Royal Burgess keep title hopes alive

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PLUCKY Royal Burgess kept alive their hopes with a “best of six” performance, but have been warned they don’t scare Duddingston after the semi-final line-up in the Edinburgh Summer League was finalised.

Winners for the last five years, Royal Burgess followed up their great escape in the qualifying campaign by booking a last-four spot with a stunning 6.5-2.5 win at six-times champions Kingsknowe.

It earned the Barnton men a September 1 clash against unbeaten West Linton at Ratho Park, while Duddingston, who secured the last semi-final berth with a 5.5-3.5 home win over Baberton, face Bruntsfield Links at Ratho Park on the same day.

Still in the hunt for another title triumph despite losing four of their first six games, Royal Burgess are clearly growing in confidence in the Pollock (Scotrans) Ltd-sponsored event.

But, after moving a step closer to a ninth success in the event, Duddingston are confident they won’t live to regret a golden chance to prevent Royal Burgess from making it to the knock-out phase.

“Our top six players were missing when we went to the Barnton,” said Duddingston team manager Chris Reid of a 6-2 win for the hosts that put them through in second spot in Section A at the expense of Silverknowes.

“We’d beaten them quite comprehensively at Duddingston earlier in the season, so we wouldn’t mind meeting them in the final, though our first task is to try and beat Bruntsfield Links.”

Bidding to claim the Capital crown for the first time since 2006, Duddingston have already lifted the Lothians Team Tournament this year.

“Everything has just come together this season, partly due to young guys like Conor Scott, Cameron Hay, Stuart Hogg and Stuart Knox all stepping up to the plate,” added Reid.

“They’ve helped create competition for places alongside the likes of David Miller, Mike Armstrong, who never gets beat, and two good role models in Gary Thomson and Derrick Williams.

We’ve got a full team available for the semi-final and it suits us that it involves more players than the qualifying campaign as we’ve got strength in depth.”

As their recent success in the event shows, the same certainly applies to Royal Burgess, who delighted team manager Richard Hughes with their victory at Kingsknowe.

It stood 3-2 in favour of the visitors after the first five matches had finished – Gary Malone and Allyn Dick putting points on the board for Kingsknowe and James Ross, Gordon Archibald and Varun Varadharajan doing likewise for Royal Burgess.

The next three matches were all square at this point but experience in these situations served the Barnton side well as John Yuille, John Fraser and Brian Tait delivered a combined two-and-a-half points before Fraser McCluskey also weighed in with a win in the anchor match.

“In my opinion, this was the best performance by a Burgess side in my six years in charge,” declared Hughes.

“In that time, no sectional runner-up who has had to play away from home in the quarter final has ever progressed to the semis. My team did it with some style and I could not be more proud of them.”

Looking ahead to the semi-final, he added: “I’m a great admirer of the West Linton side who have been so consistent over the last three or four years.

“It promises to be a great match, played in a great spirit, and we are looking forward to it immensely.”

• Results

Kingsknowe 2.5, Royal Burgess 6.5: G Malone bt S Buckley one hole; S McCulloch lost to J Ross 5 and 4; P Page lost to G Archibald 3 and 2; A Dick bt S Phillips 2 and 1; A Rowe lost to V Varadharajan one hole; D Munro lost to J Yuille two holes; A Mackay lost to J Fraser one hole; G Fraser halved with B Tait; M Cairnie lost to F McCluskey 3 and 2.

Duddingston 5.5, Baberton 3.5: C hay lost to D Waugh; D Miller lost to C Malone 2 and 1; G Thomson bt S Marshall 7 and 6; S Knox bt M Riddell 4 and 3; C Scott bt C Purves 3 and 2; M Armstrong bt A Laurence one hole; D Michie bt R Bradly 6 and 5; S Hogg halved with A Macphail; J Shepherd lost to S Scott 2 and 1.