paired with popular Australian personality Damien McGee, but they were unable to progress past pool play.

Stoke team manager Brendon Hodgson says the weekend was a huge success. “We were lucky to get away with the weather on Friday, but it couldn’t have been better conditions.”

He says favourite Shannon was unlucky to finish 10th in qualifying and just miss the top eight.

“Their first game was a draw with Lance/Pascoe and then they lost two games by just one shot, but that was the brilliant thing about the format of the event with a random draw and one big section.”

Brendon says there were lots talented players, several former internationals and a number of New Zealand title holders.

“It was a quality field and I think that showed with the standard of play over the weekend.”