The Platinum Preview | Rounds 10 & 11

by Billy Johnson

It’s crunch time for teams in the Platinum Pennant, with seasons on the line and the Top 5 to be confirmed. From first to last, there’s some intriguing match-ups and mini-competitions at play starting with Cabramatta, Raymond Terrace and Warilla’s fight for top spot. The minor premiership affords a team the luxury of a path straight to the Major Semi-final, but just as importantly the mental edge of finishing the regular season on top. Don’t be fooled, this means just as much to these teams as anything else heading into the finals weekend.

We then have the fight for fourth and fifth, with five teams still in the mix. Will the current Top 5 remain or will teams from outside make one final surge back into finals contention? Either way, it’s coming down to the wire and teams will have so much to play for when they take to the greens.

Even teams out of contention for finals will have a huge bearing on the teams that do make it. One upset win could spell disaster for a team trying to make their way into the Top 5. Read on to see how these teams line-up and what their run home looks like for the weekend ahead.

Cabramatta Bullants

Current Position: 1st

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

Five-straight wins for Cabramatta including an epic one-shot victory against the Raymond Terrace Jets has allowed the Bullants to march to the top of the ladder with two rounds to play. With a Top 5 place secured, their eyes will now be set on claiming the minor premiership (and the $5,000 prize money to go with it) when they take on Engadine and Merrylands this weekend. With both these teams within touching distance of the Top 5, they’ll be throwing everything they can at Cabramatta with their seasons on the line, so the Bullants will be well aware that these last few rounds will be no walk in the park.

Also up for grabs with the minor premiership is a direct path to the Major Semi-Final, and two chances at claiming the inaugural Platinum Pennant title. Look to the rink of Jamie-Lee Worsnop, James Reynolds, Greg Jeans and Aaron Wilson to lead the way for Cabramatta as they currently sit top of the player ladder with 8 wins from 9 matches and a collective margin of +55.

Raymond Terrace Jets

Current Position: 2nd

Upcoming Matches: Belrose (A), Mt Lewis (H)

The Jets have slipped to second spot as a result of their narrow loss to Cabramatta in Round 8, but still have a chance of claiming the minor premiership if they win both of their remaining matches and rely on the Bullants dropping points.

Raymond Terrace will also want to head into the Finals weekend in form, so will be aiming for two straight wins against Belrose and Mt Lewis this weekend. Easier said than done, but with only two losses to their name all season by 1 and 6 shots, it’s hard to deny that the Jets are in solid form and will be one of the teams to beat.

Warilla Gorillas

Current Position: 3rd

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

Let me take you back to Round 2 when the Gorillas were one win and one loss, sitting in 7th spot on the ladder just outside the Top 5. Even at this early stage of the season, some pundits were brave enough to suggest that it could be a tough season for the Gorillas. Fast forward to now with Warilla sitting in third place, guaranteed an appearance in the Finals weekend and a chance of the minor premiership, it;s safe to say they put any doubts to rest about their ability in this Platinum Pennant competition.

Winning the minor premiership would be the perfect result for Warilla as they prepare for a home finals campaign, however I’d argue that they’ll be more focused on securing a Top 3 finish, and therefore two chances at winning the title should they lose their first finals match.

Two away matches against Merrylands and Taren Point could be tricky for the Gorillas, but they’ll be up the challenge as they look to extend their four-match winning streak. One win could be enough to secure a Top 3 spot, but with their lofty standards the Gorillas will be aiming for two victories this weekend.

St Johns Park Saints

Current Position: 4th

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

Of all the teams in the competition, the Saints have the most intriguing run home. Win two matches and they are a chance of finishing in the Top 3 and securing that all important second chance at the title. Lose two matches and they risk potentially falling outside the Top 5 altogether.

Form suggests that St Johns are on track for two wins this weekend – their three losses this season have come from the only three teams currently above them on the ladder. The Saints will be favourites in their clash against Carlingford, and should they win that will secure a Top 5 spot when they take on East Maitland. The Round 11 clash against the Griffins could be interesting in itself, with the Griffins a theoretical chance of making the Top 5 if they win back-to-back matches over the weekend.

We could sit here all day going through the myriad of potential outcomes, but put simply for the Saints it’s a case of win one match for security, win two for opportunity.

Mount Lewis Lions

Current Position: 5th

Upcoming Matches: Wenty Leagues (H), Raymond Terrace (A)

The Lions are sitting precariously in 5th spot with one win from their last four matches. They have a three-point buffer on sixth-placed Engadine, with the only way to guarantee a finals berth is winning 17.5 out of the available 20 points this weekend. One win may be enough, but it’s far from a certainty with Engadine, East Maitland and Merrylands all chasing that coveted fifth spot on the ladder.

