The battle to claim a place in the semi-finals of the 2018 Inter-Zone Sides Championship has reached the last stage with just one of the three rounds of sectional play remaining.
Bowls NSW has partnered with the City of Wagga Wagga to present the 2018 Championships. While the City celebrated some much-needed rain in the lead up to the event, conditions on the opening day were glorious and helped the combatants produce some fantastic bowls and great contests.
The 200 plus players and officials, along with a host of family, friends and supporters have felt a warm welcome in the City of Wagga Wagga, particularly at host clubs The Rules Club Wagga and Wagga RSL.
The 16 Zones, representing all areas of NSW, are drawn into four pools of four sides to play a round robin competition. The best performed side in each pool progresses to the semi-finals, to be played on Sunday (9 September) afternoon.
Newcastle hold the advantage in Section 1 (at Wagga Rules) after a pair of strong wins. Matt Baus and his team recorded a 32-8 to provide the backbone of their 76-50 (9-1) opening-round victory over Central Coast. James Cook claimed a rink victory for Central Coast to salvage a point from the encounter.
Baus again recorded a huge win in the second round,his 36-7 victory powering Newcastle to a 79-37 (9-1) win over North Western NSW.
North Coast had opened their tournament with a solid 60-52 (9.5-0.5 points) victory over North Western NSW.
They were on track to recover from an early deficit against Central Coast, fighting back to level the scores with 2 ends left to play. North Coast held shot on the penultimate end, only to see the Central Coast skipper nudge a short bowl onto the jack to have a bowl from each side resting on the jack to create a rare tied end. Zone 14 again held shot on the final end with 3 bowls left to play, only to see James Cook play a running shot to edge the jack sideways to lay four shots. Craig Donaldson appeared to be on track for the match winner but slid between the shot bowls and jack. Cook narrowly missed adding another shot to record a tied rink (and claim half a point) but the result secured a 61-57 win for Central Coast (9 points to 1).
North Coast will need to record win at least 2 rinks and beat Newcastle to overtake them at the top of the section. Central Coast’s hopes lie with claiming all three rinks over North Western NSW and relying on North Coast winning 2 rinks and beating Newcastle. Any other result to North Coast or Newcastle will end Central Coast’s hopes.
Illawarra lead Section 2 after good wins over Greater Western Sydney and South Eastern NSW. Hunter sits in second place after recording a 60-57 (9-1) win over South Eastern NSW and a 55-55 (4.5 to 5.5 points) draw with Greater Western Sydney.
Illawarra will win the section if they can win 2 rinks against Hunter, irrespective of the overfall outcome of the match. Hunter however can claim the berth in the semi-final if they can win the match and, at a minimum, record one rink win and one rink draw.
Hunter will be aiming to steal a place in the semi-finals by beating Illawarra and recording at least 2 rink wins. It is mathematically possible for Hunter to progress with a single rink win, however to do so that single rink win would need to give them a 32-shot master-board margin.
Mid-Western NSW are the only undefeated side in Section 3 at Wagga RSL. They started with a 74-54 (9-1) win over Manning and then edged out Sydney Northern 59-53 (9-1).
Sydney Northern sit in second place courtesy of their big 85-47 (10-0) win over Far North Coast in the opening round. Far North Coast is third after they beat Manning 64-62 (8-2) in round 2.
Far North Coast and Mid-Western NSW clash in the final sectional round, Far North Coast can jump ahead of their rivals but to do so must win all three rinks and beat Mid-Western NSW by at least 36 shots on the master-board
Sydney Northern’ s hopes rely on a Far North Coast win. They must beat Manning and win one rink more than Mid-Western NSW in the final round.
Section 4, also at Wagga RSL, will come down to a four-way last round showdown after all four sides recorded one win each in the 2 rounds played.
Sydney Central and South started their campaign with a commanding 66-45 (10-0) win over host-Zone, South Western NSW while Sydney North Western beat reigning champions Sydney South Western 59-51 (9.5-0.5).
The Host Zone then stunned the giant-killing Sydney South West in the second round 66-49 (9-1), while the reigning champions rebounded with a 75-51 (9-1) win over Sydney Central & Southern.
The two best placed sides in the section clash in Round 3. Sydney Central & Southern lead the section (11 points) and will take on Sydney North West (10.5) while Sydney South West (9.5 points) take on South Western NSW (9 points).
Sydney Central & Southern will be certain to win the section if they record a victory and claim at least 2 rink wins. Sydney North West will be certain semi-finalists if they can win 2 rinks and record, at worst, a draw on the remaining rink.
Sydney South West will almost certainly need to win all three rinks over South Western NSW and rely on their metropolitan neighbours not recording a result that will lock up the section lead.
The Host Zone’s chances are slim. Unless there is a draw in the other match, South Western NSW must win all three rinks over the reigning champions and rely on Sydney North West winning, but recording only one rink win in doing so.
Action continues at The Rules Club Wagga and Wagga RSL with cards to be called for Round 3 at 8.30AM. Semi Final action is expected to get under way at both host clubs at 1PM.