Midlothian gents made heart-thumping progress into the final of the indoor bowls Scottish Cup after surviving a dramatic tension-filled climax to beat Blantyre 6-4 on points in their semi-final at Falkirk.
An epic encounter went right down to the wire with the victory salute only being triggered after the final bowl had been delivered.
Wins on the rinks skipped by Colin Walker and Ronnie Duncan for Midlothian were matched by Blantyre triumphs notched up by Brian Irvine and Scott Bishop, leaving the final outcome to be decided by the superior match aggregate.
The final spotlight focused on Duncan – and his front three of Colin Cook, Jim Cullen and Billy Peacock – versus former World singles champion Stewart Anderson as the match lay in the melting pot with a match aggregate of 78-78.
Midlothian hopes were the first to rise with the build-up play putting them in the driving seat with the hold of a single shot. However, Anderson converted the advantage to Blantyre following a brilliant take-out.
Walker took to the mat for his final delivery and conjured up a magic draw that finished up cosily smothering the jack.
And Midlothian were left celebrating as Anderson’s final bowl of the match – an aggressive do-or-die effort – whizzed past the head having caused no disruption, sealing a 19-17 win.
“This semi-final was one of the greatest spectacles I have witnessed in bowls and a credit to the skills and spirit of both teams,” reflected Midlothian team manager Frank Gray.
Gray had faced a pre-match challenge with talisman figure Sandy (AJ) Knight forced out by an injury and a slight adjustment in positions saw Colin Cook come off the bench to play lead.
Walker was first to finish, skipping David Salkeld, John Stevenson and Lindsay Plenderleith into a 19-9 lead over Iain McLean then hold on to deliver a valuable 20-15 win.
Team captain David Peacock led 7-0 but later dropped a 5 to come under pressure at 17-11 down and in company with Ian Forbes, Ian Fleming and Scott Briggs suffered a 23-20 defeat from Brian Irvine.
Blantyre went 4-2 up on points when Scott Bishop cashed in on a 15-6 led to punish Scott Runciman, Craig Hodge, Andy Caldwell and Graeme Archer with a 23-20 defeat. However, Duncan and Co’s heroics saw Midlothian through.
Falkirk beat East Kilbride 8-2 in the other semi final played at Stirling.