Bowls: Dynamic duo Laidlaw and Blair lead way for Lothians

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The Edinburgh and Lothian challenge in the playdown action of the Ladies 4 Bowl Scottish Pairs Championship faltered at the weekend with Midlothian performing best to reach the final of their section at Bainfield IBC.

Stacey Laidlaw and Carol Ashby brought the national title back to Dalkeith last season and the young lead was back defending the crown but with Gaynor Blair replacing the unavailable Ashby.

The duo won their prelim, first, and second-round challenges but fell to 2010 title winners Julie Sword and Lynn Stein in the quarter-finals.

Their prelim tie was down for decision at the Inveralmond stadium in Livingston. The opposition, Yvonne Nicholson and Margaret Murray from Portobello, were beaten 30-7.

Betty Johnston and Margo Duff of Balbardie IBC in Bathgate beat Jeanette Morton and Veronica Hislop of Alloa 25-17 to set up an afternoon clash with Laidlaw and Blair.

The first-round clash saw peels called at 11-11 after 15 ends but, having edged into a 13-12 lead, Midlothian produced the stronger finish in the shape of 1, 2, 4 to triumph 20-12.

Play switched to the Hutchison Crossway stadium at Bainfield, where Midlothian faced Gemma Forrester and Lynn Lees of Abbeyview, Dunfermline in the second round. The Midlothian duo led 14-4 after 11 ends but the nerve ends were about to twang with the abrupt loss of 2, 2, 2, 3, 1 putting the outcome into the melting pot at 14-14.

But Laidlaw and Blair once again proved equal to the challenge with a grandstand finish of 4, 1, 2, 1, to win 22-14 before losing the section final 22-17 to East Fife. The early results in the section at the Whiteinch venue in Glasgow saw last-end drama cause the 19-18 exit of Bainfield’s Mandy O’Donnell and Anne Watson in the prelim round to Falkirk.

West Lothian faced a 20-17 exit to West of Scotland. However, Emma Brown and Janet Fairnie of East Lothian had a bye into the first round where they beat Fintry 25-11 but their second-round match ended in an 18-12 defeat to Allander.

Semi-finals at Fraserburgh on Saturday, March 30: East Kilbride v Auchinleck and East Fife v Forfar.