Bowls: Midlothian Ladies given fright by Balbardie

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Midlothian Ladies are on a mission to retain the indoor bowls Scottish Cup and they launched their 2016 campaign with a first-round win over Balbardie at Capital venue Bainfield.

Wins on the rinks skipped by Stacey McDougall, Annie Rutherford and team captain Shona Johnstone combined to clinch an 89-75 victory.

The final result, however, masks the fact there was a real shock unfolding as Balbardie of Division 1 held a 63-62 lead after 17 of the 21 ends.

Balbardie had recovered from the setback of a 34-23 loss in the first seven-end phase to fight back in the second to sit just one shot adrift (53-52) going into the third and final act.

The Bathgate-based team held their nerve over ends 15, 16, and 17 and boldly got their nose in front entering the final straight.

However, Midlothian hit back in spectacular style, storming to a 27-12 blitz that destroyed Balbardie’s hopes of capturing the scalp of the holders.

And the damage was done on just one of the four rinks, delivered in the shape of a 15-0 crushing of the normally rock-solid rink skipped by Sharon Leitch.

Third-phase misery was inflicted on Leitch and her rink of Catherine Lochran, Catherine Shearer and Kim Ross by the whirlwind 18-1 finish whipped up by Dorothy Millar, Janette Mcvicar, Annette Wilson, and buoyant skip Annie Rutherford.

Rutherford and Co emerging as the hero figures for Midlothian, having staged a remarkable comeback to win 25-24 from a hopeless-looking 23-7 down after 14 ends.

Shona Johnstone delivered the anchor performance that kept Midlothian in the picture with the captain pressing on from 10-8 to skip Ellie Borthwick, Alison Plenderleith and Margart Porter to a 27-12 win over Delia Flannigan.

Stacey McDougall skipped Lorna Goldsmith, Mary Brownlee and Janette Conlan into a 12-4 lead then, helped by a mighty 5 at end 18, returned a 20-16 win over Angie Uttley.

Sandra McLeish and her rink of Sandra Muir, Elaine Young and Grace McGregor led 11-0 before slipping to a 23-17 defeat from Margo Duff.