Nelson Bay is heading back to the NSW pennant finals.
Grade six from Nelson Bay Bowling Club won the Newcastle pennant flag in May, and is now looking ahead to the state pennant which will be held in Tamworth in August.
Bill Gainsford was part of the grade six side that last went to the state pennant with Nelson Bay in 2013.
That year, the Bay sent grade six and four.
Neither team won state pennant flags.
“I’ve been sitting back comparing the two teams,” Gainsford said.
“We have an older team this year, more experienced.
“We’ll be going there [finals] trying to win it.
“We have a fairly good chance; we have an experienced team.”
Gainsford and Gary Harrison were part of the 2013 team that went to the state final, and will return this year.
The Bay had six pennant teams in the mix this year: grade one, three, five, six and two in grade seven.
Richard Girvan, the bowls development and operations manager at Nelson Bay Bowling Club, said it was “great” that the team was in the finals.
“It’s great for the club and obviously great for the guys,” he said.
“It [final] is going to be tough for them, but I think we have a team who can bring the state pennant flag back to Nelson Bay.”
Nelson Bay will send 14 men to the state pennant, which will run between August 4 and 6.
After 10 weeks of play, the Bay’s grade six team claimed the Newcastle pennant flag following the final on May 21.
The side defeated Charlestown (70-36) in the quarter-final and Mayfield West (64-56) in the semi-finals.
The Bay faced Lowlands at Wallsend Bowling Club in the final, defeating the side 64-49.
“We didn’t play the last end, we were in front that much,” Gainsford said.
Their dominant performance came despite losing two players to injury in the weeks leading up to the Newcastle District Bowling Association pennant finals.
They were replaced by reserve players.
Their Newcastle finals call up has not gone unappreciated.
The two reserves will travel with the original team of 12 to Tamworth in August.
For one of the men, who has been playing bowls for 30 years, it will be his first ever final.
In the finals, the Bay are playing as Newcastle Zone 2.
They have already been placed in a pool and will face Dapto Huntley playing for Illawarra Zone 16, North Albury for South West NSW Zone 8 and a yet to be named team from Hunter Zone 6.
Gainsford said the side will continue playing bowls in the weeks leading up to the final, as preparation.