Bowls NSW State Pennant Finals Reach an Epic Conclusion
Congratulations to all the participants in the Bowls NSW BCiB Open State Pennant finals! The competition was fierce, and the skill and dedication displayed by all teams was truly commendable. The finals showcased some thrilling matches across various grades, and the results are as follows:
Raymond Terrace 54 def Soldiers Point 48
It was a brutal series to make it to the final, but two combatant teams consisting of the best Port Stephens had to offer emerged to battle it out for the crown.
And it must be said, the best that Port Stephens has is amazing. Both teams having beaten star-studded metropolitan teams to progress through to the final. Raymond Terrace defeating the perceived favourites in Cabramatta after losing two out of three rinks. The winning margin on the third rink was big enough to send them through.
Soldiers Point comprehensively took down the might of Taren Point in a comprehensive win leaving them with their cross-town rival as the only obstacle to claiming the pennant. Suddenly, a victory looked likely for Soldiers Point.
Two of the three rinks scratched and clawed at each other in a way that only our sport can. The battle ebbed and flowed with neither side managing to kick away to a massive advantage. Nick Cahill’s team tied the game up on the last shot of the game to Matty Baus’s hard fighters with a draw on 14 all. Next door a similar, nail-biting game came to life as the teams led by Cohen Litfin and Lee Schraner drew at 20 all.
It was down to the final rink. The final teams battled it out valiantly and were the last team to finish. The massive crowd at Forster Bowling Club clustered around the last remaining rink while Michael Beesley’s team fought valiantly but it was the best bowler in Australia that broke the back of the Soldier’s Point attack as only Aron Sherriff can.
It was a remarkable game to end an extraordinary BCiB Grade One Open Gender Pennant Finals Series at Forster Bowling Club. Point Stephens will be erupting for some time about this game and Raymond Terrace’s victory in both the ones and the twos! A fitting end to a brilliant pennant season.
Raymond Terrace 75 def Mudgee 47
Ballina and Byron Bay Bowling Clubs were the locations for the 2023 Grade 2 State Pennant finals. Near perfect weather and 1st class bowling greens greeted the participants at both venues for roll-up Thursday and competition days Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Full marks go to the greenkeepers in this regard and the quality of bowls witnessed by the many spectators was outstanding.
Section 1 saw Cabra Vale Diggers, Gunnedah, Raymond Terrace and Warilla do battle with Cabra Vale Diggers and Raymond Terrace winning their way through to the Saturday quarter-finals. In Section 2 it was Toongabbie, Forster, Mona Vale and Port City with Mona Vale and Forster progressing. Section 3 comprised of Penrith, Mudgee and The Entrance where Mudgee and The Entrance were the successful quarter-finalists, and in Section 4 Narrandera, Grandviews, Merimbula and Casino were drawn with Grandviews and Merimbula making the last 8.
To progress to the semi-finals, Raymond Terrace defeated Forster 69-53; Cabra Vale Diggers defeated Mona Vale 67-60; Mudgee defeated Grandviews 66-55 and Merimbula defeated The Entrance 65-53. Thus, the scene was set for Sunday AM clashes between Raymond Terrace vs Cabra Vale Diggers and Mudgee vs Merimbula.
The semi-final between Mudgee and Merimbula was a fluctuating tussle with Merimbula having the early advantage but Mudgee gaining the upper hand mid-way through. Merimbula fought back and appeared to have the momentum but Mudgee regained composure and won the latter few ends to achieve a 57-47 win and progress to the final.
The other semi-final was a real nail-biter. Raymond Terrace held what seemed a match-winning lead with about a dozen ends to play but Cabra Vale had other ideas and clawed back the margin to just 2 shots with one end remaining. With Raymond Terrace holding a single shot on the final end, Cabra skip Mick Harry had the difficult task of taking the shot bowl out with his final delivery. He hit the desired bowl but it failed to go cleanly out of the head and so it was a 68-65 victory to Raymond Terrace. The final between Mudgee and Raymond Terrace resulted in a convincing win 75-47 to Raymond Terrace.
A tremendous effort by Mudgee to make the final but it was just not their day. Nevertheless, they took home the runner’s up flag, and a great deal of pride in representing their club. Raymond Terrace were deserved winners and Shane Evans, who wore two hats as manager and one of the 3 skips, delivered a proud yet humble speech at the concluding presentation ceremony.
