The Platinum Preview | Rounds 8 & 9

by Billy Johnson

We love this part of a season, where sides in the Top 5 look to establish themselves as competition favourites while those on the outside begin their charge for the finals. Those burning questions start to arise like who will win the minor premiership, who is the dark horse of the competition, and whose season might be on the brink after this weekend?

Once again we’ll look into our crystal ball (accuracy of predictions not guaranteed) and preview the crucial Round 8 & 9 matches coming up for each side in the Platinum Pennant. Here we go!

Raymond Terrace Jets

Current Position: 1st

Upcoming Matches: Cabramatta (A), Taren Point (A)

It’s now five wins in a row for the high-flying Jets who in that run have only dropped 3.5 points. If that wasn’t enough, in their last three matches they’ve beaten every team by at least 20 shots which is an incredible feat given the quality of the competition.

Given Raymond Terraces’ recent run of form, their Round 8 clash with fellow ladder leaders Cabramatta is set to be one of the matches of the competition so far. 1st v 2nd on the ladder, a bevy of state and national representatives and two teams hitting form at the right time, you can’t ask for much more.

Following this monumental match up is a trip to Taren Point for the Jets where they will be looking to further improve their impressive record this season. Two wins this weekend will put the Jets in a commanding position to take the minor premiership, a goal which they will have their sights firmly set on.

Cabramatta Bullants

Current Position: 2nd

Upcoming Matches: Raymond Terrace (H), East Maitland (A)

Cabramatta haven’t tasted defeat since Round 4 against Taren Point and haven’t dropped a rink in their last two rounds. Their come-from-behind win against rivals St Johns Park wasn’t just a victory, it was a message sent to every other team in the competition that the Bullants mean business, and that they can find a way to win under any circumstance.

That never-say-die mentality will be tested in their Round 8 clash against Raymond Terrace. The Bullants will know all about the Jets’ recent run of form and will be doing whatever they can to put an end to it at home. Their next match is an away trip up to East Maitland to face the Griffins, and the Bullants will be searching for another win to solidify their spot towards the top of the ladder.

Warilla Gorillas

Current Position: 3rd

Upcoming Matches: St Johns Park (H), Belrose (H)

Warilla have been quietly going about their business, winning back-to-back rounds and slowly working their way up the ladder. Now in third spot, it’s hard to ignore the firepower we have all come to associate with the Gorillas. A Round 8 clash against St Johns Park looms as a key match, as the winner of this will put themselves in a great position to qualify for the finals. With a home ground advantage calling for the Gorillas should they qualify, they’ll want to secure their place in the Top 5 as soon as possible.

After their match against the Saints is another home game against the Belrose Bulls who are yet to win away from home this season. The Gorillas have an opportunity to cement their spot as competition heavyweights this weekend, and it all starts with their match against the Saints.

St Johns Park Saints

Current Position: 4th

Upcoming Matches: Warilla (A), Mt Lewis (A)

Just like the Gorillas, the Saints can all but secure their place in the Top 5 with back-to-back wins this weekend, but it won’t be an easy task for them. The Saints have only lost two matches so far this season, to two of the three teams currently above them on the ladder. The third team above them, Warilla, they will play in Round 8. It’s always a tough task beating Warilla at Warilla but St Johns Park will have no shortage of confidence when they make the journey south.

Round 9 will see the Saints play Mount Lewis, one of the many teams hovering around the Top 5. St Johns Park have played Mount Lewis many times over the years and understand what it takes to beat the Lions on their home turf. They’ll be aiming to do so again come Saturday when they line up.

Merrylands Magic

Current Position: 5th

Upcoming Matches: Mt Lewis (H), Wenty Leagues (A)

Fifteen shots is all that separates the Magic from their Round 8 opponents Mount Lewis and the wrong side of the Top 5. Merrylands will be aiming to create some distance between them and the chasing teams, and their fate is in their own hands when they take on the Lions on the Bowls NSW live stream. The line-up of Heath Lewis, Michael Clarke, Nathan Rice and Aron Sherriff against Josh Berry, Tyson Wilson, Steve Glasson and Nathan Wise makes for a match that you don’t want to miss.

A match against last placed Wenty Leagues looks to be an opportunity for Merrylands to secure more crucial points, but the Magic will be aware that at this stage of the season there is no such thing as an easy win.

