Balbardie IBCs top notch double act of Sharon Leitch and Lorraine Craig (Malloy) produced a stunning escape to victory in their section final of the ladies Scottish 4Bowl Pairs Championship so kept alive their hopes of capturing the national crown for a third time.Read More
The title-winning champions of the 2006 and 2011 seasons launched their 2017 campaign in the playdown action at Glasgow IBC and captured the scalps of Alloa, East Lothian, and East Fife as they reeled off a hat trick of wins that qualified them for the Last Four stage at Aberdeen on March 25/26. However the 133 road miles between Bathgate and Aberdeen seemed several times further away than that when the Balbardie duo trailed 17-11 with just five ends to play in their section final against their fellow caps Julie Sword and Lynn Stein of East Fife.
The vastly experienced Fifers boasted a combined 81 caps (33 and 48) that dwarfed the respectable 36 of their opposition (9 and 27) and having established a 15-7 supremacy after 13-ends looked to have the measure of Leitch and Craig. What happened entering end 17 onwards to the 21st was a spectacular fight back of miraculous proportions with the Balbardie partnership storming to a nail biting 19-18 victory having whipped up a whirlwind finish of 3, 2, (1), 2, 1. Games between us in the past have always been close and hard fought and this occasion was no different however they will be gutted as we got the break of the bowls at the second last end to card two shots to 18-18 then Lorraine played a running bowl into the head at the last end and we came out holding the match winning single.
I suppose you would have to say that it turned out to be our day and carding four shots on end 14 not only kept us in the picture but fired us up for our successful fight back, reflected Leitch. Alloa had presented the first round opposition to Balbardie but suffered immediate damage with the loss of five shots on the opening end and that set the scene for Craig skipping Leitch to a confidence building 34-10 win over Maisie Scott and Maureen Wallace.
East Lothian loomed up as a real danger in the second round with Megan Kivlin and Emma Logan enjoying an impressive 24-13 win in the first round over Kimberley Dodds and Pat Johnston of Falkirk. EL set the early pace to lead Balbardie 8-5 after nine ends and although crossed they still represented danger at 14-13 down after 15 however a dominantly strong finish of 3, 2, 1, 1,2 saw Craig skip Leitch to a commanding 23-13 victory. The opposition to Balbardie in the semi finals stage comes in the shape Dumbartons Michelle Keenan and Emma McIntyre who edged Rosemary Hill and Laura Hall, 20-18, in their section final at Inverclyde.