Warilla are poised to claim a record sixth straight Grade 1 pennant crown, while Dapto Citizens and Towradgi meet in Saturday’sfinal round to decide the last playoff spot in the Southern Conference.
Warilla were without their Jackaroos stars Aaron Teys and Jesse Noronha but still had too much firepower for Oak Flats in a 76-47 (10-0) victory in round nine.
The Gorillas’ only defeat was on the opening day against Wiseman Park and they lead Wiseman Park by five points heading into the final round.
A Warilla victory over Albion Park would seal a sixth straight Grade 1 flag for the Gorillas and eclipse Corrimal’s run of five straight titles from 1978-1982.
Meanwhile, Wiseman Park and third-placed Merimbula defeated Albion Park and Figgy Bowlo respectively in round nine to wrap up a top four playoff spot with a round to spare.
Wiseman Park posted a 75-55 (10-0) victory over the Park, with Scott Bateup beating Brett Pieper 28-19; Robbie Warren edging past Cory Thompson 20-19 and Shane Garvey beating Aaron Spears 27-17.
Merimbula were given a tough fight at home by Figtree before winning 76-59 (8.5-1.5) with each club winning a rink and one rink drawn.
Fourth-placed Towradgi Park and Dapto Citizens (fifth) had vital wins and will meet in the final round at Citos to decide the last spot in the round-robin playoffs.
Towradgi won three tight rinks against Woonona in a precious 65-55 (10-0) victory.
Two rinks were decided by just a shot with David Wakeling beating Jack Forbes 21-20 and Pete Bonsor edging past Steve Haines 21-20. Mal Lyons completed a Towradgi sweep with a 23-15 win over Jared Hamilton.
Dapto Citizens also won all three rinks in a 76-54 (10-0) win over Kiama. Michael Stead and partners beat Martin Wilson 28-19; Matt Miles defeated Dean Aitken 22-16 and Dylan Skinner beat Russell Campbell 26-19.
The Southern Conference qualifying format for the State Grade 1 Finals involves a four-team round-robin series at Warilla BC on July 21 and July 22.
The playoff winner earns direct entry to the State Finals, while the runner-up has a second chance of making the Finals against Dubbo Railway.
The top four finishing order in the 11-team Southern Conference has no bearing on the playoffs with the season now down to winning the round-robin series or finishing second and then defeating Dubbo Railway.
Meanwhile, at the foot of the Southern Conference table, last-placed Oak Flats trail Corrimal by seven points heading into the final round, with Oak Flats away to Figgy and Corrimal to visit Wiseman Park.
In other games, Warilla welcome Albion Park and Woonona host Merimbula. Kiama have the bye and can finish anywhere from sixth to ninth.
Finally, in Zone 16 pennants, it’s the final round in most lower grades this weekend with the semi-finals and grand finals on July 21 and July 22.
The grand final winners in grades 2-7 will represent Zone 16 in the State Finals across NSW on August 17-19. Warilla BC and Kiama BC are co-hosting the Grade 5 Finals.
Grade 1 ladder: Warilla 73, Wiseman Park 68, Merimbula 64.5, Towradgi 58.5, Dapto Citizens 56.5, Kiama 42.5, Woonona 37, Albion Park 36.5, Figgy Bowlo 34.5, Corrimal 18, Oak Flats 11.