Ballarat East has bolstered its playing stocks as it looks to erase two successive years of Ballarat District Bowls Division heartache.
The Two Blues have lost back-to-back division one grand finals, but club president Mick Kay said it appears a stronger outfit will attack the 2016-17 campaign, which begins this Saturday.
Kay said the club has lured the services of Ballarat Memorial Sports bowlers Andrew, Aidan and Ryan Bedggood.
Despite losing key pair Travis Hedger (to Creswick) and Jeff Hogg (Sebastopol), Kay thinks it’s a better line-up that will chase the flag this time around.
Division two premiers Sebastopol is hoping to field a competitive team after winning promotion, with Hogg and the returning Michael Morgan among the new faces to the side, which is without premiership player Neil Lloyd-Jones.
Avenue has dropped back from premier division and has bolstered the team with the return of former club champions Alan Reid and Stephen Sullivan, BMS men’s chairman Cameron Bryce said his club will again field a “good, competitive and stable” team, while fellow 2015-16 finalists Ballarat has lured back Wayne Fitzgerald and secured former Melbourne-based player Tim Slater.
In other off-season news, Mt Xavier has lost Luke Cornish to Learmonth, while Joe McGrath has moved from the region. Lyn Maple has been promoted to division one at Central Wendouree, which has also welcomed back Kerry Watts from City Oval. Midlands Golf has lost a couple of important players, including Andrew Ingram, while Creswick has recruited well, headlined by Hedger’s arrival. Learmonth, meanwhile, will be out to better a 2015-16 campaign that saw it narrowly miss the finals.
In the premier division, following a difficult 2015-16 season Webbcona has its sights set on a top four berth. It finished seventh last year but the recruitment of three key players and the loss of just one has president Brett Mahoney optimistic about the club’s potential in 2016-17.
“Hopefully we can look forward to a better season. Let’s hope with the new recruits and hard work that our team is compatible and we can find consistent form to go up to the top four,” he said.
While despite a busy off season, Sebastopol it is expecting another strong season. It has lost four of its premier players from last season but looked to replace them with three recruits – the club believes it has a more balanced line-up this season. Ocean Grove and Queenscliff face-off in the opening round, with the Grovers hopeful of continuing its hot late-season form of last year while the Cliffers will enter with the same side as last year and is confident of again playing a role at the business end of the season. The promoted Bareena, having won the Geelong division, will have a stark introduction to the premier division as it takes on reigning premier Victoria.
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