Match 1 saw a comfortable win for James against Clive. That was followed by a 4 end victory for Iain against Abby who gave Iain a fright and had she won the fourth end with the couple of game points she had who knows how the fifth would have gone. Team 2 restored their advantage when Gary defeated Brian in 3 straight ends. When Abby then defeated Clive in Match 4, a surprise result looked on the cards. Clive looked out of sorts and feeling unwell he conceded his last match to Gary and when that was followed by a win for James against Brian, Team 2 looked in complete control at 5-1 up. Iain kept Team 3 alive with another 4 end victory over Gary before the crucial doubles fixture. With Clive out of the running, Iain combined with Brian to take on Abby and Gary - the match looked over as Abby and Gary claimed the first two ends 11-8, 12-10 putting them one end away from an unassailable 6-2 lead. But then something miraculous seemed to happen to Iain and Brian who somehow managed to find their form when most needed as they stormed back to to win the next 3 ends bringing the scoreline to 5-3. The last two matches were played simultaneously - Abby v Brian and Iain v James. Abby had defeated Brian in 3 straight ends in the first half of the season but Brian called upon his 87 years of experience to play some terrific table tennis to defeat Abby in four ends. The final match of the night was a classic which swung one way then the other, James won the first end before Iain won the next two only for James to win the fourth. It was fitting that an excellent match be concluded by a final end shootout. In a tense finish Iain looked in trouble but somehow found a way to win by the tightest of margins 11-9 thereby securing a brilliant comeback for Team 3. Another draw - a fair result?? Definitely a better point for Team 3 than for Team 2 who continue to struggle to turn match winning positions into victories.
Away from the derby match, Teams 1 & 6 were also in action at Ladywood. Team 1 of Greig McDonell and ..... eh no one else actually turned up in the snow to take on defending Champions Murrayfield 1 - Gow and Green trying to protect their averages perhaps?? Of course with the ruling that a one player Team is effectively a concession, Greig spoiled the night for Team 6 by taking Luke Hennessy out of their match against North Merchiston, leaving an already understrength Team 6 (missing Louis Mc as a result of his broken ankle) with an even more difficult task.
In the end, Luke enjoyed the experience of playing against the "big boys" and the highlight of the night must have been the doubles where the home duo took the first end from Calum Morrison and John Hannah and had two game points in game 4 to send the match to a deciding fifth end - proof if ever it was needed that despite what Aussie Green thinks, Greig is a masterful doubles player who always manages to get the best out of his teammates!! Greig won the solitary match for the home side on the night as Murrayfield ran out 9-1 winners.
Team 6 saw mother and son duo, Rachel (stepping up form Team 8) and Louis battle against North Merchiston 6 in Division 4. Both defeated different opponents deuce in the fifth end as they fell to an 8-2 defeat and El Presidente takes partial responsibility for that!! Mum went home in a slightly better mood than son, however, as she was awarded player of the night.
Also in Division 4, Teams 7 and 8 were in action. Without Craig, Team 7 called on the services of Martyn Levy in their away match to North Merchiston 5 to join father and daughter duo, Stuart and Millie. 2 of Stuart's three singles matches went to five ends but the only winner on the night was Millie in the resulting 9-1 defeat.
Team 8 travelled to Fife in the snow and with Martyn continuing his busy week, this time joining Lewis Baldock and Kathryn McKenzie. All three players won 1 singles match on the night and Kathryn was unlucky not to win her second match losing 11-8 in the deciding end as Team 8 went down to a 7-3 defeat.
Player of Week 16? Only one contender really - it has to go to Iain Johnstone for his performance in the derby match - not only did he win his 3 singles and hold his nerve to win the tightest of final matches against James, but he also somehow managed to get the best out of Brian, 70 years his senior, in the crucial doubles match - Brian by the end of the night was seemingly feeling like a 60 year old again. Well done Iain.
Controversy of the Week this week? The saga of the Handicap Cup match between Penicuik and Murrayfield was eventually put to bed it would appear at a League Committee meeting - not sure we even knew it was on the agenda - but seemingly it was discussed and Ken Ben had the task of making the final decision on the matter - with the scores at 4-4, the match had of course been conceded by us resulting in a Murrayfield victory. The view taken was that it would set an unwelcome precedent, for both Cup and League, to allow matches to be concluded on a different date and the result therefore stands. Thats not really the most controversial thing to happen however. To prove the point we have made over the last few weeks of Brian's changed character, his response by email was in the following terms:-
"Thanks again for your kind attention. We agree with your decision - an invidious position to have put you in, really. If anything, the decision was Murrayfield's to make and I'm not sure that we would have offered to play on later, in their position. So no hard feelings - the match was very enjoyable and played in good spirit."
What has happened to Mr Bailey??!! Magnanimous is his new middle name!