A sought-after place in the National Finals weekend looms large for club hopefuls around the country, as the Bowls3Five Interclub competition heats up.
Under the new format, which sees respective centre champions line up opposite their neighbouring province, 26 centres have been whittled down to just 13, with the remaining centres vying for one of seven spots at Naenae later this year.
Joining the seven sides will be the relegated televised sides of Royal Oak and Hinuera, along with the Bowls New Zealand Parajacks, who are all being given the opportunity to play their way back on to the big stage come October.
Another major change to this year’s format is the requirement for only three players to form a team, superseding the former rules of nine players – which for many clubs became an obstacle to compete.
Teams still in the running include Hikurangi, Takapuna, Bowls Hastings, Lansdowne, New Plymouth, Johnsonville, Blaketown, Timaru Town and Country, Redcliffs Mt Pleasant, Taieri, Invercargill and the powerhouse trio of Jo Edwards, Val Smith and Richard Collett – representing the Nelson club.
The final round of post-section will take place at various venues throughout the next fortnight, with the seven qualifying sides required to emerge by late April.
The Grand Finals format will see two sections of five sides playing in a round robin format, with the top two from each section comprising the semi-finalists. The winner of each semi-final will then go head to head in the Grand Final, though participation in the Final will qualify both clubs for the televised league.
The Grand Finals weekend will take place at the Naenae Bowling Club on June 12 & 13.
THE STORY SO FAR Bowls3Five National Interclub Provincial Play-offs
Hikurangi (Northland) b Opononi (Far North)
Takapuna (North Harbour) b Pukekohe (Counties Manukau)
Bowls Hastings (Hawkes Bay) b Gisborne (no contest)
Lansdowne (Wairarapa) b Takaro (Manawatu)
New Plymouth (Taranaki) b Wanganui (Wanganui)
Johnsonville (Wellington) b Paraparaumu Beach (Kapiti Coast)
Nelson (Nelson) b Riverside (Marlborough)
Blaketown (West Coast) b Buller (no contest)
Timaru Town & Country (South Canterbury) b Awamoa (North Otago) Canterbury (Redcliffs Mt Pleasant)
Taieri (Dunedin) b Arrowtown (Central Otago)
Invercargill (Southland) b Balclutha (South Otago)
Yet to be contested:
Auckland (Auckland) vs Coromandel (Thames Valley)
Frankton Railway (Waikato) vs Tauranga (Bay of Plenty)