The playoffs start a week early for the Royal Oak Rockets in Bowls3Five.
The Rockets are on the outside looking in as they vie for a place in the top three that will contest the inaugural league title at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland next week.
Royal Oak will square-off against Auckland rivals the Point Chevalier Pirates in the final match of the penultimate round tomorrow night (Tuesday, November 20) and the Rockets are treating it as sudden-death.
“If you’re in the bottom three there’s no guarantee of anything,” Royal Oak skip Mike Galloway said.
“You can finish fourth and just miss out on the playoffs and still get relegated.
“That’s definitely a driving point to get in that top three and make sure you’re safe for next year.”
The Pirates prevailed in the first Auckland derby in week two, edging the Rockets on a tie-breaker end.
“We definitely owe them one, big time,” Galloway said.
“Both teams in Auckland have had great support from their clubs so I think tomorrow night’s game will be a big game for the spectators and the players.”
Mike Galloway will be joined by the ever-present Robyn Fisher (lead) and Martin Dixon, while the Pirates will also field their first-choice trio for the match, with Pt Chev skip Aiden Takarua to be joined by Jenny Stockford (lead) and Alex Reed.
The Pirates have rotated their squad throughout the first four weeks of competition and Takarua says he has confidence in whoever he plays with.
“Whenever I go up the other end I know the people up there are backing me and it gives me confidence to play my shots,” he said.
“[But] it’s me, Jenny and Alex from now on, through until we get knocked out or win it.”
Aiden Takarua and Reed have been getting in some extra match practice “before the TV stuff”.
“I play with Alex a lot. He is two in my club triples this week and we’re in the final,” Takarua said.
Pt Chev enter the final week of round-robin equal first on points with the Stoke Thunder, but the Pirates are aware of the importance of the Auckland derby.
“It’s a must-win for them and probably a must-win for us if we want to get that first spot,” Takarua said.
“And also if we beat them we’re safe in the top three, so there’s a lot riding on the game.”
The Thunder will square-off against the third-placed Gore Rams in the opening match of day nine before the second-to-bottom Stokes Valley Vipers face the winless Woodend Jets.
Round-robin action concludes on Wednesday night (November 21), with the playoffs starting next week.
Day 9 matches (all broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport 2):
Gore Rams vs Stoke Thunder – 7:05pm
Stokes Valley Vipers vs Woodend Jets – 8pm
Point Chevalier Pirates vs Royal Oak Rockets – 9pm
Standings after four of five weeks of round-robin
Stoke Thunder 18
Pt Chev Pirates 18
Gore Rams 15
Royal Oak Rockets 12
Stokes Valley Vipers 9
Woodend Jets 0