Bowls: Downie and Hutchison go in search of more glory

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BAINFIELD duo Chris Downie and Colin Hutchison, still basking in the glory of winning the Scottish 2-Bowl Pairs title, are back in the limelight this weekend as they bid to claim the national 4-Bowl Pairs crown.

The playdown action that leads to the last four stage at Coatbridge next March takes place at four venues nationwide today and tomorrow, with the Bainfield champions headed for a first-round clash against Teviotdale at Midlothian IBC.

The opportunity to land such a distinguished double is hard earned as the challengers have to win their club title first and the Downie/Hutchison partnership achieved this as recently as Tuesday night when defeating Paul Millar and Robert Marshall in the domestic final.

Bainfield team manager John Bell said: “These chaps are in red-hot form at the moment and are on an enormous high. They have an obvious chance of doing well but they know the title will not just fall into their lap and that the opposition will be strong.”

The known dangers to the Bainfield champions at Dalkeith include the young internationalist partnership of Cameron Greer and Calum Logan but first the West Lothian champions could have their hands full against near neighbours Balbardie. Ewan Shearer skips Ian Drysdale for the Bathgate-based club in that clash while the section also includes the Portobello challenge in the shape of experienced campaigners Keith Adamson and Colin Hairs. East Lothian and Midlothian both have high expectation for their respective champions but their qualifying challenge takes place at Stirling and the Downie/Hutchison partnership will be pleased by that initial body swerve.

Mark Johnston and Willie Wood MBE carry the banner for East Lothian and have a bye into the first round proper while full caps Ronnie Duncan and Colin Walker of Midlothian open in the prelims with a tough-looking test against Lanarkshire. The ladies 4-Bowl Pairs shares the billing with the Gents over the weekend and their action embraces Forfar, Cumbernauld, East Lothian and Galleon as the venues.

The Midlothian camp will be cheering a particularly strong partnership in the shape of the promising talents of junior cap Stacey Laidlaw and World stage legend Carol Ashby, who has made her mark at Dalkeith since moving up from England.

East Lothian open against Coatbridge in the prelim round at Cumbernauld, while, at the same venue, Midlothian face Galleon in the first round proper. Holders Sharon Leitch and Lorraine Malloy represent Balbardie and open against East Fife at East Lothian while Jean Elder/Alison Keegan of Bainfield and Izzy Dixon/Irene Gray of Portobello also line up at the Tranent venue.

Junior Caps Jenifer Richardson and Lisa Barrett fly the flag for West Lothian IBC.