Special mention must go to the organisation of the Ballina and Byron Bay Bowling Club’s officials, volunteers and staff all of whom rolled up their sleeves and contributed to the smooth running in all aspects of the three to four days. The commitment of Ballina club member Evelyn Fox to the planning and detail required to ensure all possibilities were covered was superb. It was particularly special to have Sharon Cadwallader, the Mayor of Ballina Shire, and Ballina club CEO Tere Sheehan, participate in both the opening and closing ceremonies.
Wagga Rules 66 def Tathra Beach 52
The Rules Club Wagga Wagga stood alongside the giants in state pennants with a brilliant victory in the Open Gender Grade 3 finals.
The Zone 8 champions recovered from blowing a huge lead against Leichhardt in a 63-59 opening sectional game loss, to then win their next five matches; capped off with a 66-52 victory over Tathra Beach (Zone 7) in the final at Club Charlestown.
Former two-time Zone 16 Singles champion Brett Pieper and his rink took command of the final with a 35-14 victory over John Chalker, while the gutsy Tathra Beach won the other two rinks as Lynton Riddell beat John Harriott 19-16 and Dylan Cuthbert edged out George Jackson 19-15.
Meanwhile, hosting the Grade 3 State Finals was especially memorable for Club Charlestown with the official unveiling of their new $3.5 million refurbishment at the finals.
The club co-hosted the three-day event with sister club, Club Lambton and won widespread praise from bowlers and supporters for the new look facilities which took centre stage in the semi-finals and final.
And while some bowlers were playing on a carpet green for the first time the Rules Club Wagga improved with every match and were worthy champions.
‘’To be here on a day when the club makes history is incredibly special,’ ‘ Rules Club Wagga team manager Chris Neaves said.
‘’The team bonded superbly and played as a united group the whole weekend.
‘’We have a team-first ethos which was a key factor in our success and has been a feature for the whole season. The guys get along on and off the green and it showed in the way we played the whole weekend.’’
Neaves said one tactical change following the shock first-up loss to Leichhardt – in which Wagga blew a 25-5 lead – was moving the experienced Bob Wilson from skip to play third for former Zone 16 representative bowler Brett Pieper; with George Jackson assuming skipping duties along with Pieper and John Harriott.
‘’The Leichhardt loss was a wake-up call and the change worked a treat,’’ Neaves said.
‘’Bob moved over to a new rink and played well and George (Jackson) did a great job as skip. You wouldn’t think one tactical change would make a big difference but it did and from the second game we played very well indeed.’’
Despite a first-up defeat Rules Club Wagga went on to clinch Section 4 at Club Lambton after Leichhardt were upset by Teralba 61-37 in round three.
And immediately into the knockout phase the new champions held their nerve under pressure with a thrilling 60-59 win over Section 3 runners-up Pittwater Memorial (Zone 9) in the quarter-finals.
Two rinks finished in a draw – 20-20 and 22-22 – with Harriott and partners scraping past Peter Robinson’s rink 18-17 to seal a semi-final spot.
The match was arguably the standout of the whole Grade 3 finals, with Wagga following up by beating Port City 67-54 in their semi-final with Pieper (26-15), Harriott (20-19) and Jackson (21-20) all victorious.
Meanwhile, Tathra Beach were rapt to make the State Final and continue a great run at major pennant championships in recent years.
The Zone 7 club has just 80 members but in 2018 won the Grade 4 men’s state flag, while the club’s ladies won a state women’s pennant title in 2021.
This year’s Open Gender side included father and son Alex and Adam Blacka, with local Tathra Beach junior Alex one of the youngest bowlers in any grade at the State Finals at age 16.
‘’We’re so proud to have got as far as the final,’’ Tathra Beach team manager Kirsti Fristad said.
Tathra Beach finished runners-up to Zone 3’s Inverell RSM in Section 1; beating Lorn Park 56-50 and Umina Beach 54-51, while beaten in a tight round two clash 58-53 by Inverell.
Tathra Beach then stormed to a 70-50 win over Section 2 winners Padstow in the quarter-finals before marching to the final with an impressive 65-47 semi-final win over Dundas Sports ; with the Zone 7 side winning all three rinks.
St Johns Park 57 def Wingham’s 56
After three full days of Bowls action at Tamworth, St Johns Park are the BCiB Grade 4 Open State Pennant Champions after defeating Wingham 57-56 in a nail-biting Final.
The lead changed multiple times during the final keeping the crowd of spectators on the edge of their seats.
The vocal band of team supporters urged their teams on, in what has been a match fitting of a State Final.
St Johns Park defeated Young in the Semi-Final, and Wingham defeated Halekulani to face each other in the Final.
