Fortunes for the Edinburgh challengers in the Bowls Scotland Championships that got underway at Ayr Northfield yesterday were very mixed however loud cheers were generated by the camp supporters with a double triumph in round one of the gents Seniors Singles.
Being a Past President of The Edinburgh Bowling League and one of its major sponsors made District 14 champion Roddy Watson of Dean sure of a vocal banking and he kept his support well entertained by delivering a dramatic 21-19 victory in a marathon 29-ends. Watson made a confident start to lead 16-10 against Leslie Stewart of Huntly but he started to dawdle in front allowing his opponent to cross to 19 with a run of 3, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1 before dashing to 21 with a 2, 2, 1 finish. Adam Melrose represented the Sighthill and District 15 banner in great style as he stormed to a 21-7 win in 17-ends having always dictated the pace against Alex Anderson of Inchinnan.
East Lothian’s Sandy Plenderleith of Gifford produced a real pulse racer as he escaped from the jaws of defeat to pip Joh Nicol of Rothienorman in a 21-20 thriller that lasted a marathon 29-ends. All looked comfortably well for the Gifford ace when leading 16-11 but he faced the exit door at 20-16 down before getting himself off the hook with a 2, 1, 1, 1 finish to 21. West Lothian won the title last year but made an agonising first round exit in this renewal with Bob McKay of Armadale staging a strong fight back from 12-18 to lead 20-19 but then conceded a double on end 22 to Jimmy Young of Milngavie.
Midlothian challenger Jocky Miller of Musselburgh recovered from 10-16 to 16-16 but was unable to follow through and suffered a 21-17 defeat in 26-ends from David Leitch of Balgonie.
It was a day of total calamity in the Ladies Seniors Singles with all five challengers fromEdinburgh and The Lothians wiped out and that means a shock exit for strong title favourite Lorna Smith of Linlithgow. Smith led 6-2 after five ends but collapsed to 13-6 down then still against the collar at 11-15 was poleaxed by a 3, 1, 2 finish from Irene Hannah of Greenfaulds.
Edinburgh’s Betty Eaton was edged out 21-19 in a 22-end thriller and the Beechwood star was joined on the sidelines by Jean Tough of Leith.
Holders Mary Price and John McDemott progressed in the Mixed Pais with a 23-16 victory.
Lorna Smith is the standout figure in the Ladies Singles field of the National Championships that swings into its mainstream action at The Ayr Northfield Bowls Complex on Thursday as the Linlithgow star is the three times in a row holder of the title. The pressure on Smith to make it an unprecedented four in a row is immense but her career profile shows that the one time World No1 thrives on such challenges. Her opening test comes Friday at 9am in the shape of Alex MacInness of St Ninians (Nairn).
The challenge from The Capital City is in the talented hands of experienced Beechwood ace Betty Eaton of District 15 and her District 14 counterpart Chloe Thomson of Tanfield who is an emerging star at 18 years of age. Eaton parades her skills on the 11am session against Julie McDowell of Maxwelltown while Thomson steps onto the green at 9am and faces Audrey Stewart of Canmore.
The District 16 and 17 champions in the shape of Midlothian’s Stacey McDougall and East Lothian’s Janet Fairnie are both talented campaigners of note. McDougall of Dalkeith BC, better recognised under her maiden name of Laidlaw has nine full Indoor caps also holds the Junior Singles crown and has won the Pairs so is no stranger to the big arena. She opens against Val McGregor of Lochelly at 11am while at the same time Fairnie of Castlepark faces Kirsty Sinclair of Polmuir.
The highest profile Pairs partnership from Edinburgh and The Lothians is that of defending champions Sandra Steven and Kirsteen McLelland of Uphall Station and West Lothian who are seeking a fourth title success in the event.
The Colinton banner is a regular sight at these championships down the years and that tradition is being maintained by Sandra Slater ( a former Edinburgh Open Champion) and Cathy Stark while Zandra Kinnear and Bunty Williamson of Goldenacre represent the other half of the Capital.
Sisters Emma and Lauren McNaughton of Gilmerton Private represent the Midlothian banner while doing battle for East Lothian are Mary Talbot and Reva Campbell of Longniddry.
Uphall Station launch their campaign at 12noon on Thursday whilst the others parade their skills on the 9am session.
The District 14 champions in the Triples are the Hillside trio of Lorraine Livingston, Cathy Ward, and June Woodall who have additional competitive experience gained from the EBL Women’s League.
Corstorphine are the District 15 champions and they also compete in the recently formed EBL womens event so Beryl Sutherland, Ellen Hay, and Theresa Blair come into this championship well primed.
Both clubs enter the national arena at 9am on Friday with Corstorphine facing Holytown and Hillside tackling East Lothian champions Margaret Nisbet, Maureen Lorimer, and Irene Robertson of North Berwick.
Buccleuch carries the Midlothian banner against Perth while West Lothian champions,Deans, face Blacklands & District – both on the 12noon session.
The Buchan Park Seniors Four challengers in the shape of Nancy Raeburn, Marguerite Bradbury, Margaret Kain, and Jennifer Sneddon get two bites of the cherry as they also carry the WL banner in the Fours proper.
Full cap experienced Anne Watson forms a strong backbone partnership at third to Alison Ross in the Bainfield rink completed by Susan Allan and Julia Fairgrieve while the otherside of the town is represented by Mary Harvey, Joa Neish, Sylvia Napier, and Frances Wood of Willowbrae.
Leanne Baillie is a prominent figure skipping the Cockenzie & Port Seton rink for East Lothian while Cathie Pender skips the Kirkhill rink for Midlothian.
The Junior Singles commences play on Saturday with the Edinburgh challenges in the hands of 20-year old Nicole McKean of Tanfield who is bidding to emulate the 2010 title success of Bainfield’s Mandy O’Donnell. Lisa Barrett of Kirkliston represents the West Lothian banner.