Illawarra won their section convincingly but found Newcastle-based Zone 2 too strong in the semi-finals of the Senior Inter-Zone Championship at Lake Conjola Bowling Club.
Sydney North West (Zone 10), based at Parramatta, made it back-to-back State Over-60s titles by beating Newcastle two rinks to one, 71-53, in the final at Milton Ulladulla Bowling Club.
The three-day championship, co-hosted by Lake Conjola and Milton-Ulladulla bowling clubs, featured the top senior players from the 16 zones in the state.
Illawarra were impressive in their three sectional wins, finishing with a +37 shot differential, the second best pool margin behind Zone 6's Hunter-Manning (+75).
Illawarra Zone 16 posted a 56-49 win over Sydney Northern (Zone 9) in round one then beat Central Coast (Zone 15) 71-48 in round two and confirmed their place in the semi-finals with a 64-57 win over Sydney South West (Zone 12) in round three.
Illawarra won six of the nine rinks in their three sectional matches, losing one rink in each match.
Towradgi-based skip Brian Harriott and partners Mick Weir, Mick Duprez and Ted Clarke won all three games to finish with a +33 differential from their three games.
But the excellent form of Harriott and partners deserted them in the semi-finals, beaten 24-12 by Newcastle's Howard Smith.
Geoff McGillivray and partners lost 22-14 to Michael Beesley, while John Ferguson's rink had a 25-18 win over Kevin Robinson.
Newcastle started the semi-final the better and led 43-29 after 37 ends and 51-41 on 47 ends.
Illawarra made a late fightback to close within five shots but Newcastle held firm for the win.
Sydney North West advanced to the final with a 57-55 win over in-form Hunter Manning then beat Newcastle in the final 71-53.
Trevor Imer was outstanding in the final for Sydney North West with a 35-14 win over Howard Smith.
Illawarra should be pleased to have played well in their sectional matches but were disappointed not to get a crack at Sydney North West in the final.
It was Illawarra's fourth semi-final or better placing in the last six years.
Zone 16 won the championship in 2009 and 2010 and made the final in 2012.
Hunter Manning won in 2011, Sydney Central were champions in 2012 and reigning champs Sydney North West won in 2013.
The championship featured the likes of Australia's most capped player Rex Johnston, plus former internationals Kevin Robinson (New Zealand) and South African Neil Burnett, who were part of the winning Sydney North West team.
Former NSW players including Warilla's Geoff McGillivray, Crawford Linton, Reg McCulla, John Roberts and Dennis Harmer also took part in the titles.
Club rivalries put aside
Many of Illawarra’s best bowlers including Shane Garvey and Jeremy Henry will put club rivalries aside on Sunday to support the Neonatal Unit at Wollongong Hospital with a bowls day at Kembla Heights Bowling Club.
Kembla Heights are running an inaugural fours event to raise funds for the neonatal unit which provides the best care to mothers and their newborn babies.
Around 60 players from different clubs, including Warilla and Wiseman Park, will come together for a day of bowls.
Kembla Heights BC have only 42 bowling members yet, for the first time in 52 years, qualified for the Illawarra pennants play-offs this season, with their Grade 6 team a semi-finalist.
The club’s last pennant title was in the 1960-61 season but just making the play-offs relived the glory days for long-term members.
Zone selection rewards form
Illawarra selectors have rewarded the top teams in pennants this season with the complete 17-man squad for an Inter-Zone series in July made up of players from the top four playoff clubs.
Illawarra Grade 1 champions Warilla and grand finalists Dapto Citizens dominate the squad with six players each to take on Zones 2, 3 and 9 at Raymond Terrace BC on July 5-7.
Among the new names in the squad are Dapto Citizens’ Ian Bailey, Wiseman Park’s Steve Haines and Towradgi Park’s Wes Falconer.
Warilla’s Geoff McGillivray has been rewarded for another terrific season with a spot in the squad after also representing the Illawarra Seniors (over60s) team at the NSW Senior Championships last week.
Joining the six Warilla and six Citos bowlers are three Wiseman Park players led by former Jackeroos squad member Shane Garvey.
Falconer and his Towradgi clubmate Mal Lyons – a replacement for Dylan Skinner – are the only players not from the ‘‘Big Three’’ of Illawarra bowls.
The Illawarra squad in playing order is: Jamie Mitchell (lead, Warilla), Steve Haines (Wiseman Park), Mal Lyons (Towradgi), Shane Garvey (skip, Wiseman Park); Wes Falconer (lead, Towradgi), Ian Bailey (Dapto Citizens), Zoran Bosev (Dapto Citizens), Jeremy Henry (skip, Warilla); Wayne Crane (lead, Warilla), Jesse Noronha (Warilla), Geoff McGillivray (Warilla), Aaron Teys (skip, Warilla); Chris Green (lead, Dapto Citizens), John Hills (Dapto Citizen), Steve Green (Dapto Citizens), Robbie Warren (skip, Wiseman Park). Reserve: Peter McCauley (Dapto Citizens).