Six Illawarra clubs have a representative chasing the biggest prize in club bowls with the eight-day State Championship Finals beginning at Ettalong Bowling Club on Saturday.
Wiseman Park will represent Zone 16 in the two Singles events with Scott Bateup the Open Singles champion and Brian Suckley the Senior Singles (over 60s) winner.
Warilla’s Matt Miles and Jesse Noronha are the Zone 16 Pairs champions, while the Gorillas took out the Zone Triples title in 2018 with Jesse Noronha partnering Brendan Aquilina and 15-year-old Toby Peters.
Towradgi’s Damien Lateo, Anthony Jones, Pete Bonsor and Mal Lyons won the Zone 16 Fours, and will take on the Fours champions from the other 15 NSW zones.
Woonona’s John Ritchie and Jack Forbes overcame a strong field of 41 entries to win the Zone 16 Senior Pairs, while Windang’s Phil Cable and Graham Smith head to the State Finals as Illawarra’s President’s Reserve Pairs winners.
Glen Beveridge plays for one of Illawarra’s smallest clubs, Collegians/Orb but beat a field of 90 bowlers from 15 clubs to claim the President’s Reserve Singles for Grade 5 to 7 bowlers.
Beveridge won six matches last April to claim the title and now has a crack at the state crown against the other top singles players from grades 5-7.
Having six clubs at the State Championships shows a spread of talent across Zone 16 in the open and senior ranks, plus lower grades.
Three years ago Warilla BC had five of the eight Zone 16 representative places at the State Championships, but while Warilla are back in Pairs and Triples they didn’t dominate the Zone 16 Championships as much as in recent times.
The 2018 State Championship have been scheduled a month earlier than recent years and begin on Saturday with the Round of 16 and quarter-finals in Fours and President Reserve Pairs.
Both finals are this Sunday, with next Monday and Tuesday’s play featuring the Triples and President’s Reserve Singles.
The Towradgi Fours team should fancy their chances of making the quarter-finals by beating the Zone 3 reps Wee Waa in the first round.
Phil Cable and Graham Smith take on Zone 13 champions Andy Baker-Michael Rowley (Double Bay) in the round of 16 of the President’s Reserve Pairs.
In Triples, the Warilla side have a good draw against Zone 1 representatives Casino in round one, while in the Reserve Singles, Glen Beveridge takes on Mark Walkden from Pittwater Memorial.
Next Wednesday, it’s the Round of 16 and quarter-finals in the Pairs with Matt Miles and Jesse Noronha drawn to meet Sam Owen-Jamen Lewis (North Sydney) first-up, while in the Senior Pairs, which also starts next Wednesday, Ritchie and Forbes face Narooma’s Peter Hattam and Keith Pickett.
Finally, on Friday and Saturday next week, the championships conclude with the blue-ribbon State Singles and State Senior Singles.
Scott Bateup has a tough round of 16 clash against Lee Stinson (Orange Ex-Services), while Brian Suckley meets Camden’s Bruce Turton.