The Platinum Preview | Finals Edition

by Billy Johnson

Finals weekend is upon us! After 11 rounds and 66 matches the Top 5 sides are locked in and ready to rumble at Warilla Bowls & Recreation Club. The action begins on Friday night with St Johns Park and Mount Lewis going head-to-head in a sudden-death Elimination Final alongside a blockbuster Qualifying Final between Raymond Terrace and Warilla.

The Qualifying Final winner will then face Minor Premiers Cabramatta, with the winner of that match securing a direct route to the Grand Final. The loser of the Qualifying Final will remain in the competition, going up against the Elimination Final winner.

Platinum Pennant Finals Series Structure

Cabramatta, Raymond Terrace and Warilla enjoy the luxury of having two bites at the cherry should they lose their first match, while St Johns Park and Mount Lewis will need to win four-straight matches if they are to finish the season as Platinum Pennant champions. With so much information to go through, we’ll analyse each sides form, their player line-up and why they can win the event.

Think you know who’s going to win the Platinum Pennant? Enter your predictions in The Perfect Score competition for your chance to win a Drakes Pride Prize Pack worth over $450!

Cabramatta Bullants

Recent Form: W W W W W

Top of the ladder and unbeaten in their last seven, Cabramatta will be full of confidence heading into their finals campaign. They’ll be fielding an unchanged side from their Round 11 win, an indication of the strong connections building between their players.

The Bullants will have the added bonus of kicking their feet back this Friday night as they watch Raymond Terrace take on Warilla, with the winner facing Cabramatta Saturday afternoon in the Major Semi-Final.

All three of Cabramatta’s rinks have performed well this season, but the pick of the bunch to date is the combination of Jamie-Lee Worsnop, James Reynolds, Greg Jeans and Aaron Wilson who have won a staggering 10 out of 11 matches with a net margin of +70.

Why they can win: It’s hard to keep this to just one reason but you can’t go past the fact that Cabramatta have only lost one match all season, and have beaten each of the four other teams in the Top 5.

Raymond Terrace Jets

Recent Form: W L W W W

The Jets have named an unchanged line-up from their Round 11 win, with Matt Baus, Lee Schraner and Peter Taylor skipping the three rinks. It’s a formidable Raymond Terrace side, and they’ve shown the ability to completely dismantle teams this season.

Cast your minds back to Round 1, where the Jets opened their season with a thumping 37-shot win over the Warilla Gorillas setting up the perfect start to their Platinum Pennant campaign. Their two losses this season were by just 1 and 6 shots, showcasing that Raymond Terrace have been in the fight for every match they’ve played thus far.

It’ll be a different beast altogether when they play the Gorillas on their home turf in the Qualifying Final, but you can’t deny the Jets will take some confidence from knowing they’ve bested the Gorillas already this season.   

Why they can win: The Jets have firepower, serious firepower. They’ve recorded two of the three largest overall scores this season and boast a net margin of +200, averaging a 23-point margin per win. Teams are on notice that if they don’t fire, the Jets will punish them with big scores.

Warilla Gorillas

Recent Form: W W W W W

The Gorillas are on six-straight wins and building confidence just at the right time. Securing a Qualifying Final spot on their home ground is a huge bonus, as they’ve proven to be difficult to overcome on the indoor green. Only Minor Premiers Cabramatta have gotten the better of Warilla at home this season, and the Gorillas will be keen to make a statement in the finals that they know their green better than any other teams.

There’s one major change to the Gorillas’ side with young gun Travis Moran slotting in at third for Aaron Teys, and marquee Luke Jones jumping into lead on that rink. A big move, and one that could prove to be a masterstroke if the Gorillas get up on Friday night.  

Why they can win: Home ground advantage. It plays such a big role in so many matches, and the Warilla players will know the intricacies of their indoor surface better than anyone else. In these high stakes, high quality matches, that level of knowledge can often prove to be the difference between winning and losing.

St Johns Park Saints

Recent Form: L L W W W

You almost have to feel for St Johns Park a bit, they won 8 out of 11 matches during the regular season and still didn’t manage to crack the Top 3, but such is the quality of some of these Platinum Pennant teams. It won’t bother the Saints too much though as they’ll be confident they only need one chance to win the Platinum Pennant, and they have the players to do it.

They’ve won their last three matches and will field an unchanged side for their Elimination Final against Mount Lewis, with Sean Baker, Ben Twist and David Ferguson skipping the rinks. Adding to their confidence is the fact that they recently played Mount Lewis, coming away with three rink wins and a comfortable 31-shot margin overall.

Why they can win: By the numbers, the Saints have scored the third-most shots of any side this season (677) and conceded the third-fewest shots of any side this season (574), highlighting their all-round ability as a side to score and keep opposition scores to a minimum. Once they get going, St Johns Park will be a hard team to stop.

Mount Lewis Lions

Recent Form: L W L W L

After a fast start to their season winning four from five matches, the Lions were flirting with the Top 5 cut-off and only just able to hold off a late charge from other sides looking to break into the Finals Series.

Four of their five losses have been to other Top 5 teams, an ominous sign for Mount Lewis as they begin their finals campaign against St Johns Park in the Elimination Final. Despite the unflattering record, the Lions could find this as a source of inspiration and embrace the ‘underdog’ tag that might be given to them for their matches. One solid weekend performance from the Lions is all that’s needed to claw their way to a Platinum Pennant victory.

Why they can win: Experience. Any side that has the experience of two of Australia’s most successful male Australian representatives in Steve Glasson and Wayne Turley should never be counted out. Throw in the form of Ben Winther and Brett Spurr, and the natural talent of Nathan Wise and Scott Thulborn and you can see why the Lions are a force in this competition.

Tune in from this Friday at 6pm on the Bowls NSW Facebook page or Youtube channel to watch the Platinum Pennant Finals, starting with the Elimination Final between St Johns Park and Mount Lewis!