Lawn Bowls

The Manning 1 Blue South Crew are tantalisingly close to glory

Things were seemingly going too well for the Manning 1 Blue South team with just 4 games to go in this current Metro WA pennant season, as we opened up a 12-point lead over the chasing pack led by Leeming & Kardinya thanks to our last gap win against South Perth in ‘The Windsor’ game…

Then in the last game of February before the Country Week bye, the up-and-coming Forrestfield (Down in 7th due to losing a couple of close aggregates), who hadn’t won an away aggregate all season, came to Challenger Avenue and gave us a nice old ball tearing (Or should I say bowl tearing), winning 89-71 with 7 points, and we only snuck in a point as our No.1 rink (led by Wayne Heldt and featuring yours truly) smashed in a 4 and a 5 on the last 2 ends to win 24-20 after being 9-19 down with 8 ends to play.

So thanks to our first aggregate defeat since mid-November, our lead was slashed down to 6 points thanks to Leeming and Kardy’s wins at home, but all three teams would be on the road in Round 16, with our game being a tough old trip to 9th-placed Safety Bay to begin the final 3-game stretch of the season, and even though Safety Bay have already had their relegation confirmed, they are still a 1 Blue team for another few weeks and should be given that respect, and playing close to Penguin Island is never easy due to the ever-changing sea breeze, especially late in the afternoon when it gets up to a 30-40 km/h gust and the greens turn into a Concorde runway.

So, to cut a long story short, despite getting locked in a huge arm-wrestle with a team that played much better than their ladder position indicates, we got the result we needed, winning the aggregate 81-73 (BowlsLink is bullcrap claiming it was 78-74, and I have proof) to earn a huge 7 points:

– The No.1 rink led by Heldty, which had undergone a hugely controversial swap with Steve Lambert being sent over to Murray Piggott’s rink and Matty Hoskin being sent over to ours, won an enormous arm wrestle 17-16 in a game that had more violent momentum swings than a faulty rollercoaster.

– Mike Carey’s rink (Macca, Ron Ker and Greg Hogg) were the biggest winners 27-17, having led 13-2 early on before they were pegged back to 18-17, only to win the last 4 ends to tack on some valuable shots and anchor the aggregate win.

– Allan Taylor’s rink (Floppy Herbert, Brett & Shane Adams) killed Safety Bay with consistency as they came back from 8-13 down to win 24-18, a big result as that rink has proven the toughest to get a settled team of four all season long.

– The only blemish was Murray Piggott’s rink (Jaxon, Steve and Gobby) losing 13-22, enduring a frustrating second half of the game in which they got second shot on 6 ends.

So unfortunately for Steve, the worst part of this swap is that he’s now lost his position at No.1 on the Player Ladder in 1 Blue South, which now belongs to Heldty.

As for the games, it was an extremely close aggregate all day, so much so that across the board after 72 out of 84 ends, it was dead level at 66 apiece, but a number of things went our way in the closing stages:

– Matt Hoskin delivered a deadset bomb on our rink to set up a 3 on the 19th End to tie the scores at 15, then on the 20th End, Heldty trailed the jack for 2 with his last bowl when we were 3 down, and he cut out 2 shots with an upshot on the last end when we were down game, to keep Safety Bay to 1 shot and seal the point.

– Amidst their superb finish, Mike Carey’s rink held a huge 5 on the 20th End, which was pretty much a dagger in the heart of Safety Bay, and a 2 on the last end helped push the agg lead out past 8 when we went down to our last end.

That was a huge result on our end, because there was every chance we could go a game clear on top if we won, and that’s exactly how it played out, as Leeming and Kardinya were both well beaten on the road:

Leeming’s tough away trip to Forrestfield proved to be everything that everyone expected, as those confident young whippersnappers from Forrestfield won that aggregate 91-84 with 7 points, which is Leeming’s 5th defeat in 8 games since the New Year, amazing considering they were 9 points clear on top after Round 9.

In a similar manner, Kardinya were well beaten 89-62 at Fremantle to pick up just 1 point, which can be attributed to Kardy being taken off the undercover Synthetic and not handling that beautiful green down by the harbourside, and Fremantle this season have been the proverbial box of chocolates.

Which means Manning are now clear by 10.5 points instead of 12, because Victoria Park-Carlisle, who smashed Hilton Park 8-0 (101-53), jumped from 5th up to 2nd, with 2nd, 3rd and 4th now split by just 1.5 points, and to make it more interesting, Vic Park and Kardinya playing each other in Round 17 at Vic Park, and Leeming will play Safety Bay at Leeming, which means someone’s going to be pushing crap uphill in the Challenge Final race when we get to Round 18.

That ladder should also tell you how brutal Division 1 Blue South is right now, there’s only 9.5 points between 2nd and 8th, and only 4 points between 3rd and 7th – That’s the difference between playing for a crack at challenging for a spot in 1 White, versus playing to keep your spot in 1 Blue, full stop.

Now, the equation is simple on our end.

With a 10.5 point lead and 16 points still available, ‘we’ now require just 6 points from our last 2 games to confirm top spot (Promotion to 1 White and a shot at the 1 Blue Pennant), which can be achieved this Saturday as we play bottom-placed Hilton Park in our last home game, meaning we COULD then go to Kardinya in Round 18 with nothing to worry about, because that joint is close enough to our own personal Mordor.

Heads down, arses up, there’s still 5 days to go, but deadset, I want to play it right now.

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