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The leading Bombers avenged last year’s final result against Island Park, Chisholm Links landed a playoffs blow to Taieri Lakes and the B52s got out of jail with a half thanks to some final-green heroics against St Clair in the weekend.
The Bombers lead by two points from Chisholm Links, which is now two points clear of the B52s.
But an intriguing battle looms for the fourth playoff spot. Every team is still in the race but needing to cause some upsets over the next three weeks.
In what always looked an uphill task at Balmacewen, a plucky understrength Island Park outfit faced the Bombers’ strongest line-up of the season. While the 4.5-1.5 result looked comfortable, the home side had to work for it as four games went the distance.
The Bombers’ top order won easily, Callum Judkins and Brandon Hodgson winning by big margins.
Park No6 Chris Snow won the last hole to halve with local greenkeeper Tyrone Ratahi in a match with several lead changes while on the same green Bombers No5 Duncan Croudis was 1-down but drained a 5m putt to halve with Michael Minty.
Bombers No4 Ben Patston was made to work for his 2-up victory over Monty Wong while Bombers No3 Will Young got out of jail when halving with Brent Butler who three-putted from distance on the final green.
Teeing off on the back nine at Balmacewen, the B52s have Andrew Hobbs to thank although a fast-finishing Matt Crawford almost stole it for St Clair.
St Clair’s tail set up the result — Jacob Bellamy was far too strong for Steve Horn in winning 7 and 5, Parker Aluesi ruined former top junior Ricky Stewart’s return to the top level and Cody McMullan justified his recall by defeating Will Machlachlan.
As usual, the home side’s strength lay with its top-order players — Tom Lee defeated Ryan Bellamy while Matt Weir accounted for Scott Mitchell.
With the score sitting at 3-2, Hobbs was cruising home — three up with four to play — but with birdies at the seventh and eighth holes, Crawford levelled the match on the ninth.
However, Hobbs arrested the momentum walking in a 4m birdie putt to see off the Crawford challenge for a 3-3 draw.
At Chisholm Links, the score may have flattered the home side. Dominant wins to Links top order Matt Tautari and Phil Bungard proved the difference.
Lakes No6 Blair Bennett earned Taieri’s sole win over Mackenzie Gibson while Links No5 Jason Pegler overcame a sluggish start to defeat Matt Mercer 3 and 1.
The veteran battle between Kyle Geary (Chisholm Links) and Mark Andrews was halved after always looking like going the distance while Links No3 Mike Weastell pulled away from Ryan Rosevear winning on the 17th.
Bungard and Tautari won impressively for a 4.5-1.5 result to Links.
- Michael Minty