A change to pennant grade

ZONE 11 bowls secretary Bruce Elliott said a reluctance to take on the powerful Tuncurry Beach club was the reason Hastings-based clubs sought a change to this year’s No 1 pennant competition.

Under the new format the three Zone 11 (formerly Manning) No 1 teams –Tuncurry Beach, Forster and Taree West, will combine with No 2 grade clubs Tuncurry Beach (2), Forster (2) to form one competition.

Last year there was a separate No 1 competition involving the three Zone 11 clubs along with three Hastings-based clubs.

Tuncurry Beach defeated Westport in the final to earn a place in the State playoffs.

However, this year the Hastings contingent will be grouped with those from the Macleay/Coffs Harbour area.

The No 1 grade is controlled by the State match committee. Mr Elliott understands the Hastings clubs asked to play in the northern competition. He believes this is because they didn’t want to meet the perennially formidable Tuncurry Beach.

“I’ve heard they said travel was an issue – it’s apparently too far to travel an hour down the highway,’’ he said.

“So now they’ll be going to Coffs Harbour instead. But the State match has listened to them and the format has been changed.’’

However, Mr Elliott added there’s been a further alteration to the competition structure and he believes this is unlikely to please the Hastings clubs.

“The winner from our section will play the winner from our immediate north to determine who goes through to State,’’ he explained.

“So if one of the Hastings clubs wins their section, they’re still not guaranteed a place at State. They’ll have to beat the winning club from our zone, whether it be Tuncurry Beach, Forster or Taree West.’’

Mr Elliott said he is ‘disappointed’ at the State match committee’s decision to change the format. While he agreed there were some hiccups last year, he said generally the competition worked well.

“But it’s out of our hands,’’ he added.

“The State match runs the No 1 grade, not us.’’

He agreed the combined No 1 and 2 grade competition is far from ideal, particularly with Forster and Tuncurry Beach providing four of the six sides.

The leading No 2 side on the pointscore at the completion of the season-proper will go straight through to the State finals.

Zone 11 will now control the grades from No 3 to 7s, with play underway from Saturday March 4. All draws have been sent to the State match committee for ratification.

Meanwhile the semi-finals of the Taree Railway Bowling Club’s Electric Light Fours will be decided tonight, with the final scheduled for tomorrow evening.