The BLG 2017-18 playoffs began on Saturday afternoon with three Gawler and Districts Tennis Association teams advancing straight to the grand final round, leaving the Barossa and Light Association teams a power of work to do if they are to prevent a repeat of the 2016-17 season premiership lockout.
Xavier Saints took on Nuriootpa in the Division 1 first semi final, and it was a case of ‘What Xavier giveth, Xavier also taketh away’. After gifting Nuriootpa a confidence inspiring win last weekend, Xavier obliterated their closest competitor with consummate ease 11-88 to 6-64. Xavier powerbroker Robert Polito and the unstoppable Indi-Arna Morris returned, but at the end of the day’s play it was the classy Damian McGee left wearing the halo.
Absent Nuriootpa captain Grant Daniel recently made the audacious claim that his next match would be the grand final, a claim he will need to seriously revisit as his team faces a straight set exit this week.
Youngster Renee Davis was exceptional for Nuriootpa, and she will be looking for a few team-mates to lift in a do-or-die preliminary final.
Kapunda hosted Tanunda for a second straight week, and while the result was not as comprehensive as last weekend, the Bombers ended Tanunda’s encouraging season with a solid 10-91 to 6-65 win.
The win came on the back of a seven sets to one ladies domination, with only Maddie Beckmann able to pry a set from the Bombers’ Mandy Gerhardy, Georgie Rowett, Sarah Johnson and Karen Daniel.
With local peace-keeper Tom Christley officially ‘off duty’ for the finals, Kapunda will be looking forward to a different style of enforcement, and he will need to continue his good form if the Bombers are to atone for last year’s grand final disappointment.
An under pressure Nuriootpa now take on a free-wheeling Kapunda for the right to challenge the incomparable Xavier as they strive for back-to-back Division 1 premierships.
Division 2 featured a clash of contrasts as the unassuming Willaston 12-85 hosed a cocksure Roseworthy 4-49, with the match-up delivering a feeling-laden ‘Showdown-esque’ atmosphere.
Roseworthy held high hopes after upsetting the peerless Willaston in the minor round. However, with calm and focus, Willaston showed why they are considered a lock for the premiership as they eased their way to an effortless win.
Roseworthy must now put the disappointment of this result aside and regroup as they face an in-form, full-strength Lyndoch, led by Tyson Liebelt and Ryan Ogden. This match-up could go either way, and it would surprise no-one to see Lyndoch advance to the grand final in two weeks’ time.