Howlong will begin its defence of the Albury and District grade three pennant crown with a rematch of last year’s final against North Albury at North Albury on Saturday.
Albury and District Bowling Association president and Howlong player Jeff Brundell is expecting another hard-fought season in the top grade.
“In that division, all of the teams are pretty even,” Brundell said.
“Whilst we were the winners last year, there’s no certainty we’re going to be the winners again.
“We’d like to think we are, but on any given day it’s a pretty even competition.
“North Albury are always tough and we meet them in the first game.
“We’ve got to play them twice in the year, so it doesn’t really matter when it happens.
“It will be another interesting year.”
The Spiders have lost players from last year’s winning side, including greenkeeper Robert Brown, who has moved back to Tumut, but Brundell is confident they have enough depth to cover them.
“It gives an opportunity for the younger blokes to come up,” he said.
“It’s a strange game, we were worried about even getting three teams on the green and suddenly we’ve had three or four new bowlers come to town and we were able to fill them.”
In the weekend’s other grade three matches, Commercial clashes with Culcairn, while Lavington takes on Henty.
The remainder of the pennant grades from four to six will be slightly different this season, with more teams contesting the grade five and six competitions following the omission of grade seven due to a lack of numbers.
“It’s a bit disappointing, but we’d rather make it so everybody gets a game,” Brundell said.
“There just wasn’t enough teams in the sevens to justify having it as a standalone competition.”
Due to the predicted high temperatures on Saturday, all of the opening round matches are set to move forward to 10.30am, with a 10.10am roll-up.