Rochester gets first win of season

Graham Willis: Part of Mervyn Harvey’s winning rink, which influenced Rochester’s first win of the Campaspe weekend division one season. Photo by Cath Grey

Rochester Bowling Club’s division one Campaspe weekend team has registered its first win of the 2021-22 season.

In the closest of the division one matches from last weekend’s round, bottom-of-the-ladder Rochester claimed victory in thrilling fashion when it was a one-shot winner against Tongala.

Rochester remains 10 points behind sixth-ranked Tongala on the seven-team ladder, with seven rounds of the season remaining.

Every team has now played each other once and Echuca is clear on top of the ladder, ahead of Deniliquin, Moama and Rich River — three teams separated by just three pennant points.

Rochester won the match despite losing two of the three rinks, a 53-52 (12-4) win coming on the back of a 24-13 Mervyn Harvey victory against Bradley Tinning.

Harvey, who has been playing third to Richard Feuk, took over the reins from Peter Holzer at the weekend and scored the 11-shot win.

Holzer played as third, with Graham Willis and Helen Holzer in the lead bowling roles, to make up for the one-shot loss of Kelvin Wiffen and Feuk’s nine-shot loss to Greg Lyon.

Life does not get easier for Rochester, however, facing three of the top four sides in the coming weeks before its round 11 bye.

Apart from Echuca, the remaining three slots in the finals are probably still up for grabs at the halfway mark of the season.

• Echuca Bowling Club’s status as the Campaspe weekend division one premiership favourite has been confirmed after the weekend’s round of matches — with a dominant display resulting in wins over all six clubs remaining in the competition.

Echuca scored an 18-shot win, 65-47 (16-nil) and now is a massive 25 points clear of second-ranked Deniliquin, which was its opponent at the weekend.

The Echuca team is one of only two with a positive score differential at the halfway mark of the season; it and Rich River the only teams with more shots for than against.

Next week there is no rest for the ladder leader as it is pitted against third-ranked Moama, fresh off the bye, which it defeated in the opening round of the season.

Ian Page, bowling with reigning club singles champion Steve Cunnington as third, along with Matthew Brighton and John Dinsdale, was a 24-15 winner against Conway Bovell.

Bovell, who has only played a couple of games this season, was skipping in the absence of in-form skipper Jamie Shields.

Page said Echuca held sway for most of the afternoon, leading by 10-12 shots overall for most of the day.

On his own rink, Page was 0-5 to Bovell after three ends, but recovered to be 13-5 after 10 ends.

Echuca’s Dennis Compton beat Shane Laing 24-16, while the three-shot win of Phillip Thorn — standing in for regular skip James Ferrier — was enough to complete the clean sweep.

Compton, the unofficial Echuca club captain, is the second of the top team’s rinks, which has remained virtually unchanged all season.

Compton has the experienced Ivan Hicks as third, with Ashley French and Jerome Shaw in the lead bowling roles.

• Rich River has moved back inside the top four and now is within sight of the double chance, after a 19-shot win against Mathoura on Saturday.

Fourth-ranked Rich River, with its 69-50 (14-2) round seven victory, is 11 points clear of fifth-ranked Mathoura — its opponent from the weekend — and only three pennant points off second-ranked Deniliquin.

The top two teams will qualify for the double chance, while third and fourth play in an elimination round come finals time.

Rich River does, however, have the bye this weekend and will not be able to close in on its opposition.

Fortunately for the club though, third-ranked Moama has top-of-the-table Echuca.

Rich River president Gary Radford, playing as third to Keith Hewitt, was involved in the team’s only losing rink.

“We were down 12-1 early in the day. We had one particularly bad end, but by the second- or third-last end we managed to get back in front,” he said.

Hewitt was holding three on the 19th end of the 21-end contest, when Deniliquin skip David Hicks’ final bowl took his team from being three shots down to a two-shot end victory.

Hicks won the contest 21-19.

Jason McLoy’s eight-shot win against Mick Humphreys came in second Tim Noar’s first game of the season with the team.

Bruce O’Neale was the third change for Rich River for the round, bowling as second in Peter Nesbitt’s 24-11 win against Rodney Wener.

Nesbitt was down 7-2 after a handful of ends, but an 18-nil run had his rink sitting pretty with three ends remaining.

Radford said the club would need to play better in the second half of the season in order to be a threat in the finals.