Edinburgh & Leith continue to lead the East section qualifying race in the Cities and Counties Championship having produced a battling team performance to deliver a 19 shot victory (122-103) over Borders at Bainfield.Read more
Win number three out of four was indeed hard fought against talented opposition and it was as late as the third last end (19th) before the capital city’s elite band of bowlers entered the comfort zone of a 22 shot lead. Wins on the four rinks skipped by Robert Marshall, Paul Veitch, Mal Higgenbotham, and Jamie Gracie tipped the match scales in favour of E&L and the small margin defeat of Paul O’Donnell and Darren Hush made the overall team performance a good one for manager Willie Watson. “Borders already had the scalp of last seasons section qualifiers under their belt so we were well primed to be on our toes against an opposition buoyed up with wins over East and West Lothian”, said Watson.
Watson dealt with the late call-off from ace player James Hogg by promoting Darren Hush up to the position of skip and bringing in a player of the calibre of Willie McDonald from the bench perfectly highlights the strength in depth enjoyed by E&L.
E&L made an encouraging start to set up a nine shot lead after two ends (14-5) but received a mighty jolt on end three with Borders carding 11-2 to get back on level terms (16-16). Borders installed some anxious thoughts in the mind of opposition support by doing enough to edge the first seven-end phase, 38-36, and that would have been a greater plus of two shots but for Higgenbotham carding a super six for E&L on his seventh end. Whilst the second seven-end phase continued to be fought out on a tightrope situation the scales were tipping ever so slightly in favour of E&L and end 13 became significant with a 6-2 return enough to thrust the home side into a 12 shot double-figure lead for the first time ( 69-57).
E&L captured the second phase, (38-26) to take a 10 shot lead into the final straight where Borders remained in the hunt until the home side answered the rising pressure with a gilt-edged count of 13-2 that put them firmly in the driving seat at 107-85.
Marshall contributed a mighty 5 that was inspirational on end 19 then end 21 saw Gracie card a super six that was much welcomed at a personal level having lost a six at the previous end. Marshall did enough over the first 14-ends to skip Euan Craig, Gavin Smith, and Colin Hutchison into a helpful 12-7 lead however the five end run that followed – carding 4, 1, 1, 1, 5 – set the home banking alight and accelerated the rink to a 24-9 win over Campbell McNeill. Veitch picked from 7-7 to 13-7 with a run of 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, then at 16-13 added 3, 1 to skip Stephen Pringle, David Fisher, and John McDermott to a 20-13 win over Rob Nichol. Higgenbotham answered pressure at 17-16 by reeling off a hat trick of 2’s to go on and clinch a 23-19 win over Rob Paterson while Gracie battled back from 7-13 after 10 ends to steal a 25-24 win over Stuart Bebington. Hush slipped from 16-16 to 20-16 defeat from Stuart White while O’Donnell led 10-7 before losing 18-14 to Graeme Forsyth.
Bellsburn came into The Co-operative Funeralcare sponsored Inter County Top Ten Tournament as minnows but the first time West Lothian champions continue to grow in stature and win number three at the weekend saw them secure a place in the semi finals. Concerns over the long and early morning journey to take on Argyll & Bute champions Campbeltown were consigned to the rubbish bin as Bellsburn quickly found their legs and produced a strong team performance to beat the locals, 6-2. Wins in the Triples, Fours, and Pairs were all inspired by unexpectedly strong starts and combined to overcome the early setback of spearhead figure Scott Middlemiss losing in the Singles.
Middlemiss was first off and having slipped from 8-8 to a 21-10 defeat in 21-ends from Archie Johnston might well have been an inspirational driver for the home side. Bellsburn’s first response came in the Triples and having made a terrific start to lead 10-1 the trio of Stuart Mackay, Jack Murphy, and Alan Murphy, absorbed later pressure to clinch a 14-10 victory. The Bellsburn rink of Gordon Snedden, Dave McQueen, Eddie Caulfield, and Simon Lamb saw an early 6-1 lead dwindle to 6-6 then just keeping their nose in front to reach 13-12 produced a heroic 4, 2 finish to triumph 19-12. The Pairs was last to finish and their 15-8 win clinched the match honours but the main applause for Sam Gray and Craig Yeaman came in response to an electrifying start of 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1 for a 10-0 lead that had the Bellsburn camp buzzing.