Mal Higgenbotham survives close call in Tait Trophy

Andrew Ramsay was beaten by defending champion Scott Mackintosh (library pic)

Andrew Ramsay was beaten by defending champion Scott Mackintosh (library pic)

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Mal Higgenbotham survived a fine display from his Balerno opponent Jim Wight in last night’s quarter-finals of the E&L Tait Trophy at Wardie having coped with three burnt heads to win a 21-18 cracker in 25 ends.

The 44-year-old Tanfield champion is hunting his third Tait Trophy title, but came within an inch of suffering a shock defeat when Wight crashed the jack into the ditch with the score standing at 19-18 in favour of Higgenbotham.

Wight’s strike left the Balerno champion holding three shots for the match, but only temporary as unfolding drama saw the jack roll along the ditch and run out of play by an inch or so.

Higgenbotham dominated the replayed end to card a match-winning double to 21.

“There is no doubt I got out of jail when the jack failed to stick when entering the ditch with great force,” reflected Higgenbotham.

Scott Mackintosh holds the Tait title and the 43-year-old champion of London Road Foundry continued to impress with a 21-6 victory in 17 ends against 49-year-old Andrew Ramsay of Slateford. Ramsay, a former captain of E&L and winner of the Edinburgh Open, is a stalwart figure of the sport in the Capital but his failure to master the rink was punished severely by the consistent skills shown by Mackintosh.

Mackintosh lazed into a 9-0 lead then, when standing at 11-6, progressed to 21 with a run of 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1.

Grant Wilson of Juniper Green ended the challenge from George Czemartin of Tramways having picked up the pace from 6-2 down to cross 11-6. His superior consistency led him to a 21-12 victory in 20 ends.

Darren Hush earned the cheers of his Carrick Knowe support with the 41-year-old former national pairs champion recovering strongly from 7-1 down to score a 21-15 win over Brian Sinclair of Portobello in 24 ends.

Hush remained in arrears up to 11-9, but transformed the picture with a run of 1, 2, 3, 1 to cross 16-11 then, although being pressed at 17-15, he stepped up another gear to hit 21 with a 3, 1 finish.

“It was a big moment for me when at 12-11 up, but facing one against I targeted the shot bowl with a yard on turn out that rewarded me with a count of three to lead 15-11 instead of peels at 12-12 being called,” said Hush.