A BATTLE between Western District Bowls Division’s top two teams is emerging as an intriguing season subplot.
Undefeated Koroit Blue, a small club punching above its weight, will tackle six-time reigning premier Warrnambool Gold on Saturday.
Between them they’ve won 15 of a possible 16 games this season.
Their nearest rival, perennial grand finalist City Memorial Red, is third, having won just half of its eight games.
Koroit Blue’s Les Johnson and Warrnambool Gold’s Tristan McArthur believe Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash at Warrnambool is the test both teams desire.
Johnson, 52, said Koroit Blue wanted to challenge Warrnambool Gold’s mantle as the best.
“I think Warrnambool is the measuring stick in terms of depth, skill and the way they manage themselves in those bigger games,” he said.
“I think it is a flip of the coin, who turns up on the day, who draws who on the day, how well the teams combine and possibly who gets the luck.”
McArthur, 31, agreed with his rival.
“It is good to see a smaller club get up, but come on the bigger club I reckon,” he joked.
“There’s a fair bit of luck in bowls, we all know that, we’ve all seen it.”
Both players believe training – much like a football side – is the key to a success club.
Johnson, who has played for Warrnambool, City Memorial and Dennington over a 27-year career, said Koroit Blue was working hard on its standards.
“Whilst you hear there is practice that is scheduled, smaller clubs tend to be ‘practice when you want to practice’,” he said.
“In order to build team culture and professionalism, you need to have that skill level.”
McArthur, who missed Gold’s premiership in March due to work commitments, said there was always room for improvement.
“You’ll have a handful of blokes say ‘I played day pennant’ but if I’ve kicked the footy all day and if I didn’t turn up to training I wouldn’t get a game,” he said.
“From my point-of-view from how I see, it is probably why we are pretty good – we do get a good number of our rinks practicing together but there still is a lot of room for improvement in that area.”
Both Warrnambool Gold and Koroit Blue will be undermanned on Saturday.
It’s a problem which has plagued them this season.
“We’ve had a couple of settled rinks but the other two have had ins and outs,” Johnson said.
“We’ve had some really easy wins and some really challenging wins where we’ve had to dig deep.”
McArthur said Warrnambool Gold had made changes each round.
“Even this week going into it we’re two players down (with Mark Bowles and Dylan O’Keeffe missing),” he said.