The first day of the NSW Senior Inter-Zone Championships has been completed with some sides asserting early dominance over their section. Under the new format introduced by Bowls NSW, both section winners and section runners-up progress through to the quarter final knockout stage, which gives more teams the opportunity to compete in post-sectional matches.
In Section 1, Sydney Northern (Zone 9) have a stranglehold on first place after recording two convincing wins over the Far North Coast and Manning District. The Zone 9 contingent have only lost one rink over their first two games and are guaranteed a top two finish which assures them a quarter final spot. Second place in this section is up in the air with all three remaining sides in the mix to make post sectional play. Manning District (Zone 11) are best placed to claim second place but will need to overcome the Far North Coast (Zone 1) if they are to do so.
Section 2 has a somewhat surprising leader in Greater Western Sydney (Zone 5). In a section that features the powerhouse Zone 12 and the ever-consistent Zone 15, both of which feature NSW Senior representatives in their sides, it is Zone 5 who have proven to be the team to beat. Margins of two and four in their two respective games suggest that victory did not come easy, but they have nonetheless justified their position atop the section and placed themselves in prime position qualify for the quarter finals. Second place will come down to who wins between Zone 12 and Zone 15 today. Victory will guarantee either side a quarter final spot, and in the unlikely event of a draw, Zone 15’s superior points tally will see them through.
Illawarra (Zone 16) lead Section 3 having won their first two games, and only a 10-0 loss to Hunter (Zone 6) tomorrow could see them potentially fail to qualify for the quarter finals. Newcastle (Zone 2) need only to beat North West NSW (Zone 3) to virtually guarantee their place in post sectional play and will be confident of doing so after recording a solid 66-54 win over Zone 6 in Round 2.
Finally, in Section 4 it is North Coast (Zone 14) who are in the driver’s seat having won both of their games today. South Western NSW (Zone 8) and Sydney North West (Zone 10) are equal second on 10 points, but it is Zone 8 who might feel slightly more confident of qualifying as they face Mid Western NSW (Zone 4) who are winless thus far. But, as the saying goes anything can happen in bowls, and every team still has a chance of qualifying.
There is much to come from the final round sectional play at Charlestown and Kahibah Sports as the qualifiers and quarter final draws are finalised. For more information on the Senior Inter-Zone Championship and score updates, please click the link below and follow the prompts.
By Billy Johnson