Bowls: City pair Marshall and Muir survive National scares

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THE second day of the Bowls Scotland National Championships at Ayr Northfield produced intense drama in the men’s Singles with Edinburgh challengers Robert Marshall and Gary Muir both surviving dramatic matches.

Marshall – runner up in 2010 – lead Alex Higgins of Stranraer 9-6 but then sliced the jack to give away a single when holding two shots and the form dip that followed saw him slump to 17-10 down. The 48-year-old from Slateford battled to 19-15 in arrears before a run of 1, 1, 3, 1 run saw him survive 21-19.

“Alex played extremely well but missed a couple of chances to put me away so I was a bit fortunate to escape from jail, but I did manage to up my game at the crucial stage of the match,” reflected Marshall, who was today facing his 39-year-old international colleague Ewan Shearer of Bo’ness. He played a steady game to progress at the 21-11 expense of James Fernie from Cupar.

Muir – the 2010 finalist in the Junior Singles – was involved in a topsy-turvy game against Derek Murray of Rosehearty.

The 27-year-old from Hillside led 9-6, was crossed 10-9 then made space to 15-10 and took on the look of a surefire winner at 20-11, however, Murray hit back with a run of 2, 2, 1 to 16.

End 20 was completely weird with Muir ditching all of his bowls to lose a 4 that brought sweat to his brow and that of his tormented supporters at 20-20.

Murray turned the screw with a confident build up of the 21st head to hold two cracking shots then, for some reason, was too bold with his third bowl and squeezed the jack to a Muir bowl.

Muir still had to survive a bold last-bowl effort from Murray to retrieve his situation but the man from the Moray Coast missed his jack to the ditch attempt by inches.

“My nightmare at what became the penultimate end almost cost me the match however Derek’s nightmare at the last cost him a place in the second round,” summed up Muir.

Ronnie Duncan is a class act representing the Midlothian banner and the Bonnyrigg star turned in a sparkling display to clear a difficult hurdle in 
21-12 style against Alex Kelly of 

East Lothian challenger 
Ronnie Branley of Cockenzie & Port Seton suffered a five-end barren spell that cost him a 17-9 deficit and despite the hint of a revival with a 2, 2 reply he went down 21-13 to Aaron Hazel of Polmaise.

Two notable challengers outwith the Lothians to make progress were Alistair White of Kelso who beat Stephen Murray of Twechar MW, 21-13, and Kevin Anderson of Dumbarton who beat George Wilson of Skelmorlie, 21-15.

Pilrig faced a bleak outlook at 6-0 down in the Triples but the trio of Graeme Hislop, Keith Mitchell and Scott Noble hit back with a run of 3, 1, 4 then, in a battle to the line, edged 
a 12-11 win over Newarthill.

West Barns carried the East Lothian banner to a 23-6 win over Muirhead & Birkhill however Colinton (David Fisher), Newbridge (Thomas Mann), and Loanhead MW (Graeme Archer) all crashed out.