Mount Lewis Lions

Current Position: 6th

Upcoming Matches: Merrylands (A), St Johns Park (H)

Will this rollercoaster season for Mount Lewis continue? The Lions rebounded from a tough first round loss to win four-straight, but since then have lost two matches 8pts – 2pts, going down by an agonising 2 and 7 shots respectively. Their next shot at a win will come against Merrylands who sit just above them on the ladder and in the very relative ‘safety’ of the Top 5. A win in this match will see the Lions jump past the Magic into the Top 5, an opportunity that they will not want to miss.

It gets no easier in Round 9 for the Lions when they face the Saints at home. The Lions Den hasn’t been the happiest hunting ground for Mount Lewis in recent weeks with their last two matches at home resulting in narrow losses. The Lions will be hoping to change that in Round 9 and know that a win against the Saints will seriously boost their chances of finishing in the Top 5.

Engadine Cougars

Current Position: 7th

Upcoming Matches: East Maitland (H), Carlingford (H)

Despite sitting in seventh spot, the Cougars are in a fairly good position to pounce in this late stage of the season. Engadine are only two points outside the Top 5, and three of their remaining four matches are against teams below them on the ladder.

At the risk of sounding too obvious, their next match against East Maitland is crucial. A win here separates them from the Griffins and pending other Round 8 results, could see the Cougars work their way back into the Top 5, such is the logjam in the middle of the ladder right now.

The Cougars will take further confidence in knowing their next two matches are at home, an advantage that could very well be the difference between them winning and losing this weekend.

East Maitland Griffins

Current Position: 8th

Upcoming Matches: Engadine (A), Cabramatta (H)

The equation is simple for the Griffins, win all four remaining matches and hope other results go their way. This might seem harsh given East Maitland are only 8.5 points outside the Top 5, but with Merrylands or Mount Lewis guaranteed to earn points in Round 8, a loss to Engadine would be disastrous for the Griffins’ finals hopes.

Coming off a solid win against Wenty Leagues will be a boost for East Maitland as they take on Engadine and Cabramatta this weekend, and they’ll be doing whatever they can to continue their winning ways.

Taren Point

Current Position: 9th

Upcoming Matches: Carlingford (A), Raymond Terrace (H)

It’s been a tough season for Taren Point sitting on two wins after seven matches, and they’ll again be without key player Ray Pearse for their upcoming matches against Carlingford and Raymond Terrace. The Point have shown glimpses of brilliance in their matches against Cabramatta and Belrose, and this will be enough to put their opponents on notice that on their day, The Point can match it with anyone.

Despite mathematically having the slimmest chance of making the Top 5, it’s not looking good for Taren Point this season, but that won’t stop them from making life as difficult as possible for their remaining opponents.

Carlingford Koalas

Current Position: 10th

Upcoming Matches: Taren Point (H), Engadine (A)

After starting the season so promisingly, Carlingford have slipped down the ladder courtesy of a six-match losing streak. Two matches against teams outside the Top 5 in Taren Point and Engadine will give the Koalas some hope that they can enter the winners’ circle again, but they know they’ll have to improve on their recent performances.

We saw glimpses of what Carlingford are capable of in their live streamed match against the Warilla Gorillas, but as is the case in most of these Platinum Pennant matches, it’s the team that can sustain that high level for the longest period that will often come out on top. Look out for Carlingford to make that change and take a few big scalps across their last few rounds.

Belrose Bulls

Current Position: 11th

Upcoming Matches: Wenty Leagues (A), Warilla (A)

They’ve done it! The Bulls secured their first win of the season in torrential rain against the Engadine Cougars, and while they couldn’t follow it up with a win against Taren Point the Round 6 victory was enough to see Belrose off the bottom of the ladder.

They have a chance to put some more distance between themselves and last place when they take on Wenty Leagues in Round 8. While it may not seem a particularly important match, winning this clash will mean a lot to these two very proud and successful clubs.

Following their match against the Magpies is a trip to Warilla to face the Gorillas. A tough task for the Bulls, but as always they will continue fighting until the last round.

Wenty Leagues Magpies

Current Position: 12th

Upcoming Matches: Belrose (H), Merrylands (H)

Following their first win of the season against Taren Point, Wenty Leagues have lost their last two, failing to pick up a rink win in the process. This is something they will want to change when they take on Belrose and Merrylands at home.

While it hasn’t been the season that the Magpies had hoped for, they will look to finish their season with a flourish starting with their clash against the Bulls on Saturday.

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