Bowls: E&L keen for first title in 12 years

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EDINBURGH & LEITH aim to etch their name on the coveted Andrew Hamilton Trophy for the first time since 2001 when they face Ayrshire North in the final at West Kilbride tomorrow (2pm).

E&L hope it will be third-time lucky after finishing second to Dumfriesshire in the final of the Cities & Counties Championship in 2004 and against Lanarkshire South last season.

The fact E&L have emerged from the competitive East section to reach back-to-back finals shows a vast improvement since the appointment last pre-season of Willie Watson as their first ever team manager.

Watson has brought stability and sharper focus to a pack that has developed a tremendous team spirit, but he knows that E&L have a tough fight on their hands tomorrow.

“We are tackling a top-class opposition in their own backyard and that brings with it a strong and more than likely vociferous support,” he said, “but E&L have shown great strength of character this season and I feel we have the skill and qualities to deal with a lion’s den environment.”

Ayrshire are the traditional giants of the Hamilton Trophy having captured the Cities & Counties Championship a record 15 times but the area has been less prominent since separating into North and South.

Their skipper, Paul Foster, captains a team tomorrow that, like E&L, is unchanged from the semi-finals.

n ARVEEN ARABSHAHI was well positioned to carry the banner of Craigmillar Park into the second round of the ABT Machine Tools-sponsored EBL Singles when leading Alex Bowie of Ferranti 15-14 at Brunstane last night.

Arabshahi was 14-5 down, but a 2, 3, 2, 3 saw him get his nose in front at the business end of the first-round clash. However, a lapse in concentration that saw him change the jack length from short to long caused him to blow it, with Bowie punishing the error to count a 3 to 17 then staying long at the next and hitting 21 with a 4.

Graham Flight of Dudley trailed 5-1, but took off with a run of 2, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1 to 11 then soared to a 21-7 win in 20 ends against Ian Sommerville of Tipperlinn.

Brian Duffus of Tramways was just a bit behind schedule at 15-14 down to Alan McKenzie of Brunstane at Postal, but got himself on track with a 2, 1, 3, 1 acceleration to 21.

Colin Hairs carried the Hillside banner forward at Leith with a 21-10 win over Graeme Hogg of Parkside in 19 ends.

Other results: Joe Blair (Corstorphine) 21, George Hayward (Merchiston) 15; Jim Robertson (Maitland) 21, Alex Howie (Portobello) 13; Walter Day (Leith) 21, Colin Fleming (Jessfield) 7.