Bowls: Craigentinny start outdoor title defence away to Pilrig

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The change from indoor to outdoor bowls is now upon us and tomorrow night’s launch of the Alpha Trophies-sponsored Edinburgh Bowling League will see in the region of 1500 exponents of the sport parade their skills on the greens of the Capital.

The major spotlight will focus on the star-studded First Sixteen team of Craigentinny that swept all before them last season to capture the Division 1 title for the fifth time and in doing so completed a three-in-a-row.

Craigentinny need one more title to equal the record six of Tanfield so will be well fired up to retain their crown as they start their campaign with a visit to newly-promoted Pilrig.

Pilrig came up as champions of Division 2 and represent a tough challenge on their own turf but their backbone may prove to have been weakened by the decision of top player David Poole to switch his allegiance to Division 3 club Summerside.

“We travel to Pilrig without fear but with lots of respect for their tradition as it includes twice as champions of Division 1,” said Craig McCall for Craigentinny.

McCall is president of the club and captain of a First Sixteen that continues to be selected by Willie McDonald from last season who will have additional input from Gordon Bold and Kevin McFarlane.

McDonald and McFarlane also play leading roles as skips and are joined as helmsmen by former national junior singles champion Andrew Caldwell and former Tait Trophy hero Ian Paterson.

Teenager Josh Spalding is stepped up from the Seconds to the Firsts as the highly-praised 17-year-old builds on a learning curve that includes being a very worthy finalist in last year’s Scottish Junior Singles Championship at Ayr.

Spalding will play second to Stuart Betts, Gordon Bold and McFarlane while McDonald skips Daniel Gormley, Scott Duncan and Andrew Jeffrey.

Caldwell skips Darren Smith, Grant McLaren and Kevin Hunter while Craig McCall, John Shields, David Brown and Paterson complete the opening line up.

Gary Nisbet is an absentee due to being unavailable while former junior cap Robert Sloan – ex-Rock of Dumbarton – starts the season as a skip in the Second Sixteen.

Tanfield haven’t won Division 1 since their sixth success back in 2006 but finished in the runners-up spot so may be on the way back and will expected to make a winning start with home advantage over Hillside.

Alan Ross makes his debut at lead to Graham Munro, Robert White and Andrew Sneddon while David Snodgrass skips Jamie McIntosh, Peter Findlay, and Alex Thompson.

Graeme McIntosh skips Scott Wood, Willie Paul and Keith McLachlan while Stuart Mckean, Graeme Swan, Derek McLean and Stuart Campbell complete the line up.