The weekend of the 31st of May and 1st of June saw our District Pennant champions converge on the Hunter for the Zone playoffs, against the Hunter and Upper Hunter. And with the greatest or rivalry between our three districts everyone was out to bring home the spoils. And for the Manning it was a weekend filled with ecstasy and agony.
First about the agony. In grades 3,4,6, and 7 there was much carnage to come the way of the Manning. All of these grades went down in the first games with the closest affair being Tuncurry in the 3’s only going down by 10. These same four sides, down but not out, then went out against the much fancied teams from the Hunter clubs. Unfortunately for the Manning the results were the same with all four teams being put out of the running for the flags by the end of day one, Although these games were a lot closer then their morning games, With Taree Wests 6’s Trying to hold on n the last end to only go down by two shots.
The only team to ” Buck ” the trend in the Round Robin matches was Wingham in the 5’s. In their morning match against the upper hunter side from Denman, they show nerves of steel to hold on to victory by a mere 4 shots, which secured them the afternoon off, and a chance to size up the next mornings opposition. But alas the afternoon off didn’t seem to have helped the country boys. The red hot side from Greta Workers, which the day before disposed of Denman by 41 shots, maintained their scintillating form and accounted for the Wingham lads by an impressive 32 shots.
Now to the ecstasy with the two ” First past The Post ” games grade 1 and 2. First we’ll go to the hotly contested grade 1 flag. Tuncurry were out for revenge in a rematch of last years zone match when Kurri Kurri ran out the 2013 champions in the last quarter of the game. From the get go Tuncurry where there to show they weren’t going to let it slip away again. At the halfway the teams were close with a slight lead the way of Kurri. In the closing stages of the match Kurri had a very handy 14 shot lead with only 7 ends to play. BUT Tuncurry showed grit and determination and playing the last end need 3 shot for a draw and 4 to win. Holding the required 3 and on the mat with his last bowl Tuncurry skipper Steve Harris drew a back toucher to make four with one to come.With the crowed on the edge of the seats , Kurri skipper Nathan Dawson played his last, and when it came to rest the measures came out. And after several attempts the Tuncurry third signaled 4 shots to the manager which was enough to give them the win and now raise the No1 flag in the Manning for 2014.
In grade 2 Wingham came up against the power house that is Maitland City. Maitland City 2 grade has not lost a game all year and were out to impress. The ” Boys From The Bush ” were in control of the match most of the game with the ” City ” boys only getting close at one point midway through the game. All three skippers played with the precision worthy of a grade 1 final, with Jake Hinton saving or converting upwards of 15 shots alone in the first 8 ends of his rink, even though the rink went down by 2 without him it could have been much worse. Wingham eventually overcome their experienced opponent and ran out winners of the 2014 grade 2 pennant by 14 shots. This gave the Manning the grade 1, 2 double for the second time in three years. But more importantly broke the hoodoo for Wingham as they created history by winning the clubs first zone 6 pennant flag.
So, the weekend was not all lost with some great games played over the two days and a great result with the Manning winning the top two grades. The district would like to congratulate all players involved in these playoffs. And wish Tuncurry and Wingham Clubs all the very best in their attempts to bring a state flag back to the Manning in early August.