The Midlothian partnership of internationalist stars Gaynor Duncan and Stacey McDougall were in tip-top form to reel of an excellent hat-trick of wins and dominate the qualifying section of the women’s indoor bowls Scottish Pairs Championship played at The Inveralmond Stadium in Livingston.
McDougall, nee Laidlaw, came into the partnership as a super sub for fellow cap Kelly McDougall – currently in Australia, and is a former winner of the title having captured the coveted national crown as lead to glitzy world stage celebrity figure Carol Ashby in season 2011/12. Having received a bye into the first round proper the high-profile Midlothian challengers delivered impressive wins over Teviotdale, Fintry, and Abbeyview with the reward coming in the shape of a place in the Last Four stage at Falkirk IBC on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd April.
The opening challenge against Teviotdale was a massive one in the shape of 24 times capped Joyce Dickie and national treasure Julie Forrest (57caps) who reigned as national champions in 2004 while Forrest, the record six times Singles champion, was bidding for a fourth title in the discipline. Midlothian grabbed the initiative with an early run of 2, 1, 2, 1 to lead 11-4 then led 18-10 but came under intense pressure at 18-17 before conjuring up a magic finish of 2, 1, (1), 2 to clinch a 23-18 victory.
Fintry provided the second round opposition in the shape of Mum and Daughter Maude and Lauren McGowan who shaped up well in the early stages to hold a 7-4 lead after eight ends over a somewhat subdued Duncan and McDougall. However the picture was transformed in Midlothian’s favour by explosive counts of six and five on ends nine and 13 respectively, which contributed to an 18-8 acceleration that cushioned the late loss of 2, 1, 2 in a 21-17 victory.
The section final pitched Midlothian against Abbeyview (Dunfermline) challengers Gemma Forrester and Lynn Lees who had impressed against Stirling (34-6), and East Fife (20-13); but were to find Duncan and McDougall a different kettle of fish. McDougall skipped her lead into an early 12-2 lead then finding themselves on the graveyard figure of 13 on end 13 staged a sensational escape in the shape of a full house count of eight to have the opposition at their 21-7 mercy. The Midlothian partnership did stumble over the eight end run in but picked them selves up well enough to celebrate a 24-15 victory. The semi final draw pitches Midlothian against twice national champions Sharon Leitch and Lorraine Malloy of Balbardie (Bathgate) while it is Blantyre v Arbroath in the other.
The East Lothian banner was also paraded at the West Lothian venue but the challenge from Margaret Thomson and Yvonne Veitch was short-lived with defeat coming as the result of a traumatic climax at the hands of Perth. Prospects had looked rosy for ‘the garden county duo’ when leading 14-7 after seven ends against Susan Myles and Maureen Morrison; but Perth crossed to 19-14 with a strong run of 2, 1, 1, 4, 2, 2 with just three ends to play. East Lothian hopes soared to fresh heights with superb counts of 3 and 4 to lead 21-19 entering the last — but dropping a three cost them an agonsing 22-21 defeat.