Saturday 3rd July brought us some typically Scottish summer weather as we competed in the showers for the Sleigh Cup. Traditionally an Event for Rinks, 20 players were split into 5 teams who played each other in a round robin format. The pre-competition favourites, according to the bookies, were Jonathan Davidson, Leonard Moorehead, Margaret Scott and Conor Malcolm and they looked good as they started off with a comfortable 9-4 win against Alan Richards, Robert Clarke, Lesley Alexander & Avril Wilson. The Richards’ quartet’s chances were effectively over after 3 rounds, a 7-7 draw in Round 2 was followed by the biggest winning margin of the day as they fell 13-1 to Billy Nisbet, Robert Moorehead, Gwenda Ainslie & Greig McDonell.
The Davidson quartet lost their round three match to the all-Ladies team of Isabel MacRae, Sandra Shackleton, Anne Clarke & Carol Davidson, and with Dod Watson, Alex Weir, Christine Elrick and Neil Craig having lost their opening match, only the Nisbet rink held a 100% record. They sat out round four and the only quartet that could make the last round of matches have any relevance to the overall result was the Davidson quartet – they needed a Round 4 win against Dod Watson followed by a win against the undefeated Nisbet rink in their last match.
The Round 4 matches saw the Richards and MacRae rinks battle out a 5-5 draw before Watson, Weir, Elrick & Craig pulled off the biggest surprise of the day with a whopping 11-0 win over the Davidson rink – and with that defeat their chances of the title had gone. Going into the final round of matches, Nisbet, Moorehead, Ainslie and McDonell could not be caught – a good job in the end since they lost their last match – according to Greig they just wanted to get inside before the rain got heavier and didn’t want to dishearten the others with an undefeated day! Second place was still up for grabs in a winner takes all match between MacRae and Watson and in a disappointing finish for the ladies, it was the Watson rink that ran out 10-2 winners to secure the 2nd place finish. Courtesy of their win against the overall winners, the Davidson quartet sneaked in for third place ahead of the ladies with the Richards rink bringing up the rear.
Well done to Billy, Robert, Gwenda & Greig.
The next weekend (10th July) saw our Mixed pairs Competition take place – despite a dodgy weather forecast, the competition was played in gorgeous summer sunshine and saw 8 pairings split into 2 groups for our first “non-drawn” competition of the season. Defending champions Alan Gilchrist & Avril Wilson were in confident mood looking for their 3rd win in five years, but their competition was derailed somewhat in their first-round match against Greig McDonell & Isabel MacRae as they fell to an 11-4 defeat. The other first round match in Section 1 saw Dod Watson & Sandra Shackleton fall to 14-7 defeat to husband and wife pairing of Jonathan & Carol Davidson.
The two undefeated pairings then met in Round 2 and it looked like one way traffic as Greig & Isabel powered into a 9-3 lead with 3 ends left to play. Suddenly, however, the Davidsons picked up a four and when the scored a single on the penultimate end they trailed by just 1. In the final end, it was Greig & Isabel who looked like underdogs – 3 down with four bowls left – Greig can seemingly very occasionally play a good bowl and with his penultimate bowl he moved the jack to lie 2 – Jonathan couldn’t respond, and an 11-8 win brought a huge sigh of relief from Isabel. Meanwhile, Alan & Avril got their day back on track with an 11-4 win ending Dod and Sandra’s chances of reaching the final.
In the other section, Lee Wilson & Christine Elrick started out with a good 8-3 win against Jane Stevenson & Neil Craig. The other match saw Margaret Scott looking to pick up the trophy for the 4th time since her debut in 1942 (Jings you are wearing well Margaret)! Her problem was that she needed a new partner – glory hunting Alex Weir answered the call and they squeezed home against Ian Hogarth & Sandra Fullerton by an 8-6 score line despite losing a 4 on the last end!
In the second round of matches Alex & Margaret continued their winning form squeezing home against Neil Craig & Jane Stevenson by a 6-5 score line. According to Neil, the match was stolen from him – Alex last bowl somehow ricocheting of about 6 other bowls to cut down Neil’s winning advantage to only a single! Lee & Christine looked unstoppable in their match against Ian & Sandra as they recorded the biggest win of the day, 16-4.
That set up a group winning decider and it was Lee & Christine who prevailed with a comfortable 6-3 win to see them into the final. In the 3rd fourth place play off, Neil & Jane recorded a 6-4 win leaving Ian & Sandra winless on the day.
Back in Section 1, Isabel and Greig were coasting in their last match – 9-0 up with 3 ends left to play against the winless pairing of Dod & Sandra, their final place all but secured – hang on a minute. Somehow, they managed to lose a 5 on the next end and a single on the penultimate end to lead by 3 going down the last – never mind though even a draw would be enough to see them into the final. Having never reached the head all game, suddenly Dod produced his best bowls of the day and remarkably the loss of a four on the last left Isabel & Greig shell shocked with a 10-9 defeat!
That opened the door for either the Davidsons or the defending champions Avril and Alan – with one end left to play Alan & Avril led 12-4 – they needed a 10-shot victory to progress to the final! Isabel & Greig couldn’t watch as the last end played out – a single by Jonathan & Carol saved their bacon as Alan and Avril just missed out on shot difference.
The final was a good match – the difference was Lee’s consistency, on several occasions turning losing positions into winning ones, no more so than in the second end – having picked up a single on the first end, Isabel and Greig were lying 4 as Lee’s last bowl brilliantly caused a 5 shot swing as he picked up a single – Christine played her part in the next and a 3 and a four followed. The match was effectively over but credit to Isabel and Greig for making the score respectable with 5 shots in the last two ends reducing the deficit to just 1 - a 9-8 victory for Lee & Christine – well done to them.