Thrills and spills at Pennant Finals
It’s been a rollercoaster day on the Gold Coast, with Queensland’s top club sides going head-to-head for State Pennant glory. There were ups and downs, nail-biters and annihilations, but when the dust settled on Day 1 of the 2014 Queensland State Pennant Finals, there was an obvious shortage of upsets at Tweed Heads Bowls Club.
There’s no such thing as an easy win at State Pennant Finals!
With the cream of Queensland’s club sides in action, every point is hard fought and every win a welcome relief.
But there’s no denying the calibre of two of this year’s contenders, and with one round of sectional play to go, many are already predicting the line-up for tomorrow’s men’s title match.
Wynnum Manly vs. South Tweed?
Playing in the home paddock, if not exactly on home turf, and boasting a bucket-load of state over-60 reps who earned their stripes long before they reached the seniors, not to mention international superstar Kelvin Kerkow OAM, South Tweed were always favoured to go far at this year’s finals.
And so far they’ve lived up to their fearsome reputation, rolling Souths Suburban (Mackay) and defending champs North Toowoomba on the opening day of play.
Suburban took a particularly hard knock at the hands of these local legends, going down 66-37.
While the Sharks got up on all three rinks, it was Nev Jenkins’ outfit of Alan Fawcett, Rod Heaton and Geoff Hawken that did the real damage, racing out to a 28-9 win over Alan Howard’s crew.
(Jenkins won Queensland Men’s Player of the Series at the recent Australian Senior Sides Championships, played at Tweed Heads.)
The Sharks had another clean sweep in round two, beating the Bushrangers on all three rinks, albeit by a much smaller margin, 61-50.
The win sees South Tweed go into tomorrow’s Round 3 clash with Bargara undefeated, and with the Bundy boys yet to win a match, the Sharks will be confident of securing their spot in the final.
Once there, it’s looking extremely likely they’ll face Wynnum Manly, who have also come through Day 1 unscathed.
A Round 1 beat-up of Edge Hill (Cairns), 70-49, gave the Seagulls plenty of confidence heading into this afternoon’s Clash of the Titans against 2012 State Pennant winners Mooloolaba, where they were very pleased to see a plan come together, edging out the Sunshine Coast boys by just six shots, 60-54.
Not that Wynnum needed a confidence-booster, with big guns like Bill Cornehls, Kerry Flint, Jamie Nordlof and Brendon Egan in their ranks, the Gulls were always confident they’d go far, but Mooloolaba was the one they wanted to win.
For Mooloolaba, the loss was a bitter pill, coming on the back of a nail-biting win over Bribie Island in Round 1.
Tied at 52-all, with just two bowls to play and Bribie holding shot, Mooloolaba skip Paul Hendricks drew a beauty to pick up three and clinch the match for the Sunny Coast boys, 55-52.
In a mirror image of Section 2, an upset win in tomorrow’s Round 3 match between the Seagulls and Bribie Island will throw a lifeline to the winner of Mooloolaba’s clash with Edge Hill.
Unlike the men’s results, which were pretty straight forward, there was at least one minor upset in the women’s competition, with Yeppoon taking down 2012 runner-up West Toowoomba in Round 1, 57-48.
While Yeppoon are no strangers to State Pennant finals, having reached the play-offs in 2008 and 2010, West Toowoomba were widely tipped as a dark horse for this year’s title, following near misses in recent years.
Unfortunately Yeppoon couldn’t keep the dream alive, it was their turn to feel the pain in their Round 2 clash against red-hot favourites Club Helensvale, 71-31.
It was Helensvale’s second win of the day, following a hard-fought victory over Cleveland in the morning 65-53.
As the only undefeated team in Section 1, a final berth looks all but assured for Helensvale.
But if West Toowoomba can find form tomorrow, experience may beat youth, and they may well bring the high-flying Hawks back to earth with a bump.
Mind you, with such a massive margin (4+47), it will take an extraordinary win from either Yeppoon (2-26) or Cleveland (2-10) to catch the Gold Coast outfit.
Section 2 looks equally clear-cut, with Kawana Thunder on track for a clash-of-the-coasts final.
Wins over Bramble Bay 73-48 and Townsville Suburban 77-35, see the Thunder head into Day 2 with an almost unassailable lead of 4+67.
With one win in the bag (a four-shot victory over Bramble Bay’s Vikings 68-64), the girls from Souths Suburban Mackay are the only side in with a shot of catching Kawana.
However, with Souths Suburban finishing Day 1 on 2-6, it would take the mother of all victories for the Mackay girls to reach the final.
And when you consider their Round 3 opponent is Kawana, you’d have to guess the Suburban girls will be lucky just to weather the storm.
Round 3 action gets underway at 8am and will be followed by the final at Tweed Heads Bowls Club, 12.30pm.
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