Queensberry bowls champion Tam Ebbs grabbed the headlines as the Tait Trophy continued with the quarter-final of the Edinburgh & Leith Champion of Champions event at West End BC.
Tait legends David McGill of Braid, Colin Mitchell of Carrick Knowe and Robert Marshall of Slateford were the crowd pullers in the field of eight but the name on the lips of the fans that streamed out of the venue was that of 40-year-old Ebbs, whose skills saw off the challenge of Bainfield champion Craig Paterson 21-14 after a 24-end battle.
Ebbs has won two championship titles since joining Queensberry from Civil Service BC and he has honed his skills playing in Division 1 of the Edinburgh Bowling League.
The clash at West End stood at 4-4 but Paterson looked good at 14-12 up. However, with a place in the semi-finals at stake, a spectacular five-end spell from Ebbs powered him to victory with a run of 2, 3, 1, 2, 1.
Willie Dyet, winner of the Tait in 1983, was in the crowd to support his Bainfield colleague and said: “Craig played exceptionally well but Ebbs always found something extra in his locker when under pressure and was very impressive.”
Meanwhile, Marshall stepped up his bid to retain the title with an easier-than-anticipated 21-11 victory in 20 ends over Mitchell.
“Neither of us produced a great spectacle for the banking,” admitted Marshall.
Keith Rutherford represents the Beechwood banner and he carried it forward with a confident performance to beat Kevin Jamieson of Gorgie Mills, 21-12 in 17 ends.
Jamieson made the better start to lead 5-0 and although caught up at 7-7 and then crossed by the loss of a 4, he showed promise with a good recovery run of 1, 1, 2, 1, to regain the initiative at 12-11.
But a dramatic transformation saw Rutherford storm to 21 with a whirlwind finishing run of 3, 4, 2, 1.
The heyday of McGill included the 1980 World Championships in Frankston Australia where he won silver in the Triples and bronze in the Singles. Now, some 32 years on, he is bidding to win the Tait for a sixth time.
And the champion of Braid turned back the clock with a battling recovery from 10-14 to beat George McNab of Dean 21-17 in 25 ends.
The semi-finals take place at Corstorphine tonight (6.15pm) featuring Ebbs v Marshall and McGill v Rutherford.