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Winners . . . Rodney Fleming (left) and Dylan Edwards made a huge comeback to win the final. PHOTO: LEXIE MACDONALD

A dramatic final was a fitting conclusion to a “special” Rusty Mac Memorial Pairs tournament last weekend.

The inaugural tournament at the Awamoa Bowling Club was organised in honour of the late Russell “Rusty” MacDonald, a local bowling stalwart who died in a boating accident last year.

It attracted an impressive field of top-class bowlers who had either played with or against Russell.

Russell’s son and tournament convener Craig MacDonald said he was “blown away” by the support and turnout.

“The whole weekend, everything just flowed,” MacDonald said.

“There was not one person who said they wouldn’t come back.

“The standard of bowls was very, very high.

“It was a huge thing for North Otago.”

In the final, Dylan Edwards and Rodney Fleming made an epic comeback to beat Andrew and Bruce Kelly.

Trailing 10-1 after five ends, the pair stormed back into the game, eventually winning 21-12 over the Kelly pairing.

MacDonald said the final was an “exceptional” display of bowls.

“Dylan never gave up hope, he just knuckled in, and then Rodney Fleming just all of a sudden jumped into it.

“It was insane.

“Andrew said he will be back next year.

“He wants his name on that trophy.”

Several members of Russell’s family had travelled to Oamaru for the tournament to spend the weekend together.

“There were some unreal stories about Dad; guys just reminiscing about what he had done,” MacDonald said.

“Just the banter and togetherness that everyone had.

“It was almost like a festival atmosphere.

“Everyone was there for the right reasons.”

The Rusty Mac Memorial Pairs would now become an annual event, which would take place at the same time each year and open the bowls season, he said.

“Bowls New Zealand have been on board, so next year we could have an even stronger field.”

The tournament also raised $370 for New Zealand Land Search and Rescue.