The clock is ticking, but there are no alarm bells ringing just yet. Tailem Bend’s last couple of outings are the talk of the town; the side has now won six straight and eight out of the past nine.
This stability has set the side up in top position, 22 points with a healthy percentage ahead of Bridge Blue a point in front of Jervois with the same margin to Karoonda making up the four.
The bye will no doubt play a role with Jervois and RSL to compete in five more fixtures while the rest have four to go, over the journey however it will work out evenly.
Bridge White v Karoonda: This is a massive challenge for White to ride out and make something out of their beleaguered season. Even so, if they can get on top of their opponents, the door might swing ever so slightly ajar for a squint at fifth position. But, there are a lot of ifs and buts connected to that situation.
Karoonda is coming off two inspiring wins that will excite the players enough to focus strongly on second position as Bridge Blue have the bye. White skippers are a classy trio, Bruce Attrill, Ted Baxter and Ian Oats will, however, need to have their team mates right on target to compete with the red hot Karoonda teams skippered by Josh Porker, Ian Symonds and Rowan Zadow On form it points towards a 11-20 win for Karoonda.
Jervois v Tailem Bend: This is another contest that holds incredible importance, both are on a mission with no thoughts of a backward step. The Jervois players know they have extra points on points available in the run home but it is also obvious that a loss will cancel all that out.
On the other side, Tailem are holding top position will still need all the points they can gather in what will be a pulsating last few rounds. The desperate urgency of points will make this gala event a classic that I am tipping Tailem’s Duane Edwards, Travis Schenke and Sam Shepherd’s line up will just nudge out that of Graeme Herbert, David Kempe and Rodger Zarantonello in a thrilling finish by 1-10 shots.
Mannum v RSL: Mannum will only compete in four more games and and even a massive turn around in results won’t help their cause. RSL is better positioned on the ladder with an extra outing to play with, but a loss in this showdown will muffle their chances badly. The master of the shillelagh, Noel Kneebone has done a credible undertaking with the club, but for the next month all social activities must be on the back burner. In the wash-up critics will only rate the club on where you finish the pennant season on the green, anything else doesn’t count.
Although bottom, Mannum has claimed a couple of morale lifting wins recently and I am sure skippers Martyn March, Peter Wegener and Terry McDonnell will agree they have a definite chance to get through.Even so I believe RSL have been doing enough on the green to wrinkle success by 1-10.
RSL holds pride of place in this competition 12 points ahead of Jervois Red, after that only six points separates second from fifth, Mannum, Meningie, and Bridge Red.
Bridge Green v Meningie: Greens are low on the ladder but cannot be completely discarded, skippers Don Harper, David White and Kurt Weinmann have potential players in the side and if they put it all together can be right up to this encounter.
Meningie with second spot on the radar will be pressing for full points, with a full complement of players at their disposal Ash Hunt, Brian Bagshaw and Trevor Mitchell as the skippers. I believe Meningie will win it by 11-20.
Jervois Red v Karoonda: Jervois Red in second place is a good bit ahead of Karoonda on the table ratings but in the game of bowls there is no such thing as a certainty, minor premiership is still the first leg of the double and that is what Reds will be searching for. It’s not a foregone conclusion by any means but Chester Moore, Kevin Spinks and Derek Vanderzon could have just a bit more ammunition for the Karoonda teams of Val Hermann, Richard Humphys and Barry Manuel.
Tailem Bend v Bridge Red: There is quite a gap between these two on the ladder, Red are second while Tailem is in sixth. But I do think Tailem are now putting it together and can handle Red’s “Dads Army” and cause an extreme upset that will shake the club no end. No matter what, this will be a superb game of bowls with the youth of Tailem playing a major role in the result. Red skippers Bill Leggatt, Tom Griffiths and Leo Liebelt will show for a while but in the end it will be the Tailem teams with Ian Shepherd, Peter Connolly and Scott Dinham in charge over the line by 11-20 shots.
RSL v Mannum: This will be a cracker a Jack game between two highly credentialed competitors. RSL is top with Mannum third and right in the firing line to make a strong statement. Mannum crashed last start which has no doubt left Jerry Pannell, Ian Windebank and the irrepressible Tommy Towns scratching their heads about the considerable loss at a bad time. Now they come up against a confident side that has fought off all challengers for the prized top position. Apart from one misjudged selection move, Perrin Kuchel, Allan Wooldridge and Allan Arbon have been the skippers with great success, and I feel that at home will carry that into this much anticipated match with a winning margin of 1-10 shots.
This is shaping up to be a fierce race to the finals. Mannum Gold is top but the gap between top and fourth is only 13 points. Mannum Gold is top three points in front of Jervois, then comes Meningie five points away with a further five points to Mannum Green. The bottom half of the table are capable of winning their share but won’t make the cut.
Murray Bridge v Meningie: Meningie in third spot with Robert Warnes and Glen Andrews at the helm come up fairly strong and came up with a full point win last time out. Murray Bridge is no doing so well and Denise Menzies and Jeff Tonkin could find the going tough with their team, they could make but it looks like Meningie by 11-20 shots.
Mannum Green v Karoonda
Green are sitting fourth but no doubt eyeing off a few rungs higher to get up near their Gold colour. That would be the aim for Peter McAvaney and Trevor Frahn but first they have to get past Robin Burdett and David Schulz who did win a couple of games back. Greens are going for five wins straight and should add to that by 11-20 shots.
Jervois v RSL: RSL is just below the middle of the field, even so the side is coming off two good wins which will set Graham Wilmshurst and Peter Tuxford up with confidence for this meeting with Jervois teams skippered by John Atkins and Greg Miller who got the wobbles at their last attempt. With Jervois in second place there is quite a bit of space between the sides, but I am going for RSL to make a hat trick by 1-10.
Tailem Bend v Mannum Gold: Tailem has figured in a few close ones but John Brook and Steve Richards will find it hard to match the strength of top-placed Gold’s skippered by Bob Hughes and Beryl Brandle who are searching for four wins straight. The match at the Eagle’s Nest but on the ratings it look likes Gold will clipping the wings by 11-20 shots.
Monday Open Triples
This social event is under way played at different association venues. RSL and Murray Bridge clubs have hosted already, proving popular. Clubs and anyone interested in a social twilight game of bowls can still enter teams for upcoming nights play. 7pm start, 16 ends played with play stopped at 9.30pm. Entry fee is $10 per player with a variety of nightly prizes and a sausage sizzle. Bowls for learners available at clubs on the night.
Nominations: February 4 – Karoonda ( Ian Symonds 0478 671 612); February 11 – Tailem Bend (Peter Connolly 0423 312 916) Jervois February 18 (Dennis Hicks 0408 826 068) – Murray Bridge February 25 ( Bill Edson 0438 697 232); RSL To be advised (Ian Kluge (0427 313 537). Manager: Neville Gotch 0419 867 213.