Bulli went within a win of the NSW State Championship title but making the Fours final at East Maitland Bowling Club was still the best result in the club’s history.
The Illawarra Zone 16 Fours champions won three games at the state championships before being beaten by NSW Champions League side Belrose 26-15 in last Sunday’s final.
All four Belrose players were part of the side that lost the final of the Grade-1 pennants to Taren Point in August, while the Bulli team played last season in Grade 2 Illawarra pennants.
The state championships feature the 16 zone winners in fours, triples, pairs and singles, among other disciplines and Bulli quickly showed they belonged in the elite company with a round-16 win over Dubbo Railway (Zone 4) 22-12 and a 24-12 victory over Zone 14’s Kempsey Heights.
The Bulli side of Bernie Harding (lead), Warren Hamilton (second), Neil Newson (third) and Jared Hamilton (skip) then knocked over one of the tournament favourites, Taren Point (Zone 13), 19-16 in Sunday morning’s semi-final before conditions changed dramatically for the final.
‘‘The final was horrible, 90km/h wind, 37 degrees. Had it been a normal club day it would have been called off, but being a state event it had to go on,’’ Harding said.
‘‘We went into the final in great form but conditions were that tough we didn’t play our best against a very good Champions League outfit like Belrose.
‘‘Everyone kept saying ‘good on Bulli taking on the biggest clubs in the state’, so we’re proud of what we achieved being the first Bulli team to make a state championship final.
‘‘It would’ve been great to go one better but it’s terrific experience for a bunch of guys who played in the Illawarra 2s [pennants] last season.’’
Illawarra Zone 16’s Triples champions Towradgi Park bowed out in the quarter-finals to favourites Taren Point, featuring reigning South Pacific singles champion John Green, Reg McCulla and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Wayne Turley.
The Towradgi team of Rod Busst, Dave Wakeling and skip Mal Lyons, representing Illawarra, beat Zone 5 champs Bathurst City 26-14 before falling to Taren Point 31-14.
Taren Point were upset by Mt Lewis’ Dylan Skinner, Gary Willis and Ben Glasson 24-19 in the Triples final.
The state championships continue today with the semi-finals in Pairs and Senior Pairs.