Fiona Ewen and her Fochabers rink of Jodi Best,Anna-Louise Fraser and Christine Wood have won the Province Rosebowl with a convincing win over Nairn Ladies’ perennial finalist Fiona Steel. In a rematch of the 2019/20 final, Ewen more than made up for that previous disappointment with a solid all round 11-3 victory. The big swings on both hands may have caught out the Nairn girls who play all their curling out of Inverness,but a well worked second end 3 gave them early hope of another trophy. Thereafter however, Ewen’s front end of Wood and Fraser were instrumental in setting up good positions leaving Best and Ewen herself to either guard counters or chip up front stones.
It was a story of getting a shot in early and then defending the position and Ewen’s team had this down to a tee frequently leaving Steel nigh on impossible last stones , trying to get to opposition rocks via a front curtain of protecting stones. Probably the shot of the night,was Ewen’s remarkably bold angled back weight chip out of an opposing stone lying in second position for a 2 shot count in the fourth end.A further three 2 shot steals propelled the Fochabers team to a win that was actually much more competitive than the final margin might suggest.
In the Open Knockout semi finals it was one win apiece for East against West and so the final will be between two Moray Province curling legends. Alan Durno for the East and Mike McInnes for the West.
McInnes’ match against Andy Cameron hinged on the second end when Cameron’s team missed two takeouts for his opponents to lie 3 shots guarded. Andy’s last stone draw only succeeded in promoting a front stone to give McInnes a 4 shot steal and a 5-0 lead. A single and a stolen 2 gave the Aberlour team a comeback sniff but 3 shots was their final tally as handshakes were exchanged at 7-3 with McInnes lying another 2 shots as Cameron ran out of potential game winning stones.
Ali Asher never quite got to grips with the swing on his sheet as the wily Clochan farmer Alan Durno, throwing lead stones and skipping, guided his quartet to another Province knockout final. With Dad Alan , a first sighting of the season from son Neil and Matthew Smith all playing a canny drawing game and fourth player Mike Watt tidying up, poor Asher could never get any ends built up and found himself playing tricky shots to save ends and merely pick up a single. One apiece after two ends, the game was all but over with a well executed 3 shot count in the third for Durno and then in the fourth , Asher played a hit and lie against 3 opposing counters but sat open leaving Mike Watt the same shot to lie 3 again. Ali now needed to repeat his first shot for a single score but was a touch light and wicked off a guard to lose a 4. 8-1 was too big a deficit to make up and after an exchange of singles the teams left the ice for a quick getaway and their bedtime hot chocolate .
In Province East League Division 2, Abby Duncan finally lost his first points of the season in an 8-6 defeat by Mike MacDonald. Regular rink caretaker Gordon Fraser’s previously unblemished record took a knock as stand in caretaker Tony Duncan, though winning 5 of the 8 ends played, lost a 4 then a 3 to the cunning Forres tactician.
Charlie Watt jnr played the shot of the night as his angled double take out left his Aberlour opponent Jim Gault with no more than a last end single as Watt won 6-4.
Alan Durno and Bob Stewart had a battle royal with the Clochan Farmer racing to a 6-1 lead before his Elgin counterpart hit back with consecutive 3’s to lead by 1 going down the last.
A remarkable , big swinging draw to the button by Fochabers’ fourth player Mike Watt saw his team claim a share of the spoils in a 7-7 peel.
Katie Gordon’s Moray Juniors meanwhile were giving Jodi Best’s Buckie newcomers a severe lesson as 4 consecutive scoring ends saw the youngsters run out convincing 11-2 victors.