Bowls: Bainfield line-up ‘as good as it gets’ against Balbardie

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With Stevie McLeod back in action and playing third to Paul O’Donnell, the Bainfield line-up against Balbardie, in Division 1B of the national indoor bowls league at the Hutchison Crossway stadium tomorrow, is considered by team manager John Bell to be at full strength.

The Bainfield skips are Robert Marshall, Gavin Smith, Colin Hutchison and Paul O’Donnell.

“This is as good as it gets,” said Bell.

Balbardie’s potential standard of play ranges from that of promotion to the Premier League to candidates for taking a plunge down to Division 2.

“We have to treat them as a serious threat,” added Bell.

Bainfield lost their previous match away to a Tweedbank team that went two points clear of them at the top of the table and tomorrow take on foot-of-the-table East Fife at Methil.

Portobello are also looking for a bounceback victory tomorrow and will have home advantage when tackling Headwell in Division 2B where both are joint leaders with Whiteinch.

Team selector Robert Wood has taken firm action following Portobello’s first defeat at the hands of Teviotdale, axing himself and BJ Smith while Ian Fleming gives way at skip and Euan Murray at third.

Two major changes include Chris Steven being promoted to skip and Willie McDonald returning at skip, and given Davy Brown and Ian Fleming as their respective thirds.

Murray will lead to Steven with teenager Dean Mackintosh at second while George Johnston is switched to play third to Andrew Caldwell. Stuart Betts at skip is given Scott Rogers at second and Gordon Bold at third.

Joint-leaders East Lothian go to Prestwick in Section A of the Premier League with a strongly formed team that is headed up by first-class skips in Alex Marshall, Graham Robertson, Scott Kennedy and Willie Wood.

West Lothian and Blantyre are also joint-leaders. They clash at the Inveralmond stadium, Livingston, with club champion George Sneddon still absent for the home side. Stuart Johnston returns at third to Mark Allison while Neil Speirs, Calum Logan and Thomas Mann (capt) are the other skips.

Midlothian enjoyed their first win in Section B of the Premier League against Turriff at Dalkeith and team manager Frank Gray is anticipating a further boost with the return of David Peacock from Cyprus.

But Peacock can’t make tomorrow’s trip to Aberdeen. Fellow internationalist Colin Walker also being unavailable.

Graeme Archer is back and Gray welcomes him to a seasonal debut at skip. He is joined at the helms by Willie Rankin, Willie Peacock and AJ Knight.

n THE Scottish challenge was left high and dry as David Gourlay and Paul Foster both lost out on tie-breaks to Greg Harlow and Robert Weale respectively in the Co-operative Funeralcare Scottish International Open.

No. 8 seed Gourlay won the first set 8-3 but Harlow stormed back in the second 10-5 to send the match into a best-of-three shoot-out which he won 2-0.

Reigning world champion Foster took the first set 9-3 against Weale but lost the second 12-8 and the tie-break 2-0.

In the other quarter-finals, Mervyn King and Robert Paxton both won to set up a replay of last year’s semi-final.