In Division 1, Team 1 travelled to face Murrayfield 4 who were still in contention for a promotion place, lying in third place. Team 1 played their top two for this fixture as Greig McDonell and Colin Green turned out together for only the 4th time this season. They were joined by David Melrose. For Murrayfield, it was good to see Stuart Wilson back in the fold as he joined Alex Asyunkin and Jamie Mullineaux, with Team Captain Lyn Somerville watching from the wings. Prior to the match, Ken Benjamin had made his Division 1 predictions which included a comment that he couldn’t see Murrayfield 4 winning their fixture against Team 1 – his first prediction was a good one. A 9-1 win for the visitors is a little harsh on the Murrayfield trio who competed well in most matches – that having been said only one match went to 5 ends as David defeated Jamie 11-9 in the deciding end. The hosts only victory was provided by Alex when he defeated David in 4 ends. Murrayfield’s third place is now under threat from Haddington who still hold some slim hopes of promotion themselves.
Team 2’s season in Division 1 was left in tatters after their loss to bottom of the table Corstorphine 2 in Week 23. They faced North Merchiston 3 at home and were a little deflated to see Blair Fowler boost the visitor’s chances as he made a rare appearance together with Graham Booth and Amelia Norbury. Given the form of both teams, this looked a dead cert away win but Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Charlie Brindley had other ideas! Charlie gave hope to the hosts in Match 1 with a cracking 5 end victory of Blair – although Blair has been out of the game for a bit there’s no doubting his quality. Match 2 saw Krzysztof take a 2-0 lead v Amelia before agonisingly losing the next three 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 and when Gary lost to Graham, the hosts fell behind. The key to this match, however, was both Charlie and Gary defeating Amelia – those wins kept Team 2 in it and when Gary also managed a terrific win v Blair, 4 wins were on the board. The doubles match was another nail biter as Gary and Charlie won 11-8 in the fifth to secure at least a point for the hosts. That point was converted to 2 as Krzysztof joined the party with a five-end win against the otherwise undefeated Graham. What a result for Team 2 – no one really gave them a chance especially with Blair in the team. 2 vital points for the hosts and more importantly some great TT played which will give the Team confidence for their last few matches.
In Division 3, Team 4 still have a chance of finishing 3rd in the Division after their convincing 8-2 victory against North Merchiston 5. Julian Taylor, Tony Brentnall and Sonny Taylor have had an up and down 2nd half thus far – their results against the top 2 teams have unfortuantely ended their promotion hopes. North Merchiston put up a good fight and the 8-2 win for Team 4 perhaps flattered a little. Matches 3 and 4 on the night were to prove crucial. First Tony came through in five ends and then from 2-1 down, Julian did the same and from that point on the hosts were never in danger. Tony had a good night, undefeated in singles play whilst Julian and Sonny both won two and combined for the doubles victory.
In Division 4, Team 5 were looking for a more straightforward night than in Week 23 where they had scraped past Haddington 5 as they travelled to face Murrayfield 10. John Bald, Craig Johnson and Stuart Bennett turned out for the visitors now clear in the knowledge that anything other than a perfect end to the season will not be good enough if they are to be in with a chance of promotion. When Craig lost Match 1 on the night in 5 ends and Stuart then went 2-1 down in ends in Match 2, alarm bells were ringing, however, Stuart managed to steady the ship with a five-end win before John gave the visitors the lead in Match 3. Further wins were then provided by Craig and John and after a doubles victory Team 5 held a 5-2 advantage. The win was then secured by John in Match 8 before Craig added a 7th win on the night in Match 9. Three wins for John, 2 for Craig and 1 for Stuart combined with a doubles victory resulted in the Penicuik trio emerging victorious by a 7-3 scoreline. The top 4 in the Division are only split by three points which makes the last 5 games for all very interesting!
Last week we paid credit to the remarkable run that Team 6 had been on - 13 points out of a possible 16. That run came to an end at Ladywood on Wednesday as Louis McLeod, Craig Linton and Rachel Petrie hosted 2nd placed Fife 4. At 2-0 and 3-1 up the hosts had their Fife opposition worried but from there, the Inverkeithing based trio won 3 matches in a row to take a 4-3 lead. Louis then levelled the scores with his third win of the night and at least a point was still a distinct possibility. Unfortunately, Rachel succumbed in straight sets to her opposite number before Craig made a great effort to beat top of the individual averages, Neil Hoggan. After losing the first two sets 11-9, 12-10, he gave Fife a real fright with an 11-7 win in the fourth. Alas for Team 6 he couldn’t quite convert in game 4 as he again lost by the narrowest of margins, 11-9. A 6-4 defeat for Team 6 with Louis again showing his class with an undefeated night in singles play, Craig adding the fourth win
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 24. This week’s undefeated players were Greig and Colin from Team 1, Tony from Team 4, John from Team 5 and Louis from Team 6. Well done to all of them, but none of them get this week’s award! Given the importance of the wins and the quality of opposition it’s a two horse race this week between Charlie and Gary from Team 2. Both had two cracking victories and combined for a doubles win which might yet see Team 2 survive in Division 1. Although Gary was voted player of the night by NM, probably as a result of holding his nerve for a 14-12 in the fifth win v Blair, Charlie lost an end less than him during the course of the night and was seemingly far better in the doubles (even though he says so himself)! – well done Charlie.
And finally, our controversy of the Week section.
Team 2’s match was a great victory, but our opponents had a bit of a complaint regarding the scheduling of same. Like many clubs these days, time is always an issue and given that we never seem to be able to get started until just after 7pm it’s very rare that we finish a match on one table given our 10pm closing. In this match, play moved on to two tables and then seemingly finished on three. The controversy? Young Amelia played three matches in a row (including the doubles) – that according to our opponents certainly had an effect on her – one of the main issues was the fact that she couldn’t get any coaching help in her last match v Charlie given that her teammates were also playing. That’s an issue we’ve had in the past and of course can arise when play is just on two tables given that your teammates may be involved on the other table (one playing and one umpiring). Did it really affect the result? Who knows? If the boot was on the other foot, we’d probably claim it had some affect. Until we can all get our own premises though this is always going to occur – unless of course we shorten the matches in some way – now there’s an idea for the AGM – certainly our Team 1 would have voted for a shorter format last week as David was battling away in Match 10 as the clock struck 10.45 pm in Roseburn Church Hall – when he asked for guidance at 1 end all it took all of our Team Captain’s professionalism not to say “just concede so we can get home tonight!!”
Only 4 or 5 games left for most teams as we go into Week 25.