Bowls: Magnificent seven fires E&L to victory

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Edinburgh & Leith bowlers maintained the growing momentum of their Cities & Counties campaign for The Andrew Hamilton Trophy with a 124-106 victory (124-106) over Fife County in their East section match at Craigentinny.

Fife tend to be poor travellers – although they did beat Borders in their opening match – and lost by 34 shots to Midlothian, so the E&L support will be disappointed at the margin but the team did show resilience to overcome a sluggish start.

“We only showed one shot ahead (65-64) after 12 ends and I felt a bit concerned about that,” said E&L team boss Willie Watson. However, E&L suddenly clicked through the gears with a rapid response of 6-3 and 16-2 over the next two ends giving them a lead of 18 points and ahead on four of the six rinks.

On end 14, Robert Marshall conjured up the magic moment that sparked the E&L charge towards glory, with the Slateford ace expertly turning an opposition bowl out of the head for a magnificent seven-shot reward.

“The whole place erupted and with James Hogg, Paul O’Donnell and Mal Higgenbotham supporting the 7 with counts of 4, 3, and 2 respectively, there was an instant boost to our morale across the green,” said Watson.

O’Donnell, Marshall and Hogg went on to chalk up wins with their rinks and were joined in that respect by Willie McDonald, while Higgenbotham and team captain Billy Mellors both lost.

E&L made heavy weather of the first seven-end phase of the match but did manage to edge it 42-38. They then produced a more exciting passage of play to dominate the second, 45-31, before idling on the third and having to share it 37-37.

“I would have liked a stronger finish on our home territory but the job was done and I sense a stronger sense of self believe is returning to our ranks and, if that’s the case, then our future can be bright,” added Watson

O’Donnell looked an unlikely match hero for E&L when trailing 8-0 after three ends but the 26-year-old Bainfield star soon skipped Neil Watson, Ian Paterson and Paul Veitch on a run of 3, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, that accelerated them into a 17-10 lead over James Forbes.

O’Donnell and Co then included a strong finish of 2, 1, 1, (1), 1, 1 to clinch the headline 23-12 victory.

Marshall preceded his highlight moment of the 7 with an opening blitz of 3, 3, 2, and 2 to lead 10-0 and he went on to skip Alan Trotter, Brian Stoddart and John McDermott to a 27-17 win over Alan Hill.

McDonald produced a purple patch finish of 1, 3, 1 5, 2 to skip Andrew Caldwell, Alan Brown and Jamie Gracie to a 24-14 win over Steven Bone, while Scott Noble, Russell Wilson, Darren Hus and Hogg beat Raymond White, 20-16.

Fife caused pain with Wayne Hogg defeating Mal Higgenbotham, 28-15, and Stuart Bone beating Mellors, 19-15.