Bowls: Edinburgh’s challengers show their mettle at Ayr Northfield

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Day THREE of the Bowls Scotland National Championships at Ayr Northfield was a successful one for Edinburgh challengers in the men’s singles with Robert Marshall and Gary Muir both surviving tough battles to make it through to the quarter-finals stage.

Gifford continue to have the Pairs title in their sights and West Barns stepped up the East Lothian challenge in the Triples while Loanhead MW in the Fours and Penicuik in the Seniors Fours sustain a Midlothian interest. West Lothian have been completely wiped out.

West Lothian do have something to shout about in the Ladies Championships however with Lorna Smith of Linlithgow and Angela Uttley of Blackburn still going strong, and Whitburn and Kinneil add a further presence in the Fours. The 
Edinburgh support have Hillside to cheer in the Pairs and London Road Foundry in the Fours while the East Lothian banner is represented by 
Cockenzie & Port Seton in the Pairs. A chilling morning breeze didn’t stop Robert Marshall of Slateford from making hot a start to blaze a 12-4 trail against his 39-year-old international colleague Ewan Shearer of Bo’ness in the top singles clash of the round.

But Shearer did manage to hang onto the coat tails of the 48-year-old Edinburgh icon figure with three singles and a couple of twos, for the loss of a 2 to take closer order at 14-11 with the Marshall double coming as the result of a smart chap and lie conversion.

Marshall carded a double, on an umpires measure, to stand 16-11 up after 17-ends then with three shots against him at the next thrilled the banking with a thunderbolt strike to burn the jack and after a second burn, this time by Shearer, the West Lothian spearhead figure collected a hard earned single to 12.

Shearer enjoyed an excellent spell that earned him a 1, 1, 2 reward to 15 then made the crucial error of casting the jack into the ditch allowing Marshall to change the mat and jack length to maximum effect as he picked up a full-house 4 to 20.

Marshall faced shot against at the next end but brimful of confidence he smashed a Shearer shot-bowl out of the head for the winning single. “It was great game for me to win as Ewan forced me to produce a high level of form,” said Marshall.

Meanwhile Gary Muir of Hillside made a confident 1, 1, 2, 1 start to lead David Crawford of Galston, 5-0, and the 27-year-old continued to play a steady game to look in a comfortable position at 17-12 up.

But Crawford, a winner of the Ayr Open on these greens, showed menace with a 1, 1, 1, 2 fightback to level at 17-17 before Muir, keeping his cool, won the battle to the line with a 2, (1), 1, 1, finish to triumph 21-18.

“It was a hard game to win and the breeze made the rink a bit tricky to conquer for both of us,” reflected Muir.

Alastair White of Kelso carried the Border banner forward with a 21-9 win over Michael Black of Carnoustie.

Last eight line-up: Robert Marshall v Kevin Anderson (Dumbarton); Kevin Bain (Hyndland) v Stuart Williamson (Stenhousemuir); Gary Muir v John Simpson (Dalzell); Alastair White v Iain McLelland (Dumfries).