Ardclach’s Ally Fraser underlined his credentials as Moray Province’s premier curling team this week, as he added the Open Knockout to his already burgeoning trophy cabinet to stand beside his recently bagged West League Division 1 silverware. Three open knockout wins in the last 4 years and five League titles in the last 6 are testament to the dominance of the Nairnshire lads.
On a sheet of ice that was as frustrating as it was bewildering, the Fraser rink’s greater experience , with Grant Fraser at lead,Neil Campbell at second and Neil MacArthur steady at three , eventually won out over a very young Andy Cameron outfit.
There were huge, unnatural swings and several run backs which made shot making difficult and unpredictable. After some early end sparring it was 3 shots apiece after 5 ends with Cameron’s young trio of Lilia Clarke, Owen Watson and Fraser Rankin drawing pretty well on ice that made hitting particularly tricky.The Ardclach team’s big competition experience now kicked in and third player Neil MacArthur managed to find a decent line for his down weight strikes to set up skip Fraser’s sixth end draw for 2 shots to edge ahead . In the seventh end, a couple of Ardclach right wing counters proved difficult to find and Andy Cameron’s last stone draw was just a bit heavy , running too far and leaving Fraser with a 3 shot steal and another Knockout Title to his name.
In the Province League, it was decision time in East Division 1 with all 3 title contenders involved and it was Forres’s Charlie Watt who emerged triumphant, completing the remarkable feat of reaching the summit of the League from the foothills of Division 4 in 4 consecutive Division winning campaigns .
Going into the title deciding week , Watt was only third favourite a point behind front runners Andy Cameron and Alan Campbell whose 6-6 draw gave the Forres rink their chance to snatch the glory and this they duly did with an 8-5 win over Dave McPherson.
At 4-0 down after the opening 2 ends and 5-2 behind after 5 ends, it looked like the Tennis Club lads were intent on spoiling the Forres party,but with Stuart Heppenstall and Lyall Pirie
drawing well and third player Gordie Kelly doing the business at three, Watt’s team counted 4 in the sixth and added a 2 shot steal at the seventh. It was now just a question of running MacPherson out of stones in the last end and after a couple of sticky moments it was skip Charlie Watt that removed the MacPherson counter to take the applause, the League Title and complete his fairy tale rise to the top of the Province pile.
The Moray Province season concludes next week with the Nicol Quaich, the annual showdown between Division 1 winners from the East and the West and gives newly crowned East champion Charlie Watt a tilt at serial winner,West champion Ally Fraser.