Bowls: Laidlaw ‘lived the dream’ in her brave march to final

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Stacey LAIDLAW carried the Midlothian IBC banner into the final of the Scottish Singles Championship at Ardrossan and put up a bold show before losing out in a dramatic climax against East Fife’s Lynn Stein.

The 21-year-old bowler was bidding to match the title success of Scotland and Midlothian legend Jeanette Conlan, who brought the national title back to the Dalkeith stadium in season 1984/85 and was part of the crowded banking watching the final unfold.

Stein has won 33 caps on the trot since making her international debut in 2001 but Laidlaw stormed into a 5-2 lead after five ends. She continued to have her nose in front at 11-8 after 13 ends and was building good heads, but Stein, a skip at international level, and was able to take the sting out of Laidlaw’s place with superb last bowl action.

“I marvelled and admired the range of skills shown by Lynn under pressure,” said Laidlaw later. The main product of Stein’s style of play came when the final hung in the balance at 15-15 after 20-ends but finished abruptly as the East Fife champion carded a hat trick of 2s to hit 21. “I lost the first of these 2s when I cast the jack shorter than my best length and paid the price, although when Lynn gained possession she went full length with the jack and she dabbed it in the style of a true champion,” added Laidlaw.

“I was living a dream and ended up disappointed but it was no nightmare as I loved the experience. Hopefully I can go on and become a better player.”

Laidlaw’s dream was launched as a substitute for world stage legend Carol Ashby, who was the Midlothian IBC domestic champion, and she embarked on a qualifying run that saw her produce a major upset.

The form book didn’t give her much chance against Julie Forrest of Teviotdale when they clashed in the quarter-finals but the young holder of eight junior caps played the game of her life to eliminate the title holder and record five-times champion. She then beat June Marshall of Glasgow, 21-16, to reach the final.

Laidlaw also qualified in the Junior Singles but her opening game saw her lose 21-17 to Michelle Keenan of Dumbarton in the semi-finals.