Welcome to the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City where we have Steven Bradbury take gold for Australia after everyone else fell over on the last corner!! Deja Vu??
Well I have never seen anything like this coming into the final 3 games, literally every man & his dog has been offered a ticket to the big dance & turned it down at critical moments. Whether it's pressure or lower teams truly fighting for survival or maybe teams are getting ahead of themselves, either way nobody seems to want it bad enough to put together a few wins or they would be 2 or 3 games ahead by now & celebrating for the next 2weeks. Instead it's sleepless nights for another 2 weeks for many & they'll be plenty of blokes down for practice after those results. On the flip side it makes for a tremendously exciting finish which from a spectator's viewpoint is enthralling. This will be a fantastic 10 days or so.
We now have Mossies still on top but only 4.5pts between the top 4 with Warnbro in 2nd 1.5pts behind top spot. Safety Bay is chasing hard & they must be licking their lips as its like the sea's have parted & they have sneaked their way right up the middle & by only winning 2 of the last 4, go figure?! The Bay is now only 2pts off top spot with the best percentage going around so they'll be right there 5pm 20 March 2021. Pulling up in the last Finals spot is Wanneroo who are struggling with only 3 wins since R9 before Xmas but yet amazingly still only 4pts off top spot & still a chance, albeit diminishing quickly, of grabbing top spot.
At the bottom we have Osborne Park now confirmed as playing 1 Blue next year with their close loss & Kats put in a massive performance to give them a glimmer of hope for a playoff spot but if not some well needed confidence coming into the last 2 games.
7th & 8th are alot less clear on what might be happening as still only 7pts split 4 teams from 5th to 8th. Quinns are officially in trouble after another big away loss. Basso are also circling the drain for playoffs again with & sit in that dreaded 7th position, much like last year again. It's very difficult to see them finishing on more than 69pts & that puts them bang in the middle of trouble which leaves Gosnells & Warwick probably needing only 69.5 to 71pts to survive. This spot as every year will ALWAYS go down to the last end of the year which is terribly exciting & always cruel that after 378 ends over the season it all goes down to end no.378.
Kardinya 89 (7) v Mosman Park 60 (1)
Norm Ball 26 v Scott Edmonds 10
Stephen Vinci 27 v Stephen Jocelyn 16
Craig Stokes 13 v Dale Marsland 16
John Rochford 23 v Cameron Hoffman 18
What a performance by the Kats, they're back, although it might be too late but they put on a massive show at home to the top side. With all other results going that way they did, it gave the Mossies a huge chance to go clear with little hope of anyone catching them. If they were sitting on 82pts coming into R17 I think it would be all over for top spot but Kardinya had different plans & delivered across nearly all rinks to not only win but to take the Agg by nearly 30 shots.
Ball had Edmonds wrapped up early & pulled away by a huge 16shots. Vinci did similar to Jocelyn by 11 shots. Marsland pulled a valuable point back against Stokes by 3. Rochford's rink put it well beyond doubt with another 5shots over Hoffman.
This result is definitely an upset but the margin of the Agg win is somewhat a shock considering what's at stake. That breaks a 4 game winning streak for the Mossies but still leaves them top & in need a 2 wins & they just might get over the line. Needless to say R17 was already a big game but now this is an absolute blockbuster of a game for Mossies as 1st plays 2nd with the winner of that game more than likely heading to PL.
William Baker 14 v John Berecz 17
Lindsay Strange 27 v Christopher Parr 16
Sean Mawdsley 13 v Martin Hinchcliffe 20
Kieran Cousens 27 v Rohan Cantrill 15
Warnbro got through this one in workman like fashion as they grabbed the Agg but it was closer than the Agg suggested. The Wizards were desperate for the win after running only 2 wins from the last 6 games before this round & now they are only 1.5pts off top spot with better percentage & with a huge chance for clean entry into the PL over the next 2 games. Quinns continue to struggle away from home which has really hurt them this year which is a surprise as they went 6 from 8 away last year & had 92.5pts on the board with 2 games left & then COVID hit. With 2 games left now they only have gathered 58.5pts which shows the missing 34pts are harder got in 1 White especially winning only 1 away game all season. I know we spoke about the difference in 1 Blue North & South last year & there is always that debate about which division is stronger but for me I'm still sticking with 1 Blue South. The proof is in the pudding as Gosnells came straight up & Safety Bay won the playoff's with both teams doing very well this year & holding their own. 1 Blue North had Quinns with the automatic spot & the 2nd opportunity was defended well by Basso which again probably highlights that 1 Blue North is just a fraction off South in readiness for 1 White. However overall the balance tends to be pretty even over the years & 1 White & PL is about 50% split between North & South teams.
Some interesting matchups as both teams matched up well across the 4 rinks. Baker dropped to Berecz by 3 which was probably close to what the bookies would have called. Berecz side has done some heavy lifting this year so well done to them on a solid season so far. Strange ran over Parr late by 11 shots to maintain their good form. Hinchcliffe did pull another valuable point back for Quinns as they rolled Mawdsley by 7 which was a huge performance given they were the best rink in 1 White this year. Mawdsley side now losses their top spot to Safety Bay Owen's side as they battle it out over the final 2 games. Cousens had a business as usual win by a dozen against the struggling Cantrill side to top off the Agg win for the Wizards. Taking out that loss only left Quinns 1 shot shy of the Agg so this game was alot closer than suggested.
