THE hoodoo is hovering ever so conspicuously over Ballarat, which is in danger of dropping out of its third consecutive finals series in straight sets.
Having finished on top of the ladder after the home and away season and earning a subsequent double chance for the finals, Ballarat is again facing the prospect of a humiliating finals exit after going down to City Oval last week.
The thought has crossed the mind of president Mark Fothergill, but he insists it is not the players’ top concern.
Gone are the altered practice sessions and team bonding sessions that were held once finals started – it is now back to basics.
“We’ve gone back to the low key preparation, which is what we did throughout the year,” Fothergill said of his side, which notched up more wins than any other Ballarat District Bowls division one team.
“It worked throughout the year for us so we’re going back to what has worked.”
Having had two players pull out on the verge of the match last week, Fothergill said the lineup would return to full-strength tomorrow.
Wayne Fitzgerald and Stan Barnett re-enter the side, with Ken Osborne and John Fitzgerald the unlucky duo to make way.
“I’d hate to go down in straight sets again, it always leaves an empty feeling,” Fothergill said.
“We want to come out of the blocks firing. We were never in front last week, we had to play catch-up all day and that makes it hard.”
For Central Wendouree, third bowler John Nunn said his side entered the match with nothing to lose; all the pressure was on Ballarat.
The Bears have not made any changes for the clash.
“We’re quietly confident but we respect Ballarat, they didn’t finish on top for no reason,” Nunn said.
“We’ve got nothing to lose, they are expecting to win the premiership. We’re definitely the underdogs, they are the form team.”
The winner of the match will advance to the grand final, where City Oval awaits.