The contenders for this year’s $13,000 City of Orange Golden Eagle Classic Pairs, the 51st edition of the prestigious tournament, are beginning to emerge following the opening two days of play on Monday and Tuesday.
Although the fourth round of sectional play was still in progress at time of publication on Tuesday afternoon a number of pairings had already stamped their authority on the competition by picking up victories in their opening three match-ups.
This year’s tournament was restricted to 32 teams and as a result the format underwent a slight change, rather than having four or five sections there is just two in 2019, with the top four teams from each to progress to the play-offs, which begin on Wednesday afternoon.
Through three rounds the best of those undefeated sides was Samuel Pryor and Gerard Harkins, the Gunnedah pairing claiming five, 15 and 16-shot victories to shoot out a plus-36 advantage.
Of their section one rivals, Bowral’s Nathan Boyers and Orange City’s Shaun May were just one shot behind having won by 12, 14 and nine-shot margins although their fourth round encounter was a tough one against locals Paul Ruggeiro and Ian Carr.
The next best in section one were perennial contenders Joel Diduszko and Paul Gonzales with three wins and a plus-14 advantage, while there was several pairings that had picked up two victories from their opening three fixtures.
Blakehurst’s Geoff Frost and Leo Gore, semi-finalists last year, were leading the front-runners in section two with consecutive victories and a plus-35 advantage.
They’d picked up comfortable 17, 13 and five-shot victories, while Grenfell’s Martin Betcher and Ray Walter were the next best, undefeated with a plus-21 tally.
Multiple-time champion Bernie Diduszko, a legend of the Golden Eagle, was in an interesting position through three rounds.
He and partner Barry Lambert had played out two thrilling draws, which count as half a win in this year’s tournament, and had also scored a five-shot victory to remain undefeated but slightly further down the section two standings.
Those draws gave them a record of two wins, which equalled the likes of Bathurst City’s Ray and Scott Fitzalan.
The fifth and final round of section play kicks off from 9am on Wednesday morning before the first of the play-off and consolation draw clashes at 1.45pm.
Thursday’s semi-finals start at 9am, with the decider scheduled for 1.15pm that day.
All the games are at Orange City Bowling Club, the tournament’s host.
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