Dolphins ready to bowl ’em over

The Merimbula Dolphins grade two men’s will head to Port Macquarie this weekend, on a quest for their maiden Royal New South Wales state pennant title.

With a state pennant flag regarded as the pinnacle of achievement for club based competition in NSW, the Dolphins will again head into the event with the opportunity to create history as the first Far South Coast club to achieve the feat.

This year will mark the 79th year of the event, which started out with only grades one and two being contested state-wide, with the winners of the minor grades being decided among the metropolitan clubs.

It has long evolved from those days however, and the 2014 incarnation will see seven grades contested across the state, with host venues including Belrose for grade one along with Ettalong Memorial, who will host grade four, while grade five will be played out in Tamworth.

With the grade two competition being one of the strongest of the pennant grades, the Merimbula team will face stiff competition when they arrive in Port Macquarie on Friday. 

After narrowly qualifying when they claimed the zone title in May, Merimbula coach and bowls development officer Michael Wilks has implemented a strict training regime in order to prepare his players for what lays ahead.

Merimbula has been no stranger to state pennant finals over the past few years, with the club’s grade four team qualifying last year, and only narrowly missing out on advancing through their section, while the grade two unit came within one game of a finals berth the previous year.

“This team is possibly the most experienced and well prepared that has represented the Far South Coast in many years,” Wilks, a six time Victorian state pennant champion himself, said.

“We have worked our way up to full-scale training sessions over the last eight weeks and it really appears the boys are ready to perform.

“In comparison to the team that represented us two years ago, we are significantly stronger.

“We have been fortunate enough to add experienced players such as former Victorian representative Lyle Taylor, prolific tournament winner Phil Burns and one of the coasts steadiest draw bowlers in Paul Stewart to our ranks.

“Along with them we have the addition of teen sensation Dylan Cuthbert, who in my book is one of the most exciting talents in this state.”

The Dolphins will face Windang in their first round of competition on Saturday morning, before matches with Dubbo City and Penrith.

The winner of their section will advance to the semi-finals, where they will likely face host club Port City.

Live score updates will be posted on the Bowls NSW website.

The Merimbula Dolphins 2014 grade two pennant finals side is:

  • Warren Harding, Lyle Taylor, Phil Burns and Michael Wilks;
  • Peter O’Neill, Heemi Nuku, David Shortal and Dylan Cuthbert;
  • Gary Vale, Paul Stewart, Boris Schneider and Ron Christie;
  • Emergencies: Wayne “Squizzy” Taylor and Barry Plummer.
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