Bowls: Slateford ace Marshall off to Ayr after District 12 win

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The national arena at Ayr Northfield beckons once more for 48-year-old Slateford bowler Robert Marshall, who will parade his skills on the Singles stage for an awesome eighth time following his success in last night’s finals of the District 12 Championships played in front of a decent-sized crowd at Sighthill.

Marshall has 17 club championships and four Tait Trophy titles plus a 2010 appearance in the national singles final on a CV that he further enhanced with a 21-18 win over Halley Cockburn of Parkside in a final that lasted 24 ends.

Cockburn refused to be overawed by the vast reputation of his opponent and the 43-year-old champion of Parkside made an encouraging start to lead Marshall 8-5 then, when pressured at 10-10, responded with a run of 1, 2, 1 to 13.

Entering the dreaded bowler’s graveyard did bring problems for Cockburn and although staying trapped for only two ends it cost him a 4 and a 1 that saw Marshall gain the initiative at 15-13.

Cockburn carded a single to 14 but Marshall kept him on the back foot with counts of 1 and 3 to reach 19 before the Parkside challenger showed he was far from finished with a 2, 1 reply to 17. Marshall isn’t a panic merchant, which is just as well considering that at 20-17 he lay a solid head for the game but was denied by a bold and brilliant last-bowl draw to the nose of the jack that advanced Cockburn to 18.

“My nearest bowl was only one inch from the jack so to see Halley beat it the way he did was a real boneshaker, however I managed to ride that blow and card the winning single at the next end,” said Marshall.

“I came very close to winning the national title on my last appearance at Ayr and I my ambition has to be to go one step further on my quick return however it’s my bowls that have to do the talking.”

The winner’s applause in the Under-25 Junior Singles was soaked up by 23-year-old Dean Fleming of Currie, who may have lined up the slight underdog but turned in a tip-top performance to beat Stephen Pringle of Carrick Knowe 21-12 in 20 ends.

Fleming threw down the gauntlet with a run of 1, 2, 1, 3, 3 that accelerated him into a 17-6 lead and then traded comfortably on that cushion to reach Ayr for the first time.

Sighthill erupted into a cauldron of excited noise when the host club supporters hailed a winning 20-15 performance from their rink of David Connelly, Paul Noble, Gary Connelly and Alan Trotter against Whitehouse & Grange in the Fours. Trotter, whose late father Tommy carried the District 12 banner into the Singles final at hallowed Queen’s Park in 1985, hit the heights with a mighty count of 5 and a super 6 that suppressed the challenge of James McLennan, John Holburn, Ken Brown and Hugh Thomson.

West End lined up hot favourites in the Pairs and the partnership of Donnie Gilbertson and Moray Tait duly delivered as they cashed in on an 11-0 lead to score a 20-8 win over Scott Cumming and Stuart Clark of Bainfield.

Colinton dominated the Triples and in doing so brought more pain to Bainfield with Euan Gibson, John Fisher and David Fisher zipping into a 17-4 lead then stitching up Peter Ramsay, David McNair and Steven Pilley 19-8.

Bainfield did celebrate success in the Seniors Fours but that was guaranteed in a final that saw their B rink of Alex Lauder, Irvine Kemp, Jim Cowan and Joe McVey triumph 18-12 over the D clubmates Rab Henderson, Peter Stewart, Neil Butters and Adam Brock.