The 2022-2023 Grade 4 Open State Pennant Finals proudly supported by NSW Government Office of Sport, were co-hosted by South Tamworth Bowling Club,
West Tamworth Bowling Club and North Tamworth Bowling Club, with all finals played at South Tamworth.
Quirindi 57 def Merimbula 51
Quirindi, in the North West Slopes and on the rich Liverpool Plains, are the 2022/23 Bowls NSW Open Grade 5 Pennant Champions, following a hard-earned win over Merimbula at Club Dubbo last Sunday afternoon. Their 57 to 51 victory was played in ideal conditions, following the previous two days of extreme cold.
After 25 ends, the Merimbula Dolphins held a one-shot lead (24 to 23), but as the match entered the second half, Quirindi began to take the upper hand, getting out to a 15 shot lead with just ten ends to play. Despite a late burst from Merimbula, they were unable to claw back the margin, with Quirindi holding on to a well-deserved win.
Friday’s and Saturday morning’s sectional matches were held in very cold conditions. Sections 1 and 2 were held at Club Dubbo, and Sections 3 and 4 were played at Dubbo Macquarie.
Section 1 (Club Dubbo) – NBC Sports (Northmead), Cardiff, Pittwater Memorial, Merimbula
After Friday’s two rounds, all four teams had recorded a win each. In Saturday morning’s crucial games, where the winners would progress, NBC Sports and Merimbula advanced with solid wins over Pittwater and Cardiff respectively.
Section 2 (Club Dubbo) – Campbelltown City, Grandviews, Sawtell, Leeton Soldiers
Sawtell jumped out of the barrier with two solid wins on Friday. However, on Saturday morning, a big loss to Campbelltown City, and a big win by Leeton Soldiers over Grandviews, resulted in Sawtell (19 points) missing out on a quarter-final berth on a countback. Leeton and Campbelltown, both on 20 points, progressed, with Grandviews finishing fourth, failing to win a game.
Section 3 (Dubbo Macquarie) – Corrimal, Condong, Quirindi, Birrong Sports
At Dubbo Macquarie, Birrong Sports stormed into the quarter-finals with an unbeaten record in the section. Quirindi had two wins to qualify for the quarters, with Corrimal and Condong missing out.
Section 4 (Dubbo Macquarie) – Forster, Aberdeen, Parkes Railway, Ettalong Memorial
Local heroes, Parkes Railway, sailed through Section 4, winning all three games and giving their large fan-base much to cheer about. Forster finished second with 2 wins, ahead of Ettalong Memorial (1 win) and Aberdeen (0 wins).
On Saturday afternoon at Club Dubbo, Merimbula were too steady for Leeton Soldiers, leading throughout to run out comfortable winners 71 shots to 52. In the other quarter-final, there was nothing in it all the way between Campbelltown City and NBC Sports (Northmead). It got down to the last end, and with the large crowd of supporters on edge, Campbelltown held their nerve to win by the closest of margins, 55 to 54.
Meanwhile at the Macquarie Club, both quarter-final matches proved to be one-sided affairs. Birrong overpowered Forster on all three rinks, winning 78 shots to 49. Parkes Railway’s good run came to an end, when they also lost on all three rinks, succumbing to Quirindi, 60 to 50.
The sun finally came out for Sunday morning’s semi-finals at Club Dubbo, which was appreciated by bowlers and spectators alike.
In the first semi between Birrong Sports and Quirindi, Quirindi made the finals, leading for most of the match. Despite winning two rinks, Birrong could not make any headway on the masterboard, going down the 68 to 58.
The second semi-final between Merimbula and Campbelltown City was a thriller. Merimbula looked to be well on their way to the finals, leading for almost the entire game. However, Campbelltown had other ideas, storming home to tie up the game at 63-all after 63 ends. All three rinks had to go out and play an extra end each, with Merimbula winning on all rinks, thus progressing to the afternoon’s final.
At the presentation ceremony, Bowls NSW representative, Marina Deluchi, and Zone 4 Treasurer, Steve Torrens, were glowing in their congratulations to both Club Dubbo and Dubbo Macquarie, and the professional manner in which they ran the event. All players, officials and spectators were well looked after, and the staff and volunteers of both clubs are to be congratulated.
South Tamworth 66 def Warilla’s 53
South Tamworth Bowling Club clinched a state pennant flag with a hard-fought 66-53 victory over Warilla in the Grade 6 final at Warilla Bowls.
The Zone 3 champs beat Warilla by eight shots in their sectional match on Friday and two days later were triumphant in all three rinks in a very competitive final.
