E&L players hold nerve to reach final

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A sun that sparkled overhead and a fast-running surface at Broxburn gave Edinburgh & Leith the perfect conditions to excite their support with a superb 113-102 win over Lanarkshire West in the semi-final of the Hamilton Trophy, writes STEWART MEIKLE.

E&L faced a tough task against a team buoyed by eight straight wins but the bowling stars of the Capital proved equal to the challenge.

“We made a brilliant jump start of 9-2, 9-1 to lead by 15 shots and that sparked an immediate sense of high expectation,” said team manager Willie Watson.

It was never going to be easy against a talented opposition but E&L battled hard and led from start to finish, although a peak 
advantage of 18 shots meant they were never operating in a comfort zone.

In fact, E&L’s ability to cope with pressure was tested on several occasions including when their margin of lead was down to 5 on ends 7 (38-33), and 11 (56-51), then entering the final straight with only 9 shots in hand (86-77) after the 16th.

“I did suffer moments of concern but my guys just refused to fold and their combination of skill, spirit, focus, and resolve did great service to the E&L banner,” added Watson.

The rink honours were shared 3-3 but the wins chalked up by Robert Marshall, Willie McDonald and Paul O’Donnell more than covered the setbacks suffered by Paul Veitch, James Hogg and Mal Higgenbotham.

E&L added to their 38-33 edge on the first seven-end phase with a 41-28 domination of the second however the opposition were always a danger and demonstrated that with a 41-34 fightback on the third.

Marshall was the tormentor-in-chief and included a six-end run from 11-6 to 20-6 as the E&L star skipped Gavin Smith, Brian Stoddart and John McDermott to a 22-8 win over Fraser Stobbie.

McDonald added 2, 2, 3 to lead 10-3 then kept a cool head to skip Daniel Gormley, David Brown and Jamie Gracie to a 20-12 win over Alex Kelly.

O’Donnell made good progress from 6-4 to 15-6 then skipped Neil Watson, Craig Paterson and team captain Colin Hutchison to a 20-14 win over Gordon Prentice.

Veitch conceded a six early and lost 23-21 to Chris Bryden. Hogg lost 22-16 to Harry Meikle while Higgenbotham went down 23-14 against Bobby Brown.

E&L play Ayrshire North, who beat defending champions Lanarkshire South 122-109, this Saturday.