The Lions host Wenty Leagues in Round 10 and will be backing themselves to win this encounter. There’s some added pressure in winning this match knowing that their final round will be a trip to the fortress that is the Hangar to play Raymond Terrace. The Jets have only been beaten once at home this season and will have no intentions of adding to that tally, which makes for a potentially classic encounter with the Lions fighting for their season survival when they make the trip north.

Engadine Cougars

Current Position: 6th

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

The Cougars’ search for a finals spot comes down to this final weekend when they take on Cabramatta and Wenty Leagues. While possible, it’s unlikely that the Cougars will crack the Top 5 if Mount Lewis win both of their remaining matches, so all Engadine can do at this stage is win their remaining two matches and hope that the other results fall their way.

Most will be backing the Cougars in their match-up against Wenty Leagues, but it’s a different story against the top of the table Bullants. Having only lost one match all season, the Bullants are arguably the team to beat right now. That being said, the Cougars proved in their win over Raymond Terrace at the Hangar earlier this season that on their day, they can beat anyone. Throw in the added incentive of having their season on the line, the Cougars will no doubt come out firing. Write them off at your own peril!

East Maitland Griffins

Current Position: 7th

Upcoming Matches: Taren Point (A), St Johns Park (A)

At the start of this season, not too many would have predicted East Maitland to finish in the Top 5, but opinions clearly mean little to the Griffins who still have a chance of making it to the finals weekend.

They’ll be travelling to Sydney for two away matches against Taren Point and St Johns Park, two well supported teams who will be making the most of their home ground advantages. For the Griffins, the equation is the same as last week, keep winning and keep hoping that other results go your way.

It’s going to be a frantic finish to the regular season rounds, and it’s safe to say that East Maitland have earned themselves some new fans as a result of their Platinum Pennant campaign. The only question left now is whether it finishes this weekend or later in May!

Merrylands Magic

Current Position: 8th

Upcoming Matches: Warilla (H), Cabramatta (H)

Last weekend was not kind to the Magic, losing two matches and slipping from 5th to 8th on the Platinum Pennant ladder. Currently on a three-match losing streak, Merrylands will be well aware that it’s do or die for their season this weekend. Much like Engadine and East Maitland, the Magic will need two wins and hope that other results go their way in order to work their way back into the Top 5.

Of all the clubs fighting it out for fifth spot, Merrylands face the toughest run home taking on 1st placed Cabramatta and 3rd placed Warilla, both at home. No team in the competition has beaten both Warilla and Cabramatta (although Taren Point could achieve this with a win over Warilla in Round 11) so it’s a tough mountain to climb for the Magic if they are to keep their finals hopes alive.

For the objective viewers, take note of these match-ups – Rice v Kelly, Sherriff v Teys, Thompson v Henry. The line-ups for the Cabramatta match are just as enticing, so whatever the results for Merrylands you know it’s going to be a star-studded affair.

Taren Point

Current Position: 9th

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

Out of contention but still showing resolve, Taren Point will face East Maitland and Warilla in their final two rounds. The return of newly crowned World Champion Ray Pearse will be a welcome boost for The Point, and they’ll be looking to make life as hard as possible for the Griffins and the Gorillas in their remaining matches.

Look out for Ray Pearse and his rink to continue a good run of form over these last two rounds!

Wenty Leagues Magpies

Current Position: 10th

Upcoming Matches: Mt Lewis (A), Engadine (H)

While not a chance of making the finals themselves, Wenty Leagues will play a pivotal role in determining the Top 5 after Round 11. Playing Mount Lewis and Engadine – two teams in the race for the finals – a result to Wenty Leagues in either of these matches, if not both, can completely derail other teams’ seasons.

To add a little more pressure to their opponents, the Magpies’ Round 9 win over Merrylands has sent a reminder to these teams that Wenty are no pushovers, they’re capable of beating any team.

Belrose Bulls

Current Position: 11th

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

Pending Round 10 results, pride will be on the line for Belrose when they clash against Carlingford, with the winner of that match avoiding the wooden spoon.

Their Round 10 clash against Raymond Terrace at the Hangar will be a real test for the Bulls, but they can go into the match with the freedom of knowing that a win will be a welcome bonus – and for opposition teams that freedom can be hard to overcome!

Carlingford Koalas

Current Position: 12th

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

They came close to ending the streak last weekend, but unfortunately for the Koalas it’s now 8-straight losses for them as they head into the final weekend. They play St Johns Park in Round 10 which will be a tough match-up, and then finish their season away at Belrose.

As previously mentioned, this showdown could determine who finishes bottom of the ladder this season, and anyone who plays competitive bowls will know that there’s plenty on the line in this match. Will Carlingford snap their streak on the weekend? Only time will tell!

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