Cycling: Midlothian duo hold nerve to beat reigning champions

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Midlothian IBC celebrated the winning of a national title with the superbly balanced partnership of Stacey Laidlaw and Carol Ashby delivering success in the four-bowl Pairs final of the Scottish Indoor Bowls Championships at Coatbridge.

The final was finely balanced with two ends to play but a sizzling climax saw Midlothian clinch a 14-13 win over Sharon Leitch and Lorraine Malloy of Balbardie.

The Balbardie partnership were the defending champions gave it a great show to gain a hard-fought 11-10 edge after 19 of the 21 ends.

End 20 was of major significance with Midlothian producing an excellent build-up of the head and a four-shot reward thrust them into a 14-11 lead entering the last – their previous scoring efforts had produced ten singles.

“End 21 was a messy affair for me as I was affected by nerves and I was punished by Balbardie holding two shots but Carol came to the rescue by drawing the third shot and was good enough to capture the title by preventing an extra-end decider,” said Laidlaw. “I was over the moon at becoming a Scottish Champion for the first time and although Carol has England and World titles, she was also ecstatic as she was achieving her first national success north of the Border.”

Laidlaw – a 21-year-old who competed in the final of the national singles back in December – has formed a formidable partnership with Ashby who has won two World Singles titles and a World Mixed Pairs title.

“Carol is a great influence on my game and we have developed a mutual confidence in each other but the greatest benefit is that she has the nerve and the ability to cope with stressful situations,” said Laidlaw.

The semi-final action at Coatbridge saw Laidlaw and Ashby serve up a commanding performance to beat Leanne Furye and Caroline Ruxton of Arbroath 23-10.

Balbardie trailed Ann Marie Fletcher and Cathy Houston of Paisley 10-7 after ten ends but zipped to 16 with a run of 3, 1, 2, 3 and went on to stitch up the opposition, 20-16.

Meanwhile the SIBA have announced the Gents Premier League line-up for next season.

Section A: Bainfield, Coatbridge, West Lothian, East Lothian, Midlothian, and Falkirk.

Section B: Perth, Aberdeen, Lanarkshire, Paisley, Alloa and Blantyre.