FOLLOWING several weeks of activity, the Borders Top 10 competition came to a dramatic conclusion on Saturday.
Both semi-finals and the final itself were played out in Hawick with the first semi, between Melrose and Kelso, on the Buccleuch green, while on the neighbouring Hawick green, Wilton faced Chirnside.
Both matches started on time and early success in the four categories of competition went to Kelso and Chirnside. As weather conditions worsened, however, both games were abandoned and fears grew that they would have to be played out at a later date.
It was therefore surprising when the rain suddenly abated and the water on both greens evaporated enough to make further play possible. The question was whether or not the delay might affect any of the teams, but in the case of Chirnside there was continuing success in the fours and triples categories.
The singles, very often having a significant impact on the overall result, was very close and could have gone either way. Alan Brady of Wilton led Robert Patterson of Chirnside 12-9 and kept ahead until the score reached 19-16. Needing just two more shots for victory, Brady took two singles to give Wilton two points.
With the score in the fours and triples in favour of Chirnside, shots became very important and Wilton needed to close the gap for any chance of a win.
The Berwickshire men went on to win the fours by 21-7 and the triples by 16-10, giving them four points. Wilton now had to triumph in the pairs by 15 shots.
They did win, but only by 18-12 and with both teams gaining four points each, Chirnside won with a superior shot difference.
In the other semi-final Kelso lost ground overall, but were well ahead in the singles. At one point Tweedsider Alistair White led by 15-2, but Kenny Johnstone clawed back seven shots in two ends. White countered with five shots in three ends to need just a single for victory.
This took another four ends, but the win by 21-13 gave Kelso the first two points plus a useful shot difference.
The position in the other categories showed that Melrose would need to win all three to ensure a place in the final. They proceeded to take the fours by 16-11 and with the last ends in play were one shot ahead in the triples and were losing by two shots in the pairs. Another single in the triples secured the two points for ’Rose so a draw in the pairs would be sufficient. Melrose held the two shots needed, until Kelso’s Stuart White reduced this to just a single, and with his last bowl Melrose’s Ian Crawford only just failed to secure the second shot required.
Both winning teams moved across to the Wilton green for the final due to be played in the afternoon.
Chirnside were defending the Top 10 title won in 2010 and the right to represent the Borders once again in 2012. Both teams settled quickly and in the early part of the match there was little between them.
In the singles Patterson for Chirnside and White for Kelso appeared well matched and at 6-5 to Patterson, a long encounter looked likely.
On the next end Patterson gained a single and followed this with a full house of four. White replied likewise, but another four on the 12th end gave Patterson a 17-9 lead. Needing just four shots for victory it took Patterson another five ends of singles to win 21-10. This gained two points for Kelso and, more importantly, an 11-shot advantage.
In the fours, Chirnside’s D. Buglass, D. Gilchrist, D. Luggett and J. G. Black recovered from 10-9 down to win 16-10, while in the triples category G. Douglas, J. Mitchell and G. Forsyth were in control for much of the match and won 19-7. The only losers for Chirnside were B. Robertson and L. Mitchell in the pairs, but with three categories won Chirnside retained the Top 10 shield 6-2.
They will again represent the Borders in 2012 when they will hopefully have more luck than this year. They certainly have a strong 10 and are capable of going a long way in the competition.