Illawarra's assault on the state championship did not bring a title but there were strong performances, the odd heartbreak loss and plenty of encouragement for the future.
The Bulli fours team went from playing Illawarra Grade 2 pennants just a few months ago to making the state final at East Maitland BC against Champions League-calibre opponent Belrose.
Wins over Dubbo Railway, Kempsey Heights and the upset of one of the favourites, Taren Point, in the semi-finals, saw Bulli achieve their best result at a state championship.
The combination of Bernie Harding, Neil Newson, Warren Hamilton and Warren's son, Jared, already looks a strong one for next year's Illawarra No 1 pennants with Bulli promoted to the top grade.
While Bulli were delighted with their showing, Wiseman Park's Daniel Ellem and Shane Garvey let a six shot lead slip with just two ends to play in their pairs quarter-final.
After they won four straight ends to lead 20-13 with three ends remaining, Ellem and Garvey conceded a shot on the 19th end against Wenty Leagues' Craig Maythers and Mick Harry.
The Illawarra champs led 20-14 but the match turned dramatically as Wenty Leagues picked up a six on the 20th end then booked their spot in the semi-finals with a single shot on the final end.
There was also frustration in the singles as Figtree RSL's Brett Pieper missed a chance to possibly make the final after he blew a 30-26 lead in his 31-30 quarter-final loss to West Dubbo's Josh Andriske.
Pieper beat former Australian representative Ian Taylor 31-27 in the first round and said the loss to Andriske - who lost to St Johns Park's Ben Twist in the final - will serve as motivation to get back to the state championship finals next year.
Meanwhile, former Corrimal star John Green and partner Wayne Turley added to their outstanding year by winning the pairs crown for Taren Point.
Balgownie-based Green and Turley reached the triples final earlier in the week and in the pairs beat Bernie Melville and Ray Pearse (Alexandria Erskineville) 23-12 in the final.
In the triples championship, Illawarra champions Towradgi Park bowed out in the quarter-finals to Taren Point's Green, Turley and Reg McCulla 31-14.
The Towradgi team of Rod Busst, Dave Wakeling and skip Mal Lyons won their first match against Zone 5 champs Bathurst City 26-14 before being handed a tough draw of having to faceTaren Point in round two.