Clubs eye State titles
THREE Mid North Coast clubs kept their State pennant dreams alive in the men’s bowls Zone 14 finals at Port Panthers and Park Beach on Sunday.
Park Beach (Grade 1), Bowraville (Grade 6) and Sawtell (Grade 7) will now head off to their respective State titles to be held on July 30, 31 and August 1 after eliminating their Lower North Coast rivals.
Unfortunately for West Coffs (Grade 2), Urunga (Grade 3), Woolgoolga (Grade 4) and Nambucca Heads (Grade 5), their outstanding seasons came to an end.
West Coffs suffered a heartbreaking one-shot loss to North Haven after appearing to have the match in their grasp.
For the winners there were many selections which could have been played on the jukebox to celebrate the occasion.
We Are The Champions, Simply The Best and Glory Days would all have been appropriate as players added Zone badges and flags to the district honours their clubs achieved earlier this year.
Park Beach, already winners of the State number one pennant, embark on another campaign after finishing as beaten semi-finalists last year.
Manager Alan Watkins said while it would obviously be ideal to go one better this year, he had already spoken to the players emphasising everything hinges on winning the first game at Uralla.
Watkins said a key to Park Beach’s win over Kempsey Heights was a run of 15 winning ends across the rinks during the middle stages which knocked the confidence out of their opponents.
“Once we had established a good lead we wanted to go on with the job because the players were fired up to take the game right down to the last end,” Watkins said.
While confident Park Beach would win at the weekend, Watkins was surprised by the 43-shot margin.
“Kempsey Heights had beaten some good teams to win their district title and we expected the match to be a lot closer,” he said.
“We pretty much beat them man for man across the three rinks with every player doing their job.”
Park Beach travel to Uralla for their sectional games against Alexandria-Erskineville and the winners from Zones 16 and 13 with the final set down for Armidale City.
For Bowraville this will be their first trip to the State titles for a club which has been trying for 50-odd years.
Tigers player Greg Doolan said the players and supporters celebrated hard on Sunday night.
Although the margin was never anything to feel comfortable about, Bowraville never lost the lead throughout their zone final against Port City.
“It was certainly a great feeling to win the final and it was something to savour over the last few ends – it really was a proud moment for our club,” Doolan said.
“The key to our success is that we play as a team, we have known each other for a while now and it is like one big family.
“We will be having a get-together each week to keep the momentum going through to the State titles.”
Bowraville play their section at Camden against Albion Park and representatives still to be finalised from Zone 4 and Zone 2.
For Sawtell, their win was another kilometre in a long and winding road to a State pennant which has so far eluded the club.
Manager Jim Charles said he didn’t feel comfortable until there was one end to play and the team was nine shots in front.
“When I knew we had it won it was a feeling of elation – I felt like running onto the green just like the woman supporting Lake Cathie on Sunday,” he said.
“I think having experienced players like Keith Sharman and Les Hilton has been a stabilising influence on the other players and that has enabled them to rise to the occasion.”
Charles said there were a few nervous moments during the season and some ups and downs, getting beaten by Bellingen when the side suffered from complacency was a real wake-up call.
“I think the players realised they had to lift and that is what they have done to win the following three matches,” he said.
“What is developing now is a real sense of mateship and they are starting to play as a team.”
An important strategy for Sawtell has been the mid-game catch cry to keep everyone on their toes.
“I just call coffee time and everyone knows what is going on,” Charles said.
“Getting to the State finals is an exciting time but for many of us it still hasn’t sunk in.”
Sawtell will head to East Maitland to contest the State titles with sectional matches against Merylands and the winners of Zone 12 and 13.
ZONE 14 FINALS RESULTS
Grade 1: Park Beach def Kempsey Heights 80-37
Grade 2: North Haven def West Coffs 57-56
Grade 3: Port City def Urunga 71-43
Grade 4: Kempsey Heights def Woolgoolga 60-56
Grade 5: Lake Cathie def Nambucca Heads 63-43
Grade 6: Bowraville def Port City 59-48
Grade 7: Sawtell def Lake Cathie 67-57