Places in State pennants on line
PLACES in the State pennant finals are on the line when Mid North Coast men’s bowls teams contest Zone 14 play-offs tomorrow.
Park Beach, West Coffs, Urunga and Woolgoolga play their Lower North Coast opponents in grades 1-4 at Port Panthers, while Nambucca Heads, Bowraville and Sawtell have qualified for grades 5-7 play-offs at Park Beach.
State semi-finalists last year, Park Beach are confident of another strong performance in what will be a tremendous clash with Kempsey Heights.
Alan Watkins, a member of the 2009 team and now the side manager, said the team is equal to that which played so well last year.
“I think the reason for our success over the years has been the camaraderie among the players, the pride associated with representing their club and the faith in each other to get the job done,” Watkins said.
“Our teams are highly skilled across the three rinks and one of their major assets is the strength to fight hard when we get into a tight position.”
West Coffs will be able to call on the valuable experience they gained from contesting the State grade three pennant last year with 11 of those 12 backing up for the 2010 campaign.
One of those players, Garry Launt, said the club’s policy to mix youth with experience had again paid off for a team he said ‘is extremely compatible and plays for each other’.
“We have two 17-year-olds in Ben Watson and Cameron Wills right up to our oldest player who is 68,” Launt said.
“It has been a tough season and although a few of the results went our way during the year we always thought we had the players with the skills to have a good season.”
Launt admitted they knew little about their opponents North Haven.
“They are a team which came down from the ones to the twos this year so obviously they will be tough,” he said.
Urunga had a tremendous year in the grade three competition dropping only 9.5 points, their only loss on the synthetic green at Nambucca Heads.
Manager Rod Tarrant said the players were a compatible group and a champion team rather than a team of champions.
“We thought the side would perform well but the end result was beyond our expectations,” he said.
“Throughout the year we have had players out of the side and then return but, fortunately, we have been able to rely on some solid back-up to cover their absence.”
Woolgoolga’s grade five manager, Lyn Kaufmann, said consistency was the major reason her side had reached the zone play-off.
“They were only beaten once this year and they have really hung in there when it started getting tough,” she said.
“We have adapted well to the conditions each week and have worked well together and supported each other.
“We are confident of doing well this weekend especially playing on grass greens.”
Nambucca Heads grade five manager Brian Barber said Nambucca’s confidence would be lifted by a record win for the club in the final round against their major challengers, Woolgoolga.
“Our results at home on the synthetic this year have been terrific but the players will be mindful their record away from home this season wasn’t the best,” he said.
“It will be important to get as much practise as we can at Park Beach to get used to the conditions on grass and boost our confidence.”
Barber said the club was in for a tough game as their opponents, Lake Cathie, have gone through the season undefeated.
“Our teams are strong all-round and hopefully we can get the job done,” he said.
Bowraville grade six player, Greg Doolan, said the Tigers were primed for a big effort after a drought of seven years in zone pennants.
The club won the district sevens in 2003 and the sixes last saw this level of bowls in 2000.
In what is somewhat a family affair, there are three generations of the Doolan family in the squad while there is a father and son representation in Joe and Hilton Newman.
Doolan said he thought they had their best chance in many years to win a zone final especially when they were moved to the sixes this year after a last place finish in the fours last year.
“These players have been together at Bowraville for many years and the players are confident of a good showing against Port City,” he said.
Sawtell showed great fighting spirit in a come-from-behind win over Nambucca Heads in the Mid North Coast play-off.
The team is sure to respond to what should be a strong contingent of supporters led by enthusiastic manager Jim Charles.
During the year the team had hit some flat spots but with Park Beach greens running similar to Sawtell they should be up for a big performance culminating in a place at the State titles at Maitland.
ZONE 14 PENNANT FINALS
At Port Panthers
Grade 1: Park Beach v Kempsey Heights
Grade 2: West Coffs v North Haven
Grade 3: Urunga v Port City
Grade 4: Woolgoolga v Kempsey Heights
At Park Beach
Grade 5: Nambucca Heads v Lake Cathie
Grade 6: Bowraville v Port City
Grade 7: Sawtell v Lake Cathie