Balbardie triple make Scottish Championship semis

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The Balbardie trio of Andy Jenkins, Kenny Martin and Ewan Shearer emerged as surprise winners in the first stage of the gents indoor bowls Scottish Triples Championship played at Whiteinch.

Shearer and his front-two reeled off a hat-trick of wins to clip the wings of Stirling in the first round, Midlothian in the second round and Bainfield in the section final.

The reward is a place in the last four at Aberdeen over the weekend of March 25/26, where they face East Lothian trio Mark Johnston, Willie Wood and Derek Oliver.

It will take a giant-killing performance to win that challenge against three players of international repute, but the qualifying scalps captured by Balbardie will stand them in good stead.

Balbardie’s section final against Bainfield was a humdinger that the Edinburgh outfit should have won.

First-end drama saw Balbardie hold a single shot that was vulnerable to a take-out that would yield a six-shot reward to Bainfield, but their bullet-like strike resulted in a burnt end.

The replayed end was completely dominated by Bainfield, resulting in Shearer going to the mat with a full-house count of nine shots against him. However, the skip managed to cut his loss down to a four.

Shearer was then forced into more heroic action on end two where, with six shots against him, he played a brilliant bowl into the head that reduced his loss to a single.

More drama on the third end once again ended in pain for a Bainfield trio that saw their hold of five shots converted to one shot against, with Shearer continuing his spell of heroics with a perfect last-bowl draw that killed the lot. It was 5-1 to Bainfield when, but for Shearer, it would have been 20-0 and game over.

The single to Balbardie gave Shearer and Co the chance to change the jack length and the tactical adjustment worked wonders.

Peels were called at 11-11, then Balbardie carded a mighty five that thrust them into the driving seat.

Bainfield kept their fading hopes alive with successive singles that closed them to 16-13 entering the last end, but their qualifying fate was sealed by the loss of a double, clinching a fairy-tale 18-13 win for Balbardie.