Bowls: Marshall plan pays off as he cruises into Ayr showpiece

ROBERT MARSHALL will spearhead the District 12 challenge for national bowling title glory at Ayr Northfield next month after the 45-year old Slateford champion scored a spectacular success in last night's qualifying finals at Balerno.

Marshall came face to face with a dark horse in the shape of Merchiston champion Colin Cochrane but the seasoned international star didn't treat his opponent lightly and stormed to a 21-4 win in 12 ends.

Slateford competed in three of the six finals, with mixed fortunes for the Ramsay brothers. Andrew was a dramatic winner in the Fours but Gordon was a traumatic loser in the Triples.

The Fours final against Currie saw Andrew Ramsay skip Paul Headley, Mike Wilson and Mike Rae into an 18-13 lead over Tam Hill, Alan Buchan, Gordon Hill and Brian Telford with three ends to play. Currie raised the temperature with a 4 and a 2 to cross to 19 then lay at the last until a chap-and-lie conversion from Rae led to a single that took the game into an extra-end decider.

Currie again dominated the early build-up and held three good shots but saw their hopes of a trip to Ayr dashed when Ramsay targeted the jack and produced the match-winner with the score at 20-19. Meanwhile Slateford had looked good in the Triples with Gordon Ramsay skipping Dougie Martin and Bill Herd into a 12-8 lead over John Forsyth, Archie Priestley and Kevin Jamieson of Gorgie Mills.

But Gorgie Mills charged swiftly into a 14-12 lead with superb counts of 2 and 4 then in a thrilling climax restricted Slateford to a single on the final end to win 14-13.

The large turnout of spectators witnessed more exciting drama in the Pairs with Alan Scott and Alan Trotter of Sighthill slipping from 7-7 to 7-12 then hitting back with a run of 1, 2, 2 and 1 to edge out Ray Dorans and Donnie Gilbertson of West End 13-12.

West End carded a single to peels then, with all to play for on the final end, it was Sighthill who triggered the victory salute with a knife-edged single.

The highly entertaining night of drama continued in the Seniors Fours with the Mayfield rink of Ralston McKenzie, Norrie Holman, Davy Ross and Jimmy Dickson in the driving seat at 13-5 and 14-11 up on Carrick Knowe.

But Carrick Knowe still had a sting in their tail and their rink of Kenny Murray, Peter Anderson, Clive Glass and Ian Combe delivered it in the shape of a 1, 3 fight back to snatch a 15-14 victory.

Play in the Junior Singles brought celebrations to Juniper Green with Russell Wilson always in the driving seat. He converted a 10-4 lead into a 21-9 victory over John Wright of Whitehouse & Grange.