Quinns need 2 wins to confirm safety which will be hard as they have the rejuvenated Saints which they still should win & then the Roo's away for the last. Win both & they should stay up, lose 1 & they probably head to playoff's where they'll still fancy their chances. The Wizards have a monster game next week which will define their season.......forget thriller in Manilla, we are in for a right 'blue on Bay View'.
Result: Warnbro 6 -2
Prediction: Warnbro 7 - 1
Safety Bay 90 (7) v Bassendean 60 (1)
Christopher Owen 24 v Rodney Revell 10
Chris Carruthers 18 v Eugene O'Sullivan 19
Grant Taylor 26 v Travis Lynch 15
Ron Hall 22 v Aidan Caccioppoli 16
Good timing for the Bay to pull up the sleeves & get stuck into the Lions for a huge 7pts to launch them into PL contention. Now only 2pts off top spot with a far superior percentage, they have everything to play for from here. Basso will still be delighted that they managed to grab that 1pt at least as every point is huge at this stage. And that 1pt did come from O'Sullivan by the minimum margin on the last end so it was hard fought. Owen stopped Rocket's run by a big 14shot win & now goes top of the skippers ladder for 1 White. They have played brilliant this year so credit goes to the Owen rink on a superb season. Taylor accounted for Lynch quiet easily as they won by 11 shots & Hall beat Caccioppoli by 6 shots to top off a great home performance for the Bay.
Basso won't be overly upset on the result as the reality was a win would of been amazing but 2pts was probably the best outcome & they grabbed 1pt which isn't the worst & keeps them ticking over. Basso don't have a tough R17 but have a very tough R18 finish, so they should get around 68pts to finish. Unfortunately I do not think this will be enough & might be 1-2pts short of safety. I would imagine they would not be too fazed by playoff's as they would fancy themselves against a Yokine or Joondalup or if they dropped to 8th even a Manning or Fremantle side. However, it will be very close & won't be decided until the last few ends on R18.
Result: Safety Bay 7 - 1
Prediction: Safety Bay 7 - 1
Osborne Park 74 (1) v Warwick 80 (7)
John Carter 24 v Geoffrey Hinge 13
Mark Pasalich 18 v Graeme Smith 19
Fernando Di Giuseppe 15 v Brian Ledingham 27
Travis Ingram 17 v Jon Borkowski 21
The Saints were odds on for winning 4 from 5 to continue their purple patch but along came the Magpies with their big boy pants again this weekend to add to their unbelievable change in form. They are now the hottest team in the competition by far, running 4 on the trot & 5 from 6......this is a comeback of the ages so well done to the Magpies. After R10 they had only won 3 games all season, were 2nd from the bottom & in a world of pain......nekmit they have gone through the gears like a F1 driver & taken some massive scalps along the way. If they stay safe
Unsure if Carter's side was reading the preview but didn't they shut me right up to break their 7 game losing streak in a huge 11 shot win over a good Hinge side. Pasalich got edged by the minimum to Smith in a great game of bowls. Pasalich's side have done very well this year with all things considering but Smith's side grabbed a very valuable 1pt off them. Ledingham rolled back the years on an in-form DiGiuseppe's rink as they cruised to a 12shot win which was just enormous for the Magpies. Borkowski continued that high level of play by beating Ingram by 4 shots to give the Warwick a massive lift coming into the last 2 games. Warwick are certainly not safe yet but I think if they get 7pts from the next 16 available they'll repeat their miracle of last year but they won't wish to leave it as close as percentage this year.
The Saints can be proud of their response over the last few Rounds & will dominate 1 Blue next year unless they lose some key players.
Frank Carbone 19 v Kingsley Toster 15
Grant Nicol 19 v Darren Turra 16
Eoghan Gahan 23 v Hugh Ward 17
Brett Holland 27 v David Triffitt 18
And the upsets continued as usual with a huge performance by the Kookaburra's or a shocking show by the Roo's as they only put up 66 shots over the rinks. We did talk about that magic 80 shot mark in the preview & felt the first team to that score would win. Gosnell's have been strong at home so the result is not a massive shock but winning 8-0 is definitely a shock to everyone & more so to the Roo's.
The Kookaburra's just had a field day across the board with Carbone beating Toster by 4 shots, Nicol got a great matchup on Turra & took him by 3 shots in the end in a great tussle. Gahan stood up against Ward by 6 shots to get back into the winners circle & Holland got 9 shots on Triffitt to put the final big large cherry on top. What a great day for Gosnells.
Unsure what this means for the Roo's but it ain't good. The wagon wheels are wobbling in a big way but again 1 White is the Division that keeps giving this year & the bowling gods knocked off Mosman Park too to now give everyone in the top 4 a ticket chance of the big dance.
I might try a do a players used table for R17 but I'm struggling to understand how the Roo's have falling off so much since Xmas. Looking into selections was interesting as the Roo's have used 31 players so far this season, only Osborne Park have used more & there's some genuine reasoning with them. The team that beat them today have only used 18 players this season, therefore one might interpret the consistently of selection as a valid reasoning. For a team to lose a PL Finals last year, lose maybe only 1 player from that 16 & need to use nearly another full 16 selection throughout the year to see what works for them is somewhat baffling. On those stats, Monday selections sounds more like speed dating than a selection committee meeting. However, even worst case scenario is they are playing Finals & on their day on fast grass they will be a formidable side for anyone of the other 3 sides.
Well done to Gosnells on a superb performance & this gives them every chance of survival for their first year in 1 White.