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Shepparton News - - BOWLS - By Tyler Ma­her

Shep­par­ton Park can ce­ment its spot near the apex of the Goul­burn Val­ley Bowls Di­vi­sion lad­der in the com­pe­ti­tion’s top tier to­day.

The Parkers are third on the ta­ble af­ter tak­ing seven points from lad­der leader Kyabram last round, but re­main only 15 points ahead of fifth be­fore to­day’s clash against Sey­mour.

More im­por­tantly, Hill Top (fifth) and Stan­hope (sixth) face each other to­day, mean­ing one of the pair is likely to close the gap if the Parkers fal­ter on their home greens.

‘‘Sey­mour is a huge game in the con­text of our sea­son,’’ Shep­par­ton Park team man­ager Ash­leigh Wil­liamson said.

‘‘We were or­di­nary against East Shep­par­ton and lucky to pinch a draw against Kyabram, so we need to get that win­ning feel­ing back and so­lid­ify our po­si­tion in the top four, par­tic­u­larly with Hill Top im­prov­ing in the past cou­ple of rounds and clos­ing the gap in fifth.’’

The Parkers’ record this cam­paign — three wins, two losses and a draw — is a mixed bag, but af­ter a tu­mul­tuous off­sea­son the club’s di­vi­sion one out­fit has ex­celled past out­sider ex­pec­ta­tions to again chal­lenge for a spot in fi­nals.

The side’s form has been helped by the smooth tran­si­tion Paul Ni­chols has man­aged af­ter tak­ing the reins from dual premier­ship coach Mark Ryan.

‘‘The morale across the en­tire club has been pos­i­tive since Paul Ni­chols ar­rived,’’ Wil­liamson said.

‘‘Our five week­end pen­nant sides are in the top four at the mo­ment, which I think has been a pos­i­tive by-prod­uct of our off­sea­son ex­o­dus and op­por­tu­ni­ties open­ing up across the board.

‘‘We are a proud club that is used to play­ing fi­nals and we have given our­selves a good chance to achieve that in each di­vi­sion.’’

Ni­chols, Ross Higgins, Paul War­ren and De­nis Smyth have all won three games as skip­pers for the Parkers this sea­son and will be look­ing to climb the league skip lad­der af­ter to­day’s con­test.

Sey­mour lost to Stan­hope by 19 shots last week and must bounce back against the Parkers to keep its hopes of re­main­ing in di­vi­sion one next sea­son shin­ing bright.

Vic­to­rian Open women’s sin­gles fi­nal­ist Al­i­son Hall, Max Ham­mond, Robert ‘‘Big­gles’’ Brown, Rob Bald­win and Matt O’Sul­li­van give Sey­mour some qual­ity in its skip and third po­si­tions.

Ross the boss: Ross Higgins skipped a 35-shot rink win last week against Kyabram’s Scott Don­ald­son.

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