Altona’s Premier Bowls premiership defence is off to a shaky start, after losing its opening round match against the newly promoted Whittlesea at the weekend.

Travelling to take on the competition’s newest addition, Altona won one rink, and narrowly lost two others, but a blowout on the final rink was enough to give Whittlesea a dream start to their season with a 76 (16) to 67 (2) victory.

Altona coach Ben Loughlin said it was a disappointing way to kick off the new season.

“We’re all pretty disappointed, especially as the reigning champions and they’re in their first game up from division one,” he said.

“We went in reasonably confident, but it’s such a tight competition that you can’t really rest on your laurels. Those teams are going to be out to get us this season and we’ve got a target on our backs as the premiers so we have to be better.

“We had a couple of players off their game and that’s all you really need at this level.”

Brett Foley was solid all day for the visitors, and received good support from Reed Chanter, but it wasn’t enough to get the win.

Despite the loss, Loughlin said there were high hopes of a successful season for the club this summer.

“We’re definitely going in confident, but not over confident,” he said.

“It’s very hard to win two in a row at this level, it’s hard enough just to win one, and we know what the competition is like. Every week is going to be a tough game.

“We’ve got to do it for 18 weeks to give us a chance to go again and that will start this Friday under lights at Deer Park, which I think will grow into a very healthy rivalry for the two clubs.”

Elsewhere, Yarraville-Footscray lost just one rink as it started the season with a resounding victory against St Kilda.

While the final rink of the day lost by just one shot, the other three put in commanding performances to lead the visitors to a 110 (16) to 63 (2) win.

The win has Yarraville-Footscray as the early competition leaders ahead of a match-up with Melbourne this weekend.

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