Illawarra Zone 16 Grade 1 section leaders Albion Park and Warilla meet in one of the key matches of the Pennants season as competition in all seven grades returns from the Easter break on Saturday.
Albion Park had their unbeaten season in the top grade ended by Towradgi in round three though the Eagles won two of the three rinks, with Towradgi's 55-52 overall victory enough to claim an 8-2 win.
Warren Turner and Brett Pieper skipped the Park to narrow wins over Robbie Warren and Shane Garvey respectively, with Shane Pascoe's 10-shot rink win over Corey Thompson the difference in a tight struggle across the 63 ends.
Turner and partners Brett O'Leary (lead), Vinny Ong (second) and Aaron Spears (third) claimed a one-shot win over Garvey's rink to make it three consecutive victories to start the 2021 Pennants season.
The in-form Eagles rink now face their toughest test against the best side in Zone 16 Pennants with Warilla boasting three international skips in Aaron Teys, Corey Wedlock and Gary Kelly.
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Albion Park have home green advantage for the round-five clash but will start underdogs against a Gorillas team which will surely not only book a spot at the State Pennant Finals but challenge for the prized Grade 1 flag.
This season the Illawarra Grade 1 Pennant competition is playing as Southern Conference in NSW Bowls with eight teams split into two sections and the section winner earning direct passage to the State Finals.
The section winners also meet to decide the Zone 16 Grade 1 Pennant flag for 2021, while the section runners-up face off for the third State Finals place on offer in Southern Conference.
Warilla showed at the recent 2020 State Championships it has the firepower to beat anyone after claiming the State Pairs, Triples and Fours crown and two-time state champion Corey Wedlock going within a whisker of winning the Open Singles and handing the Gorillas an Open State title clean-sweep.
Warilla beat their sectional arch-rival Towradgi in the opening round this season and while the two Zone heavyweights meet again, Towradgi would need to win all their remaining games to have any chance of toppling the Gorillas as Section 2 champions.
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A more likely scenario is Warilla winning Section 2 to seal a spot at the State Finals plus playing off for the Zone Grade 1 flag, with Towradgi, Figtree Sports and Woonona all challenging to be runners-up and in contention for the remaining State Finals spot.
All clubs through the seven grades have enjoyed a break for Easter and are gearing up for a busy period with the washout of round three last month ensuring a Pennants double-header weekend on April 17-18.
The priority for all Grade 1 clubs is this Saturday's cross-sectional round.
Albion Park hosting Warilla is the headline clash of the section leaders, while it is crunch time for struggling Section 1 side Dapto Citizens who host Figtree Sports from Section 2.
Dapto Citizens have won just one of their first three games and are coming off a 60-51 (9-1) loss to Woonona, with only Michael Stead's rink managing a win.
Figtree can keep their hopes of finishing runners-up in Section 2 alive with a win, but they'll need to play better than the display in a 66-58 (9-1) loss to Kiama in round four.
For Kiama it was their second victory of the season and if they can upset Towradgi at home this Saturday and Albion Park lose to Warilla, then Kiama will leapfrog into top spot in Section 1 approaching the midway point in the season.
Elswehere, Corrimal will host Woonona.
Team Roberts get chocolates
Husband and wife Fairy Meadow members Dave and Thelma Roberts were the best of three unbeaten teams in winning the club's Easter Open Pairs tournament.
The Grade 2 Pennant bowlers won all three games and had the best differential of +33 to clinch the top prize of $400.
Fairy Meadow teams made up 11 of the 14 entries and took home second ($200) and third ($100) with father and daughter Rob and Ang Kerr runners-up on three wins (+22) and Dale Chin and Derek Jackson third with three wins (+19).
Dave and Thelma Roberts have won a number of Mixed Pairs and some Open events as regular tournament partners over the years and bowled well in their club's annual Easter event.
''We started off with a good win and were able to play well in the other two games which were tighter matches,'' Dave said.
The Easter Open Pairs format was 4-Bowl Pairs, with each team playing three games of 13 ends.
It is a busy period in Club Championships at Fairy Meadow with Laurie Matrini and Wayne Nanasi already booked for the Open Pairs final. In Open Fours, father and son Wayne and Daniel Nanasi, plus Les Smith and Steve McPherson will take on Laurie Matrini, John Sutherland, Guye McPherson and Thomas Webb for the title.
Hayman claims national crown
Fairy Meadow junior Dawn Hayman has extended her winning run to the national stage with a history-making triumph in the 2020 Australian Champion of Champion Singles at Dandenong.
Hayman became the first female bowler to win back-to-back Australian Champion Singles titles after defending her 2019 title at the 2020 championships which were cancelled last year due to coronavirus.
The Australian Champion Singles featured the winner of the Champion of Club Champion Singles from each state and territory with six round-robin matches over two days.
Hayman had sealed the title heading into the final-round clash against silver medallist and fellow Jackaroo Carl Krizanic; storming home on a 10-0 run to win 21-12.
Warilla's Corey Wedlock finished runner-up in the men's event, winning five of his six matches and was only denied the gold medal on shot differential to the Northern Territory's Trystan Smallacombe.
NSW champion Wedlock suffered his only defeat against Smallacombe 21-14 and finished on +29 differential with Smallacombe on +34.
Hayman had six wins with a +73 margin; one win clear of Victorian champ Krizanic (5wins+44).
Hayman recently won the NSW State Singles and confirmed she was in great touch against some of the best bowlers in Australia.
I was confident in the way I was playingso to go through undefeated is a huge honour, she said.
Dandenong Club will be back on the national stage when it hosts the 2020 Australian Championships on May 24-28 in another event held over from last year.