March 10, 2018

Two to become one: Kyabram coach David Cartwright and Shepparton Park coach Mark Ryan will lead their teams into battle today, with the victor earning the right to challenge Shepparton Golf in next weekend's grand final. Surviving another day: Retiring Shepparton Park coach Mark Ryan will lead the team for another match after it progressed to the preliminary final.

Two to become one: Kyabram coach David Cartwright and Shepparton Park coach Mark Ryan will lead their teams into battle today, with the victor earning the right to challenge Shepparton Golf in next weekend's grand final. Game face: Kyabram's David Cartwright tries his best to bowl well on Tuesday against Shepparton Park.

There are no more second chances.

The buck stops here for Kyabram or Shepparton Park as Goulburn Valley Bowls Division weekend pennant reaches its penultimate day of action.

The preliminary final clash between two of division one’s heavyweights looms as a blockbuster of almost epic proportions.

When the dust settles over the Stanhope green this afternoon only one will remain to challenge Shepparton Golf next weekend.

For Shepparton Park coach Mark Ryan, who recently announced the current campaign as his last at the helm, a loss today would carry even more finality than just an end to his side’s season.

‘‘You’ve just got to play the game on its merits,’’ he said.

‘‘Whatever happens at the end of it all, we’ll realise at the end of the day.

‘‘With the prospect of a new coach next year no-one’s spot is safe, so there’s a lot to play for and also a lot of enjoyment to be had out there.’’

After a slow start on the greens before Christmas, the Parkers had to scrap for every point on the run home in order to sneak into fourth spot.

It has allowed Ryan’s troops to become battle-hardened in recent weeks, which could hold them in good stead in today’s clash.

Last weekend’s dominant clean sweep of East Shepparton in the elimination final has also given Ryan confidence his charges can handle anything that comes at them.

‘‘I think everyone feels a lot of satisfaction out of last week’s game and with the way we bounced back from a loss to Kyabram the week before,’’ he said.

‘‘It has given us a lot of self belief.

‘‘But that loss (in the final round) is still fresh in our minds and we certainly don’t underestimate Kyabram.

‘‘They’ve beaten us twice this year so our guys have got a lot to prove, and it will be about everyone on the park chipping in and doing their bit.’’

Skipper Jarryd Tinning’s importance was again highlighted with his 29-13 win against Jordan Thornton, while Leigh Clark (32-12), Ryan (33-22) and Jeff Anselmi (21-16) also led their rinks to victory.

The side will go into today’s fixture unchanged, meaning the 16 will again have to step up in order to remain alive.

‘‘I was satisfied with the way everyone played and came to the game in the right frame of mind last week,’’ Ryan said.

‘‘We have to be switched on again (today).

‘‘We’re looking forward to getting out there and playing, as well as having our supporters there giving us a cheer.’’

For Kyabram, a one-point difference on the ladder between it and Shepparton Golf heading into last weekend’s qualifying final did not translate into as tight a contest as it would have hoped, eventually going down by 25 shots.

David Cartwright’s men still managed to snare two rinks against the Golfers though and will be back to get the job done against the Parkers.

‘‘We’re quietly confident this week,’’ Cartwright said.

‘‘Last week Golf just played a better game than us, so hopefully we can take something away from that loss.’’

An eight-shot victory against the Parkers in round 14 was preceded by a 20-shot win in round seven for Kyabram, giving the squad the better form line coming into the clash.

‘‘We’re looking forward to playing Shepp Park,’’ Cartwright said.

‘‘But we know they’ll be up and about with it being possibly Rino’s last game, so they’ll be doing everything they can to send him out on a high.

‘‘When someone like Mark Ryan’s retiring you’d think his side will dig a little deeper for that, so we expect them to come out with a bit of fire.’’

Much is made about the performances of each side’s skippers every week, but in contests which promise to be as close as today’s it can often come down to how well the leads and seconds set a platform.

And Cartwright is confident Kyabram’s front end has what it takes to help book a ticket to the last day of the season, with Mal Williams likely to bolster the lead-off group.

‘‘Our front end has been pretty sound all year,’’ Cartwright said.

‘‘Mal Williams will probably lead and Rob Sceney could skip a rink but nothing is 100 per cent set yet.

‘‘Your front end definitely sets the game up.

‘‘Your skips and thirds might be able to lessen the damage a bit if your front end is off, but they’re not going to be able to win you games very often (without a strong front end).’’

Mark Ryan will join Brian Nisbet and Daniel Nichols this morning from 8am for the Goulburn Valley Bowls Division show on 98.5FM.

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