AC Invitations 2024 Results

The Top 8 and Second 8 events were played at Nelson-Hinemoa from 16-20 March, while the Third 16 took place over the weekend of 15-17 March in Paraparaumu.

Top 8 AC Invitation – CA Silver Tray

In the Top 8 AC Invitation, played in fantastic conditions and on challenging lawns, saw eight players within the top 150 world rankings competing through two sets of round robin matches.

Unfortunately, Chris Shilling had to withdraw after six games, which meant that after the first round of matches, Greg Bryant (Nelson) had a commanding lead, having won 5 of his first 6 games, with two triple peels along the way. His only loss came to then 3rd placed Toby Garrison (Wellington) who had 4 wins, just behind Paddy Chapman (Thames Valley) on net hoops. John Christie (Thames Valley) was close on their heels with 3 wins form the opening round.

Bryant looked the man to beat by Tuesday, having won his next four games to sit on nine wins. However, a 26-21 loss to John Versey meant that Greg’s final game, against Paddy Chapman, was essentially a playoff for the title as Paddy had won eight games up to that point and had a superior net hoops difference. Toby Garrison also had eight wins, but had fewer net hoops and was mathematically out of a shot of winning the Silver Tray.

In the aforementioned key game, Chapman was ruthless, winning 26-0 with a triple peel. This gave Paddy one hand on the Top 8 title, as he had 18 net hoops more than Greg going into his final match. He ultimately lost that 26-10 to Toby Garrison, but it was enough for Paddy Chapman to win the CA Silver Tray for the third year running and win it for the fifth time. Greg Bryant finished 2nd, just 2 net hoops behind, with Toby Garrison in third, also on 9 wins. This was an incredibly competitive Top 8 and illustrated the strength and depth of our elite AC players.

Second 8 AC Invitation – Miss Edwina Thompson Silver Tray

The Second 8 Event saw eight players from five associations selected. After the first round robin Dennis Bulloch (Manawatu-Wanganui) lead the field with 6 wins from 7 games ahead of Graeme Fisher and Callum McKinnon (both Wellington) on 5 wins and Luke Rive (Auckland) with 4 wins. All four of these players were still in contention to win the event up until round 12. At this stage Bulloch, Rive and Fisher were on 9 wins with McKinnon trailing on 7 wins.

The second last round saw Rive drop a game while Bulloch and Fisher added another win to go one win ahead on 10 wins from 13 games. Fisher struggled to get past William Rush (Nelson), who kept Fisher out of the game for almost hours.

In the final round Bulloch faced Rive with Rive needing a win to stay in contention and relying on Fisher to drop the final game against Nelson Morrow (Auckland). Bulloch managed to get the first break and on the scoreboard but ultimately it was Rive who prevailed with a comfortable 26-10 win to go to 10 wins as well.

With 3 players on 10 wins it all came down to the final game between Morrow and Fisher, which started late. The game was a nervous affair at times with uncharacteristic errors made and the innings and lead changing several times. In the end Morrow prevailed and thereby crowning his fellow Auckland player Luke Rive to win his first invitation event. During round three, the youngest player in the tournament, Callum McKinnon, achieved a Gold Merit Award by completing his first Triple Peel in tournament play during his win against Vincent Commarieu (Nelson). The achievement is even more impressive considering the challenging lawns in Nelson.

Third 16 AC Invitation – Roger Murfitt Trophy

For the Third 16, competitors were divided into two blocks, with the top six from each advancing into cross-block playoffs.

Nicholas Flood (Manawatu-Wanganui) dominated Section A, winning all seven matches and getting both balls to the peg in each of them. He only conceded 52 hoops along the way. Geoff Gibson (Hawkes Bay) finished second with 5 wins, and Matthew Spooner (Wellington) third, ahead of Carolyn Fordyce (South Canterbury) on net hoops.

In Section B, Wellington’s Baubre Murray led the way, winning six tight matches to set up a final against Nicholas Flood. Mark Huttley (Wellington) finished second, followed by Bonnie Johnstone (South Taranaki), who had 17 more net hoops than 4th placed Mike Newport (West Coast).

In the playoffs, Doug Nottage (Nelson) took 11th place with a 26-18 win, while Owen Evans (Canterbury) won the 9th place playoff. Carolyn Fordyce won her 7th place playoff 19-4. In the last of the other playoffs, Mark Huttley clinched 3rd place from Geoff Gibson.

However, in the final, Nicholas Flood continued his dominant form shown throughout the three days, beating Baubre Murray 26-7 to win the Roger Murfitt Trophy for the first time, and his 2nd piece of CNZ silverware.

CNZ would like to thank both hosting Associations, the managers, volunteers and players from all three Invitation events for making them a great success.