THE match of the pennant season - Ballina and South Lismore, tied on points in the top grade with two rounds to go - had the Southies triumphant.
They won by 17 shots to grab the lead and are sitting pretty to take the flag.
It depends now on this Saturday's final round. In this, Ballina will meet tailender Evans Head and South Lismore will be up against third-placed East Lismore. If the Southies win, the No 1 pennant goes up on their wall. Should they lose and Ballina win, the points will be tied and Ballina with a superior shot margin will land an unprecedented seventh straight No 1 flag. Ballina has a margin of plus 202 to South Lismore's plus 153.
Progressive points after nine rounds - South Lismore 16, Ballina 14, East Lismore 10, Casino RSM five, Alstonville four, Evans Head three.
Ballina and South Lismore are also fighting it out in the No 2s. In this, Souths lead Ballina by two points but again Ballina has the superior margin, plus 67 to plus 11.
Washed-out games to be played on Saturday week are - No 1: Alstonville v East Lismore. No 5: Alstonville v Broadwater. No 7: Bonalbo v Casino RSM.
HENRY MISSES OUT
A FOURTH straight world singles title eluded former Northern Ireland international Jeremy Henry at the World Cup at Warilla, the club he now calls home. The title also by-passed the one tipped to beat Henry, former England international David Holt, now based at St John's Park.
The crown went to Scotland's Iain McLean who added it to the world champion of champions title he won in New Zealand last year.
McLean beat Holt in the final 9-4, 6-6 after edging out Henry in a semi-final.
The women's championship went to Malaysia's Siti Zalina Ahmad who ousted Scotland's Julie Forrest 11-4, 12-5 in the final. Forrest had beaten world No 1 Jo Edwards in the semis.
IT WAS an all-Ballina final for the district Open triples championship at East Lismore.
Kempsey import Peter Taylor, who has been making his mark on the local scene, had lead Scott Gibson and second Josh Greenhalgh with him when they took the title in a runaway 30-14 victory over powerful clubmates Mick Anderson, Luke Jones and skip Kris Lehfeldt.
The district senior triples title played for at Ballina RSL was won by Evans Head's Brian Sten, Ted Butler and Peter Carey 29-16 over S Prasad's team.
ALLIGATOR Creek, the small North Queensland bowls club with the intriguing name, was struggling - its green was unplayable and it had financial woes. The nearby Jubilee club was going so well it was replacing its synthetic surface. Rather than throw the replaced green away, Jubilee gave it to Alligator Creek. It was laid and the 'Gator Creek president said the new-old green was 'full again and we're celebrating a new start'.
FRIDAY'S big wet postponed Lismore Height's highly successful $400 Super-Friday Pairs that continued to pack them in even while the club was going through its danger period. It's on this Friday … and as the greens will be full again, it's best to book in early.
Heights also will be staging a novel Three-Bowl Pairs on Friday, May 22. Organiser Jim Rank says the three-bowl format for pairs is different and has proved popular over the years. It's two games of 28 ends, 12.30pm start, dress mufti and there's a total $750 on offer. Contact 6621 5493.
My View: A return to glory days?
SOUTH Lismore, soundly beaten by 29 shots by Ballina in Round Four, answered when it was needed in Saturday's penultimate pennant round.
The title's not decided yet but the once impregnable South Lismore is in the box seat to take its 18th No 1 flag since 1950. On the other hand Ballina which, until it started carrying all before it in 2009, hadn't won one in the top grade since 1984.
Ballina has been so powerful in recent seasons that it seemed only one side was in the contest. But this year, the nip-and-tuck struggle with the resurgent Southies retained intense interest in a competition that, with delays, has extended over a quarter of a year.
Top grades are super-careful not to include ineligible players. But every season pennant scores have to be adjusted because of this happening at lower level. This time around one club did it in three rounds. Somehow, those it happens to deserve sympathy - rules on pennant eligibility are so obtuse it takes a bush lawyer to interpret. Still, bowls secretaries can't afford to take chances when naming teams. Losing points after a genuine mistake can be a body blow - one slip-up can ruin a chance at a pennant.
This checking for eligibility makes the job of match committee chairman George Newell more time-consuming and difficult. It adds to his compiling and issuing of a comprehensive score sheet each Saturday after play is completed, a task he does with speed and accuracy.
Just think of the work involved - every week there are seven grades to keep track of. That's 39 sides with a total 468 bowlers.
Organising pennants is hard and the amount of jealousy and back-biting it engenders in clubs, I wonder whether it's worth it.