Midlothian ladies are on a mission to retain the indoor bowls Scottish Cup title they won in such grand style last season and the stars from The Dalkeith Stadium launched their 2016 campaign with a first round win over Balbardie at Edinburgh venue Bainfield
Wins on the rinks skipped by Stacey McDougall, Annie Rutherford, and team captain Shona Johnstone combined to clinch an 89-75 victory whose 14 shot margin of triumph seems to reflect a comfort zone achievement. The final outcome however does mask the prospect of a shock upset unfolding with Balbardie of Division 1 status holding a single shot lead after 17 of the 21 ends completed with the master scoreboard showing 63-62 in the underdogs favour.
That melting pot situation also looked to be bubbling in favour of a Balbardie team being driven by the momentum of having recovered from the setback of a 34-23 loss of the first seven-end phase. Midlothian rocked back onto their heels by an exciting 29-19 fight back from Balbardie on the second phase that put them in with a shout at only one shot adrift (53-52) going into the third and final phase.
Balbardie held their nerve over ends 15, 16, and 17 and boldly got their nose in front entering the final straight raising the question which of the two teams would be able to produce the grandstand finish needed to propel them over the winning line. The answer was delivered by Midlothian and in the spectacular style of a storming 27-12 blitz that destroyed the Balbardie dreams of capturing the scalp of the holders. Midlothian’s devastation of the Balbardie challenge was concentrated on just one of the four rinks and astonishingly it was delivered in the shape of a 15-0 crushing of the normally rock solid rink skipped by the formidable Sharon Leitch.
Third phase misery being inflicted on Leitch and her rink of Catherine Lochran, Catherine Shearer, and Kim Ross by the whirlwind 18-1 finish whipped up by Dorothy Millar, Janette Mcvicar, Annette Wilson, and buoyant skip Annie Rutherford. Rutherford and Co emerging as the hero figures for Midlothian having staged a remarkable comeback to win 25-24 from a hopeless looking 23-7 down after 14-ends.
Shona Johnstone delivered the anchor performance that kept the cup holders in the picture with the captain pressing on from 10-8 to skip Ellie Bortwick, Alison Plenderleith, and Margart porter to a 27-12 win over Delia Flannigan. Stacey McDougall skipped Lorna Goldsmith, Mary Brownlee, and Janette Conlan into a 12-4 lead then helped by a mighty 5 at end 18 returned a 20-16 win over Angie Uttley.
Sandra McLeish and her rink of Sandra Muir, Elaine Young, and Grace McGregor led 11-0 before slipping to a 23-17 defeat from Margo Duff. “Balbardie certainly asked questions off us and had us under pressure so it is uplifting that we came up with the right answers”, reflected team captain Shona Johnstone.