Bowls: Carrick Knowe stretch their lead at the top of First 16s

CARRICK KNOWE have stepped up the pace in their quest to retain the Water of Leith First Sixteens bowls league title having increased their lead at the top of the table to a daunting 10.5 points over nearest challenger Sighthill.

Last year's first-time champions are a team with immense strength in depth and even away fixtures present few problems as evidenced by their latest 5-0 crushing of Balerno.

"The last thing we want to do is start counting our chickens but the general feeling within our camp is that we can only chuck it away on the six-match run in," said spokesman Colin Mitchell.

Match 12 showed no signs of such a collapse with the rinks skipped by James Hogg, Darren Hush, Richard Tough and Mitchell all performing solidly as a team to record comfortable wins over their Balerno oppositions.

Sighthill were also away winners but dropped valuable points in their 3-2 success at Gorgie Mills and even third-placed Slateford with their strong home record had to settle for a 4.5-0.5 victory over Beechwood.

Juniper Green's progress up the table was halted in disappointing fashion as they suffered a 3-2 home defeat from an unpredictable Bainfield team that now occupies fifth place in the table.

Sighthill are the front runners in the race for the Second Sixteens title but dropped a point in their 4-1 home win over Gorgie Mills.

Bainfield are the chasing team but failed to make any headway with their 4-1 home victory over Juniper Green and are still looking at gap of 8.5 points.

Carrick Knowe's prospect of landing a First and Second Sixteens title double have become even more remote after suffering a 1.5-3.5 defeat at home to Balerno. That leaves them a hopeless 13 points off the pace.