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Bowls In Focus : October 2011
Bowls In Focus 19 Simmons and Dylan Fisher will have on their aspirations of becoming the first premier club to achieve a ‘threepeat’ of flags. While Michael Wilks and Brad Martin are pulling the strings the Clayton side will always be a force, while the addition of the solid performing Rod Nicholson and a few other talented front-end players will bolster its stocks. Young guns such as Dylan Benwell and Tony Wood are now in the upper echelon and there is also a good sprinkling of talented young guys just waiting for their chance to shine. Word from Namatjira Park is that they are a very happy group. Is it possible that the Clays have climbed the mountain too many times? Yes it is, and they are notoriously slow starters each season, which clearly showed last year. However, when the dealing is to be done, they’ll still be number one. My 2011/12 prediction: Premiers ESSENDON The Bombers haven’t won a flag since premier pennant started in 1997 and have rarely made the finals for that matter. They are a team that always looks good on paper but can’t put it into practice out on the grass when it really matters. In last season’s finals they had a great opportunity to make a statement when they played a dishevelled and tired looking Altona side in a semi but failed. Once again their talent scouts have gone to the bush seeking new blood to hopefully boost their chances and have convinced Aaron Tomkins and the Wilson brothers Matty and Nathan to come on board. Compatibility is a must for the Bombers to succeed and they must get it right from the start, because if they don’t, look out, their season could finish very early. The side’s record at Windy Hill is quite good, but they must learn to win the big away rounds if they are to become a respected contender. My 2011/12 prediction: Fifth LALOR Noone ever doubts the courage and desire to succeed of any side the Lalor club puts out on the park. But this season could well end up as one they would rather forget. Former South Australian state player Jeff Aworth has apparently joined them and their coach Ian ‘JR’ Ewing is an absolute gun. But save for Matty Lucas and Paul Michael, much- travelled journeyman Vito Rio and young up- and-comer Chris Watt, they simply haven’t got enough top players to compete at the elite level. Frankly, there’s not too much there for the club faithful to hang their hats on. First and foremost, to avoid relegation, they must win most of their home games because it doesn’t get any easier on the road. As much as I admire ‘JR’ and wish he and his men well, the best I can offer is that they are a chance to make the finals – in Division 1 next season. My 2011/12 prediction: Tenth MELBOURNE Some big ‘ins’ down at the house of Windsor this season, with the welcome return of the club’s favourite son Russell Green after a season alongside his dad at Elsternwick, and the arrival of former Clayton premiership stars Todd Simmons and Dylan Fisher. No doubt Russell will bring back the spark that the Demons lacked last year, and although the group is still writhing in pain from its capitulation to Clayton in the 2010 grand final, they are a proud lot and should be very good this time around. Another scar they have a chance to erase is that some people have labelled them ‘chokers’ having won just four flags from eleven grand finals in 14 years. Being in successive winning sides over the past two years, Simmons and Fisher could be a source of inspiration, but they have both found a way to lose big matches in recent years, so it will be interesting. A good run up to the Christmas break will be vital for the Demons if they are to be a force. My 2011/12 prediction: Third MOONEE PONDS Missing out on last season’s chocolates by a single shot has sorely grated on the Moonee Ponds men and steps have been taken which they believe will stave off a repeat. A decision to dispense with the services of fly-in mercenaries Shane Garvey and likeable Wayne Turley sends out a strong message, while the addition of excellent team players Adam Galloway, Chris Donaldson, Nathan Wise, Shane Fordham and James Oliver will add solidarity to every line. No side that can boast international superstars such as Mark Jacobsen, Steve Glasson and Barrie Lester in its line-up can ever be discounted, while the likes of former Australian Open winner Robert Doody, Brett Spurr and young Chris Ball are seasoned performers on the big stage. I’ve got a good feeling about the Moonee men - they appear to be most excited about the season ahead. No doubt they will have an impact on what happens next March, although how much impact is up to the gods of the game. My 2011/12 prediction: Runners-Up ROSAMOND Every year Rosamond seems to find a way to stay in premier division and this time around they will again tough it out with the likes of Zitter and Fowler playing big roles for the Rockets. I’m impressed with the way in which this club’s top side - most are virtual unknowns – get out there and fly the flag week in, week out. They must win all their home games to avoid relegation again, however, if they can snare a couple of close results against the power clubs, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if this motley crew made their first appearance in the finals. There’s a lot to like about the Rockets, not the least being the way big David Zitter goes about his business, but when you are an expert tipster like myself there can be no sentiment. Sorry guys, maybe next year. My 2011/12 prediction: Seventh WERRIBEE It’s the same story every season when the Werribee RSL side neither wins the premiership nor gets relegated as they always finish middle of the road. The Bees must win early games to keep in touch with the finals race. Their carpet home ground advantage is a big one, but they must win away games to have any chance of finals. How often have we seen them towel up top sides at the hive then lose to mediocre teams on the road? Coach Brett Dodd and the irrepressible ‘Snowy’ Barker are absolute champions and the hot rumour is that ‘Cocky’ Brunato has returned, while teenager Dane McKinnon adds plenty of youthful exuberance, so they might be one to watch. And although they always seem hard to beat, I tipped them to make the four last season and they let me down, so they must do penance this time around. My 2011/12 prediction: Sixth
August September 2011