Facing their opponent on their home green, Scott Sweeney had a tight 23-18 win over Wayne Moore; Brett Goodchild edged out Ken Stopher 22-21, and Kevin Thomson beat Alex Hamilton 21-14.
South Tamworth emerged as one of the teams to beat after three wins to take Section 3 and then posted a 60-49 win over Section 4 runners-up East Maitland, before making it five straight victories by beating Section 1 winners Picton 63-60 in the semi-finals.
‘’It’s an incredible result,’’ South Tamworth BC Grade 6 manager Jeff Myers said.
‘’Whatever happened in the final we were going to be proud but to win it feels extra special. We’re not going home tonight, we’re going to celebrate this long and hard.
‘’When we get home we’re going to put the winning team photo up at the club and it’ll be there forever to mark this occasion.’’
South Tamworth boasts 120 bowling members and fielded a Grade 3, 4, 6 and 7 team in Open Gender pennants this season.
The club has a strong female base with 10 ladies playing Open Gender pennants this campaign including Roslyn Sweeney who played in a rink skipped by her husband Scott; and Ingrid Harriott who played in the same rink with her partner Greg Harris.
The South Tamworth champions also featured wheelchair athlete Des Cross who played a crucial role as second in the rink skipped by Brett Goodchild.
Myers said it was the balance of experienced bowlers such as Harris and veteran skip Kevin Thomson with talented less experienced bowlers including skip Brett Goodchild and lead Drew Nichols which proved a major factor in their success.
‘’In almost all our matches we started slowly and often trailed at the one third mark, then rallied in the second third and finished strongly in the last third,’’ Myers noted.
South Tamworth typified their fighting spirit by trailing early on against Picton in the semis before finding their winning momentum in the second half of their matches.
Meanwhile, runners-up Warilla had a terrific finals series, following a season in Zone 16 in which they lost just one of their 10 games.
Warilla and South Tamworth were drawn together in Section 3 with the visitors winning three tight rinks and overall 50-42 to claim the section with the Illawarra-based club runners-up.
Warilla won all three rinks in a 70-43 victory over Section 4 winners Terrigal and then beat St Johns Park 61-52 in the semi-finals, with Wayne Moore (22-10) and Alex Hamilton (19-18) winning their rinks.
And while Warilla missed out on claiming a sixth state pennant flag, it was still a fine effort to make the final.
‘’To go through the Zone season with just one loss and go all the way to the state final is a credit to all our squad,’’ Warilla team manager Brett Grimson said.
‘’We’ve been a strong club in the top grade for a while now, but it’s great that the lower grade bowlers share in some success and the spotlight.
‘’One of the great things about this whole weekend has been how friendly everyone has been. When we played Batlow RSL in our section they had a 93-year-old playing for them. That’s what bowls is all about – playing the sport you love at whatever age.
‘’The joy on everyone’s faces this weekend is something I won’t forget.’’
This season Warilla dominated at Zone 16 level in virtually every grade; winning five of the seven grades to earn every club pennant bowler’s dream of competing for a state flag.
Warilla Bowls are among the biggest clubs in NSW and is well versed in covering not just the major Bowls NSW events, but national and international events, including earlier this year hosting the World Indoor Bowls Championships featuring more than 30 nations.
The club has a world-class indoor carpet facility plus outdoor greens and recently upgraded its dining and entertainment bistros and hubs.
Ballina 72 def Gerringong 64
The third day of Grade 7 at Northmead BC saw the semi-finals played between Gerringong v Old Bar Beach and Northmead v Ballina.
The game between Gerringong and Old Bar Beach was neck and neck throughout, with the scores level at 54 shots each after 56 ends and still anyone’s game. After some great shots in the last few ends, Gerringong prevailed to progress into the final.
In the other semi-final Northmead were looking to secure a home-ground final in their match against Ballina, however, a slow start from Northmead saw Ballina move to a big advantage early on. Northmead managed to claw back to within 6 shots at the halfway point but dropped some consecutive scores in the third quarter making it too big of a challenge to overcome the in-form Ballina team who progressed into the final.
In the final game, Ballina maintained their solid form and led early on with some great draw bowls from the leads setting up the heads. The big board was skewed towards Ballina with one of their rinks gaining a big margin but Gerringong showed they weren’t going down without a fight and picked up the scores on the other two rinks to narrow the margin to 6 shots with 5 ends to go.
It looked like it was going to go down to the wire however Ballina had other thoughts and some great lead bowls and final shot conversions saw them maintain their lead to become Grade 7 State champions.
Congratulations once again to all the teams that participated in the Bowls NSW Open State Pennant finals.