A JUNIOR bowls team bolstered by seven Moray youngsters has been crowned Scottish champions.
The 10-strong Elgin and Garioch under-16 squad rolled over their rivals at the Scottish Young Indoor Bowlers team championships in Falkirk to claim the trophy.
Elgin were represented by Matthew Stepney, Mark Wright and Craig McDonald in the triples and Charlie Wright, Georgia Bugden, Stephanie Buchan and Lee Mair in the rinks. Garioch were represented by Ronald McDougall in the singles and Kevin Murray and James McDougall in the pairs.
First up at the Falkirk Indoor Bowling Club was the semi-finals, where the Moray team took on a combined squad from Stirling and Fintry.
They got off to an excellent start with Ronald McDougall winning his singles match 21 shots to 5. James McDougall was not letting his brother take all the glory, he too won his match in convincing style 14 shots to 4.
Elgin’s triple, skipped by McDonald, had a very close match just losing by a single shot 9 shots to 10. The rinks from Elgin, skipped by Lee Mair, fared much better winning their match 16 shots to 11.
Each winning performance gained two points, with one point for a draw and match shots taken into account if the teams were equal on points. Should that fail to separate them, whoever won the singles event went through.
In the afternoon, Elgin and Garioch took on Midlothian Indoor Bowling Club in the final.
The match was very close right up to the last bowl. In the triples the Elgin three had difficulty finding the pace of the carpet and lost their match 7-15.
In the singles, Ronald McDougall had a very good game which was close throughout, but he managed to take the lead and maintained it to the end winning 21-17. Both team had two points but Midlothian were ahead on shots.
Next up in the rinks, the Elgin team had a great start and took a 12-1 lead playing long ends. When Midlothian took the jack they shortened the length which the Elgin team struggled to find. Midlothian came back into the match and the score was tied at 15 shots each.
In the last end of the rinks game, Stephanie Buchan drew a shot to take the lead, then Lee Mair added a second to win the match 17-15. Elgin and Garioch were now on four points to Midlothian’s two.
The pairs from Garioch had a close game. With only skip James McDougall to play his last bowl, indeed the last bowl of the competition, Midlothian were winning by two shots (9-7) and, more crucially, were lying the shot to win the final. McDougall played the perfect bowl drawing onto the jack with a forehand shot and moving it a matter of inches to take a count of three and winning his match 10-9. Elgin and Garioch thus won the final, six points to two.
All the players have to be commended for their standard of play, and bowls in Elgin and Inverurie is in good shape if this is the standard of young players coming into the game. The sport is no longer an old person’s game as these players are testament to, it is a game for all ages and abilities.
Moray’s Active Schools’ team has worked with Elgin Indoor Bowling Club over the past few years to develop links with local schools, and co-ordinator Roy McPherson said last week’s success shows the talent is coming through.
“Regular curriculum time sessions take place involving East End Primary pupils delivered by the club’s enthusiastic coaches,” said McPherson. “The coaching is always well received and a number of pupils have gone on to join the club as a result of the sessions.
“It’s brilliant to hear that some of these players are now competing well in national competitions.”
The club runs coaching sessions for young players on a Wednesdays from 4pm to 6pm and any child over the age of 9 years is welcome to have a go.