Zone 16’s talented Rookies Singles and Pairs winners face the champions from across NSW in the State Rookies Finals at Raymond Terrace Bowling Club this weekend.
The State Finals gives the 16 Zone champions the opportunity to win their first state title, which is a massive prize for bowlers who all have less than 30 months in the sport.
Last month, Dapto Citizens’ Richard Dowse and his Towradgi Park teammate Mark Lowry beat 12 other teams in a hugely competitive Zone 16 Rookies Pairs championship at Bomaderry BC.
Figgy Bowlo’s Garry Webster was among 26 players in the Illawarra Rookies Singles draw and won five matches over two days to claim the Rookies Singles at Windang BC.
No Zone 16 champion has made the State Rookies Singles final and Webster wants to be the first.
“That’s my goal, to get to the final,’’ Webster said.
“I’d like to win it, but it’d be great to be the first player from down here to make the final.’’
Webster took up bowls at age 53 after being a late starter to cricket at 46, and also wants to climb the pennant grades after playing Grade 5 with Figgy Bowlo in 2018.
“My cricket mates kept saying ‘come and play bowls’ and I took it up a little over two years ago. I want to play at a high level and keep improving my game.’’
The State Rookies Finals begin on Saturday (NOV 10) with the Pairs sectional rounds followed by the semi-finals and final.
The Singles on Sunday (NOV 11) follows the same format with the overall champion likely to need to win three sectional games, plus two more wins to take the title.
It will be a test of skill, plus stamina and concentration to win five matches in one day.
Dowse-Lowry clinched their place at the State Finals with a 15-8 victory over Windang’s Paul Nesbitt and Collies-Orb’s Greg Wray in the Zone 16 final last month.
Wray was a standout in both Illawarra Rookies events, after also making the final in the Singles.
In the Pairs tournament, Dowse and Lowry had a 14-4 win over Thirroul’s Wayne Malone and John Brown, and then beat Windang duo Terry McKay and Philip Miller 14-9 to win their section before advancing to the decider with a thrilling 12-11 victory against Windang clubmates Matthew Grogan and Ross Vincent.
Dowse and Lowry are looking to continue the good run of Illawarra Pairs combinations at the State Rookies Finals with Corrimal’s Aydan Murphy and Tim Cavanough making the decider 12 months ago, while in 2014 the Berkeley-Warilla duo of Neal Teasdale and Andrew Ransom won the title.
In the 10 years of the Singles event, 10 different clubs have won the crown, while Nelson Bay won the opening two State Rookies Pairs titles, with a different winning club each year since 2011.
The 2018 State Rookies champions are not eligible to defend their title, but everyone else can compete in the event for up to two years if they remain within the 30 months of becoming a registered bowler.
The NSW Rookies events have grown in popularity since being launched in 2009 and allow a bowler, irrespective of their experience, a chance to win a zone and state title in the same year.