DEFENDING champions Samuela Tui and Jona Koroitamana were pushed to the wire in the opening round of the Trans Diesel-sponsored Master Pairs Championship at the Vatukoula Bowling Club yesterday.
Playing against home town favourites Sekaia Naibili and Lagere Netava, both Tui and Koroitamana won 19-16 after a hard fought battle. Championship co-ordinator Semesa Lewai said many close scores were recorded in the opening round.
He said this was because of the excellent condition of the greens.
"The competition is tight," Lewai said.
"Eleven teams are participating. The pair of Muni and Uday failed to turn up. There will be three rounds of matches before the quarter-finals."
Banana Cup champions Shorab Khan and Kanda Samy Mudaliar made a bright start to their campaign. Khan and Mudaliar downed Rick Eyre and Dan Lum On 22-16.
The Nadi pair of Arun Kumar and Munesh Kumar defeated the father and son combination of Caucau and Eminoni Turagabeci 18-13. Semesa Naiseruvati and David Aitcheson beat Jone Netava and Saki Nakeke 24-15.
Anil Kumar and Permal Satya defeated the grandfather and grandson combination of Panapasa and Lema Matailevu 24-18.
Two top players, former world number three Ratish Lal and national rep Abdul Kalim, were not allowed to participate. It is believed that the two were involved in an incident during the Vatukoula Gold Mines Mixed Fours International Bowls Championship earlier this year.