Scotland’s ambition to win the Hilton Trophy for a 33rd time got off to an encouraging start, with the defending champions scoring a commanding 30-shot victory (131-101) over Wales in the opening match of the indoor bowls Home International Series at Stanley IBC, County Durham.
The 24-strong Scotland team included 14 players from the region in the shape of East Lothian sextet Willie Wood MBE, Graham Robertson, Scott Kennedy, Billy Mellors, Derek Oliver and Jamie Higgins, West Lothain quintet Neil Speirs, Thomas Mann, Calum Logan, Mark Allison and Bryan Cooper, Midlothian duo Ronnie Duncan and Colin Walker and Bainfield’s Colin Hutchison.
A strong team performance from Scotland was reflected by wins on four of the six rinks and a start-to-finish domination of the major scoreboard that was enhanced by an early 9-0 clean sweep across the carpet on the second end to lead 17-7.
No more clean sweeps were achieved over the span of the 21-end match. However, there were two major uplifts to team spirit in the shape of spectacular 18-2 and 16-2 returns on ends seven and 14 respectively.
Scotland made a strong start to build an 51-33 lead over the first seven-ends. They were then unable to punish Wales extensively, but performed well enough to capture the middle phase 41-34 and the last one 39-34.
Speirs was the top contributor, starting well to skip Cooper, Martin Willamson and Mann into an 18-11 lead. He then reeled off a run of 1, 2, 4 in a strong finish to beat Mark Harding 29-12.
Walker and his rink of Higgins, Wood and Iain McLean stretched from 14-9 to 22-9 with a run of 1, 1, 1, 5 and finished up 28-16 winners over Damian Doubler, while Stewart Anderson included a super six at end seven as he skipped Gary Hutchison, Logan, and Kennedy to a 26-18 win over Robert Chisholm.
Darren Burnett, with Allison at third, moved to 23-7 with a run of 1, 5, 2 and celebrated a 24-16 win over Daniel Salmon. However, M Stepney, with Hutchison at second, suffered a 23-9 defeat by David Kingdon.
Oliver, Duncan, Robertson and Mellors stood peels at 4-4, 7-7, and 11-11 before being edged out 16-15 by Jarrad Breen.