Nelson hosted the 5th edition of the Terminator Mallets NZ U21 GC Championship over this Easter weekend with a strong line up of players vying for 2021 season honours, many for the last time in the U21 division.
Edmund Fordyce would be chasing a 3-peat of the NZ Championship title and an amazing 4th consecutive final appearance, but to do so would have a contingent of in-form contenders to deal with – the likes of 2020 NZ GC Champion Logan McCorkindale and 2021 Nationals GC runner-up Josh Winter but a few of several NZ representative players on show.
Two players from each of the four qualifying blocks would progress to the knockout stage. Although he appeared a little uncomfortable on the slow paced Nelson lawns, top seed Fordyce progressed out of Block A, carding four straight match wins with just a single game loss to Robbie Spooner. With a very narrow points differential, seasoned U21 campaigner Jason Hodgett edged out Spooner and Isobelle-Alan Ward for the second spot in the block.
Likewise, McCorkindale looked untroubled in Block 2. Joining him in the knockout stage with an inspired win over Nathan Bullen was Nelson’s top ranked player Michael Lauer. An In-form Kaleb Small looked threatening with match wins over Josh Winter and Chris Spittal in the block stage to join the knockout with Winter from Block 3.
Winter’s Canterbury clubmate Levi Franks and Palmerston North’s Paul Kaiser dominated block 4 results to take their places in the 2021 championship knockout draw.
Hodgett’s U21 GC career finally came to an end in round 1 with McCorkindale cruising into the semi-final in straight wins. Likewise for Fordyce and Winter over their opponents Lauer and Small. Kaiser eventually dispatched Levi Franks in 3 games to make his first U21 semi-final appearance.
Both semi-finals went to 3 games. Paul Kaiser snatched the first from Logan McCorkindale 7-6, however Logan found another gear and took the next two games comfortably. Fordyce and Winter exchanged blows with a game each but the defender Fordyce ultimately edged out his fellow Cantabrian to reach his record 4th straight NZ U21 Final and the first opportunity of recording a 3-peat of the event.
McCorkindale had other ideas, winning the first of the five game final. Fordyce snatched the next two, 7-6, 7-6, but was under constant pressure from McCorkindale finding the middle of any target under 10 yards. Even a boundary jump for hoop 5 (and holding for a 1 yard position at 6!!!) in game 4 couldn’t overcome McCorkindale’s relentless accuracy and a 7-4 win to set up a game 5 decider for the tile.
Edmund’s typically assertive start in the 5th quickly secured a 2-0 lead but Logan refused to miss, treating the gallery to a display of world-class clearances for a lead at hoop 5. And it proved to be the difference on the day, Edmund eventually missing a clearance at 11 that provided Logan the only opportunity he would need to secure the 2021 title on the 12th hoop.
It was fitting that four players originating from the region that has dominated CNZ U21 Doubles competition since it’s inception, celebrated their last U21 tournament by contesting the 2021 Doubles final. Three of the finalist players appeared in the last championship final but on this occasion, Chris Spittal paired with Edmund Fordyce to retain his doubles title, defeating Logan McCorkindale and Kaleb Small 2-7, 7-6, 7-5.
Cashmere’s Josh Winter /James Duggan placed 3rd and clubmates Levi Franks / Myles Duggan won the 2021 Doubles Plate.
Wellington player Robbie Spooner won the Singles Plate title with an 85.7 win percentage, followed by Nathan Bullen with 71.4%.
Full results can be found on Croquet Scores, here.