Late surge of form in national finals leaves Hawick quartet walking on Ayr

Hawick's successful senior quartet
Hawick's successful senior quartet

Tactical manoeuvres were the order of the day as Hawick Bowling Club’s senior four marched on Ayr’s Northfield Greens and put all opposition to the sword last week.

Skipped by Bill Anderson, and featuring Robin Bell, Willie Wells and Less Clarkson, the over 55s quartet battled its way through to the final, following wins over Dumbarton (17-15), Stranraer (16-15), Rutherglen (17-7) and Bankfoot (23-7).

And, on a miserable wet Wednesday afternoon, the Buccleuch Road outfit claimed the scalp of Yarrow Recreation to become 2017 Bowls Scotland Senior Fours National Champions.

Seasoned campaigner Les Clarkson said: “It has been a fantastic experience from start to finish.

“We struggled a bit in our first couple of games but managed to come back right at the end to win them. I think this gave us confidence and we won the next two games more convincingly.”

Playing in horrendous conditions, the Hawick quartet found themselves eight shots down after three ends in their last match of the Championship.

“We managed to take a shot and get the jack back and decided to pull the mat up,” explained Clarkson.

“We had been using that tactic all week and it paid off. We managed to find different lines and it worked in our favour.”

From being 8-1 down, the Borders four cruised into a 15-8 lead and, despite being pegged back in the closing stages, held on for a 15-12 victory.

The triumphant seniors will now represent Scotland at the British Isles Championships at Leamington Spa next year.

Anderson and Clarkson were unable to repeat their success in the gents’ fours playing alongside Simon Spalding and Neil McCaskill.

Having played both their semi-final and final in the senior fours earlier the same day, the duo had little left to give come their opening fours tie against Zetland, which the team lost 20 shots to three.

Fifteen teams representing nine clubs from the Borders and Berwickshire travelled to Ayr for the week which, for many, is the pinnacle of the national bowling calendar.

A large contingent of local supporters also made the journey.

Eyemouth BC ‘s Liz Dickson and Campbell McNeil put on a sterling performance to make it through to the semi-finals. They beat Lanark (16-11), Balerno (12-11) and Crookston (17-16) before being put out by eventual winners Stonehaven (24-14).

Gala Waverley’s duo Liam Nicholson (Junior Singles) and Gary Thorburn (Singles) each put on inspired performances before exiting their respective competitions.

Rising star Nicholson had victories over Abbeyview (21-19) and Kirkholm (21-18) before losing out to London Road Foundry (21-13) in the quarter-finals.

Appearing in the National Finals for the first time, Thorburn suffered a nervy start in his first-round match against his Queensferry opponent but rallied, with the backing of the local support, to bring himself to within six shots before ultimately losing out 21-14.

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Spittal BC’s senior ladies four of Susan Lee, Isobel Dixon, Linda Renton and Margaret Douglas (skip) won their first two matches against Buckie Victoria (16-14) and Cardross (15-10) before losing out to Strathmiglo (18-14) at the quarter-final stages.

Lauder ladies Carol Davidson and Isobel MacRae made it to the second round, following a battling 15-14 win over Uddingston, before going down 18-13 to Calderbank.

Much the same fate befell the Gordon triple of Dave Johnston, Arthur Cossar and Nil Kellett (skip) who won 12-11 over Bellshill & Mossend before being ousted by Northfield 18-11.

Chirnside BC were represented in three categories. In the gents’ senior singles, Gavin Douglas went out in the first round to Stranraer (21-18), the ladies’ four of Lauren Douglas, Laura Purves, Kay Purves and Sheila Douglas (skip) were beaten at the same stage by Moray (27-8) while Lauren Douglas also fell at the first hurdle in the ladies’ junior singles to Stonehaven (21-13).

Other Borders players making an early exit were Kelso pair Stuart and Alistair (skip) White, beaten by Troon Portland (20-6); Hawick BC ladies’ triple Suzanne Spalding, Pat Brady and Alison Clarkson (skip), defeated by Errol 19-12; Berwick BC’s ladies single Margaret Robertson beaten by Baillieston 21-5, and Spittal BC’s senior single Sandra McLeish, who lost 21-19 to Upper Cowal.