The $100,000 Bowls Premier finals are upon us with four quality franchises set to do battle on centre stage tonight live on Fox Sports and Sky Sports NZ.
No matter which team take home the ultimate prize, BPL history will be made at Club Pine Rivers tonight.
It’s been a long wait for the BCiB Sydney Lions and their supporters but Karen Murphy, Ben Twist and Aron Sherriff have delivered in BPL04, taking the Lions to the franchise’s first finals campaign in BPL history.
It was an agonizing defeat in the final round of BPL03 which cost the Lions making the finals last year; however in 2016 Sydney had well and truly booked their place before the final round and instead battled it out with the Murray Steamers for top spot.
Sydney Lions defeated Murray Steamers in straight sets, 5-4, and 7-3; however the pair will meet again tonight in the semi-final at 6:15pm with the winner progressing directly to the grand-final, the loser receiving a second chance against the winner of the elimination final.
The Murray Steamers have looked the team to beat from the half way mark of the competition with their star recruit, Canadian representative Ryan Bester, not only guiding the Moama Bowling Club’s franchise to a finals berth, but putting himself right into contention for BPL04 MVP.
A victory to the Murray Steamers tonight would not only secure Michael Walker, Ellen Ryan and Ryan Bester a share in the $30,000 first prize, but would write the Steamers into the record books as the only franchise in BPL history to win dual titles, a remarkable feat having only been involved in three instalments of the revolutionary tournament.
Another fairy tale is brewing in BPL04 with perennial bridesmaids the Messenger Press Adelaide Endurance qualifying for their fourth consecutive finals appearance.
The last round of the competition saw two team vying for the last finals spot with the New Zealand Blackjacks needing a victory over the Crown Perth Suns, and for the local franchise the Brisbane Pirates to finish their tournament on a high with a win over the Blundstone Melbourne Roys to give the defending champions a hope in BPL04.
The first set panned out well for the New Zealand Blackjacks winning their first; however the match between Melbourne Roys and Brisbane Pirates was out of their control; the Melbourne Roys scored two on a power-play which made it four and a one shot victory in their opener.
New Zealand again jumped out to a lead in the second set and managed to hold on for a 7-4 win, so then it was nervous times for the Melbourne Roys who were trying to overcome the local franchise being boosted by a jovial home crowd.
It came down to a tie-break in the Roys and Pirates match; great leading from Aaron Wilson, backed up by perfect position bowls by Dylan Fisher was enough to hold on as Natasha Scott’s running shots narrowly missed on each side of the head.
Adelaide Endurance will have to stomach an elimination final with Melbourne Roys at 5:00pm tonight with the loser being eliminated from the competition.
New Zealand Blacks conclude their title defence with a fifth place finish in BPL04 after a gallant fight back to put themselves back into contention after four straight loses on day one.
The Crown Perth Suns had another great Bowls Premier League but unfortunately for the Sandgropers they weren’t able to replicate their brilliance on the television rink during the day matches at Club Pine Rivers and finished the tournament with five wins and nine loses.
The Queensland franchises round out the field after disappointing BPL04 campaigns but will no doubt bounce back for BPL05 when it heads across the ditch to Auckland on February 27.
To view the final standings and results from today’s matches click here
Elimination Final (3vs4) 5:00pm
Adelaide Endurance vs Melbourne Roys
Semi-Final (1vs2) 6:15pm
Sydney Lions vs Murray Steamers
Preliminary Final (Loser of semi-final vs winner of elimination final) 7:30pm
Final (winner of semi-final vs winner of preliminary final) 8:45pm
Caption- Sydney Lions top the field whilst the Steamers, Endurance and Roys will join the Lions in tonight’s finals