“Nail-biting” tournament for Niue lawn bowls at the Digicel Oceania Challenge

Niue Lawn Bowls athletes at the Digicel Oceania Challenge | Photo Credits: Catherine Papani

A team of 11 from the Niue Lawn Bowls departed the island last week to compete in the Digicel Oceania Challenge which took place in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Team Niue fielded a full team in all Lawn Bowls disciplines including the singles, pairs, fours and triples. 

The five athletes for the womens team included Joy Peyroux, Pilena Motufoou, Catherine Papani, Lynsey Talagi and Vikatolia Liumaihetau. 

The five bowlers for the mens team included Stanley Tafatu, Desmond Hipa, Gregory Funaki, Keith Papani and Tukala Tagelagi. Team Manager was Bill Vakaafi Motufoou. 

The inaugural competition began on Thursday 13th April with an opening ceremony. The games officially took off on Friday 14th which continued for the ranking Monday of this week. 

Teams played three games each day where the time limit for each game was two and a half hours. 

Nine teams from the Pacific competed in the tournament including Aotearoa Maori, Cook Islands, Fiji, NZ Under 26s, Niue, Norfolk Islands, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga. 

BCN News reached out to Lawn Bowls Vice President Catherine Papani via email yesterday to provide an overview of the team’s performance and results of the tournament. 

Catherine says it was long days on the green in cold, cloudy and windy conditions. 

Although the team did not make any top placings, they achieved great results for team Niue such as Joy Peyroux who placed first in the womens singles qualifying section games. 

Joy competed in the semi-finals for gold and silver but lost by a narrow margin to Norfolk Island. Joy went on to play in the bronze medal match but lost by one point to Aotearoa Maori.  

“An excellent result for Niue Lawn Bowls”, says Catherine. 

In the women fours, the team placed third in their qualifying section but lost their ranking match to the NZ-U26s. 

In the womens pairs and triples teams, they placed third also in their qualifying sections but did not get to the medal playoffs but won their games for fifth place. 

For the mens singles, Stan Tafatu placed fourth equal in his qualifying section and ranked fifth overall in the final of the competition. 

The mens fours placed fifth in the qualifying section and ranked eighth place overall in their division. 

The mens pairs placed second in their qualifying section and went on to play for the bronze medal match against Cook Islands and with a nail biting game it was 14 all at the end of the game. The game continued with an extra end but unfortunately the Cook Island team won by one. 

The mens triples had one victory against Fiji but lost their other qualifying sections. 

Some of the challenges the team faced were the weather conditions and the fast greens, says Catherine. 

“Playing on artificial and grass for the women was challenging. Noting also that the majority of the players representing their country flags are based in New Zealand and play on these types of greens.”

“So for us to beat some of these teams meant they weren’t unbeatable and a great confidence boosting for the preparations towards the World Bowls Championships in the Gold Coast in August/September of this year where 48 countries will be playing against each other,” says Catherine. 

Team Niue returned back to the island on Monday this week.

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