Bowls: Edinburgh & Leith pushed hard by Borders

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Edinburgh & Leith continue to lead the East section qualifying race in the Cities and Counties Championship as a battling 122-103 victory over Borders at Bainfield made it three wins out of four.

Success on the four rinks skipped by Robert Marshall, Paul Veitch, Mal Higgenbotham and Jamie Gracie tipped the match scales in favour of E&L. Paul O’Donnell and Darren Hush suffered defeats.

Manager Willie Watson dealt with the late call-off from ace player James Hogg by promoting Darren Hush to skip and, E&L’s strength in depth was illustrated by a player of the calibre of Willie McDonald being available from the bench.

E&L made an encouraging start to set up a 14-5 lead after two ends but received a mighty jolt on end three with Borders carding 11-2 to get back on level terms, 16-16.

Borders installed some anxious thoughts in the mind of opposition support by doing enough to edge the first seven-end phase 38-36, and that lead would have been greater but for Higgenbotham carding a super six for E&L on his seventh end.

The second seven-end phase was nip and tuck until end 13 with a 6-2 return enough to thrust the home side into a double-figure lead for the first time, 69-57.

E&L captured the second phase 38-26 to take a ten-shot lead into the final straight where Borders remained in the hunt until the home side answered the rising pressure with a gilt-edged count of 13-2 that put them firmly in the driving seat at 107-85.

Marshall contributed a mighty 5 that was inspirational on end 19 and then Gracie card a super six on end 21 that was much welcomed at a personal level having lost a six at the previous end.

Marshall did enough over the first 14 ends to skip Euan Craig, Gavin Smith and Colin Hutchison into a 12-7 lead, however, the five-end run that followed – carding 4, 1, 1, 1, 5 – set the home banking alight and accelerated the rink to a 24-9 win over Campbell McNeill.

Veitch picked from 7-7 to 13-7 with a run of 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, then, at 16-13, added 3, 1 to skip Stephen Pringle, David Fisher and John McDermott to a 20-13 win over Rob Nichol.

Higgenbotham answered pressure at 17-16 by reeling off a hat-trick of 2s to go on and clinch a 23-19 win over Rob Paterson while Gracie battled back from 7-13 after ten ends to steal a 25-24 win over Stuart Bebington.

Hush slipped from 16-16 to a 20-16 defeat from Stuart White while O’Donnell led 10-7 before losing 18-14 to Graeme Forsyth.