The final round of the 2018/19 season was held in less than ideal conditions, with more extensive periods of rain than had been forecast, accompanied by a cold wind. Nevertheless, it was not enough to deter another excellent turnout of 22 teams, at a time when quite a few of the regulars were away.
The story this season has been one of total domination by a single club, the likes of which we have never seen before. Eastern Suburbs already had an unassailable lead, but the prospect of a dead rubber made no difference. Nor did it seem to matter that several of their key players were absent for Round 6, including their entire gold-medal-winning team from Round 5. This time around it was Selina Dally, Craig Stewart & Maurice Belz taking out the day’s honours, with Anna O’Connor, Tim Whelan and Wendy Bensen claiming silver.
All sorts of records have been broken by ESP this year. Perhaps the most remarkable is their final tally of exactly 300 championship points, which neatly equates to an average of 50 points per round. The only way for a club to get 50 points or more in one round is to have the winning team and another team finishing second or third. To do it once is quite an achievement. To maintain it over the entire season is simply staggering. Furthermore, it wasn’t achieved on the back of just one or two outstanding individuals. Sixteen ESP squad members featured in medal-winning positions during the season, with ten players taking home at least one gold. Congratulations to all.
The remaining clubs were left to fight it out for their final positions and the chance to salvage some pride. Second place was still in contention, with Prospect having snatched the advantage from Club d’Adelaide in the previous round. The latter did manage to gain some ground in Rd 6, despite a severely depleted line-up. But Prospect (also lacking a few of their key players) finished well enough to hold on by nine points.
Meanwhile, Adelaide Hills remained steady. Despite a changing of the guard above and below them, they once again finished the season in their accustomed fourth place.
The other stand-out club in this round was Novar Gardens, who had the weight of numbers, the home ground advantage and a squad of players who have steadily and rapidly improved in the the short time they’ve been in the competition. With Peter and Sue Matthews & Kenny May taking out the bronze medals, and Jonathan Giddings, Clive Paine & Bruce Lucas finishing fourth, their haul of 39 championship points was more than enough to hold on to fifth place in the championship, after a season-long battle with FAB and Gawler.
Gawler had fallen behind in that three-way contest, but scored good points this time after a very strong performance in the morning session. This gained them one position on the premiership table, to finish in sixth place, ahead of FAB and Port Noarlunga.
Thanks to the Novar Gardens club for doing a great job of hosting your first League event. The excellent facilities, carefully constructed pistes and well-organised army of volunteers all helped everyone make the most of the day under difficult conditions.
First – Craig Stewart, Selina Dally, Maurice Belz-ESP
Second – Wendy Bensen, Tim Whelan, Anna O’Connor – ESP