While the uncertainty of COVID is a huge concern for all clubs, Kiama BC is preparing for a massive program which includes co-hosting the NSW Pennants Finals, chasing their first state flag in more than 50 years, plus some big contests in their Club Championships.
Kiama is outside the NSW government COVID lockdown red zone but has still been hard hit, with many of its bowlers based within the Shellharbour, under stay-at-home orders.
Kiama operations manager Adam Rodgers says his club is primed to showcase its excellent facilities as co-hosts with Warilla Bowls for the State Grade 7 Pennant Finals on September 10-12.
It will be the third year Kiama has partnered Warilla as a State Finals host after being involved in Grade 5 Finals in 2018 and Grade 6 in 2019, while the Pennants season was effectively abandoned last year due to the pandemic.
''We've proudly hosted some of the biggest local and state events in recent years including being headquarters for the South Pacific Carnival, plus State Champion of Champion events and several Zone 16 championships,'' Rodgers said.
Kiama BC is also among the hosts for the Zone Championship Triples and is headquarters for the Seniors over-60s competition.
Meanwhile, Kiama is not just scheduled to be a host venue for September's State Pennants Finals but also a participant with its Zone 16-winning Grade 3 team to travel to Toongabbie BC for a shot at the state flag.
With no Pennants in 2020, Kiama won won the Grade 7 Pennant in 2019.
This year's Grade 3 side produced a comeback 66-52 triumph over Warilla in the Zone decider, with Tim Rossiter and Tom Hodgson skipping their rinks to convincing wins.
Kiama will take on Cabra-Vale Diggers, Ettalong and Gunnedah in their section at the 2021 State Finals in September, with the club chasing an elusive second state flag after their maiden crown also came in Grade 3 in 1968.
And once COVID restrictions are eased, Kiama will soon schedule its Club Championship finals in Triples and Major Pairs.
In the Triples, Murray Sheather, Tony Piana and Nev Norris meet Jason Mathers, Cameron Baker and Chris Pearce in the final while in Major Pairs, husband and wife Murray and Mary Sheather face Adam Rodgers and Steve Wills for the club title.
For Murray Sheather it will be his second club final for 2021, while he will also be part of the Grade 3 side chasing State Pennants glory.
In other club news, Kiama's 2021 Major Singles has commenced with defending champion Steve Wills to meet Andrew Anstey in the next round, while last year's finalist Murray Sheather meets Mick Pepper.
Five-time Club Singles champion Geoff McIntyre had a tough 31-25 first-round win over Adam Schofield.
State showdown cancelled
Illawarra, state and national events continue to be devastated by the ongoing COVID outbreak with a number of top events either cancelled or postponed.
Bowls NSW were quick to respond to last week's extension of the pandemic lockdown which includes Wollongong and Shellharbour LGAs, by cancelling the NSW versus Victoria Open and Under-25s Test Series at Figtree Sports on August 13-14.
The cancellation is a blow for local bowls fans who would have enjoyed having the elite bowlers and emerging stars from Australia's two biggest states playing in our region. It's been several years since the last interstate match in the Illawarra (at Wiseman Park BC) and hopefully Figtree Sports will get to show off their magnificent new deck and fine greens for big-time bowls in the near future.
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Bowls NSW also advised that the qualifying rounds for the state Over-40s Pairs event set for this weekend at Figtree Sports and St Georges Basin Country Club has been postponed.
With the State Finals not until October 9-10 at Club Maitland City and Lorn Park BC, Bowls NSW has some options to reschedule the qualifying rounds, though the state calendar is very tight due to the COVID lockdown extension and uncertainly regarding the future.
Redraw for Zone Triples event
Zone 16 officials will conduct a redraw for the Zone Triples Championships following complications due to eligibility criteria and COVID-19.
The eligibility issues relate to the Grade 5-7 President Reserve Triples and, given the lengthy delay over a start date for the Triples championships, Zone 16 has elected for a redraw of the Open and Reserve events.
The Zone Triples will start the first Saturday after the NSW government lifts its lockdown restrictions, in place until at least Friday week, July 30.
In other news, Illawarra bowlers Steve Sprod, Corey Wedlock and Shane Pascoe will have to wait until early December to compete in the Australian Indoor Singles at Tweed Heads BC.
The trio, with Ben Twist earned their spots in the main draw by winning their qualification rounds at Warilla. Bowls Australia says almost a third of the field reside in COVID hotspots and are presently unable to travel to Queensland, leaving no option but to delay the event until December 6-9.