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Victory at Balvenie Pairs for Forres Bowling Club's Alana Coutts and Dufftown's Ashley McDonald

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A blossoming bowls partnership is developing between Forres Bowling Club youngster Alana Coutts and Dufftown counterpart Ashley McDonald, writes Alex Porter.

Ashley McDonald (left) and Alana Coutts.
Ashley McDonald (left) and Alana Coutts.

The duo teamed up again for the Balvenie Pairs tournament in McDonald's native Dufftown and duly won the event.

They faced a challenge in the semi-final, Alana's mum and dad, Lesley and Paul. However, youth stole the show with an 11-9 victory.

Coutts and McDonald won the final 9-5. This caused a stir at Dufftown Bowling Club, as they had to go out and buy some chocolates to present to the winners instead of the sponsor's malt whisky!

Forres got off to a poor start in their Dow League campaign, losing both legs of their tie with Moray.

The home rink of Harry Sutherland, Brian Riddell, Paul Coutts and Dean Dobbs recovered well after trailing Joe Sammons team 9-1 five ends in. They won eight of the following nine ends to go 13-10 in front but then lost the final three ends to go down 15-13.

The away rink of Davie Petrie, Brian Caldwell, Gary Mackie and John Matthews suffered at the hands of Keith Aitken's side. Forres trailed 16-3 after nine ends and although they improved thereafter, they lost 21-8 creating a 36-21 aggregate win for Moray.

At the halfway point in the season, Forres are sitting in fourth spot in the Over-55s League table. Their latest result was a 5-1 victory over high-flying Moray 1.

After a tight opening seven ends, Mary Williamson and Davie Petrie hit Gary Cruickshank for a six on their way a 13-9 victory.

Hazel and Brian Caldwell were all-square with George Grant at 5-5 with seven ends played. The home couple won the next four ends, and eventually won 11-8.

Peggy Locke and Sam Morrison were also involved in a tight game, but looked like winning until losing four shots over the final pair of ends left them settling for an 11-11 draw.

A great Men's Championship game was witnessed as the 2019 Winner, Paul Coutts played last year's runner-up, Davie Petrie.

Three singles gave Petrie an early lead, before a maximum at the sixth end put Coutts 7-3 in front. A ding-dong contest tied at 19-19 after 21 ends but there had to be a winner, and Coutts scored a brace at the next end to await the winner of the tie between Brian Riddell and Roy Anderson.

Frank Byrne, in his maiden season as a bowler, is also through to a last eight tie against the 2018 champion, John Matthews.

Byrne trailed Derek Crosby 5-2 after a handful of ends, before winning five in a row to lead 12-5.

Crosby won five of the following half dozen ends to narrow the deficit to three shots. Byrne won three of the next five ends to progress.

Kevin McWilliam is also through to the quarter-finals after defeating Alex Porter, who started the better going 5-2 up, but a maximum at the seventh end put McWilliam 7-5 ahead.

At 11-11 McWilliam found his length and line and won six ends in a row to wait on the winner of the match between Malcolm Swinswood and the current champion, Dean Dobbs.

Hazel Caldwell is into the semi-finals of the Ladies' Championship after gaining her revenge on Mary Sobey, who put her out in the last four in 2021.

This was a great, tight game, with Caldwell 9-8 up after 11 ends before a maximum at the next end led to her racing into a 17-11 lead. Four ends later, Sobey had levelled it at 17-17.

Caldwell found her form again to win three more ends to finish it 21-17 and now plays either the current champion, Lesley Coutts, or Marjory McCarthy for a place in the final.

Wilma Petrie started brightly, going 7-1 up in five ends against Peggy Locke who pulled it back to level four ends later. Petrie won seven ends out of eight to finish it and progress to the quarter-finals.

It was a real 'Duel In The Sun' as Steve Gill and Derek Crosby fought out their President's Handicap on a hot afternoon.

Crosby got off to a great start, leading 12-5 after 11 ends and Gill got a maximum at the next end to get right back in the game.

It was neck-and-neck leading up to a climax at the 28th end. Both players required just one shot to reach their target. Gill played two superb shots, but Crosby's third bowl got in for shot.

Gill’s final bowl knocked the jack to the edge of the ditch, and he lay game but Crosby still had a chance as his opponent was about six feet away from the jack. His final bowl held a good line, but was just too heavy and ended up in the ditch to give Gill the game, and he will play Harry Sutherland for a place in the semis.

Sutherland, who won the trophy in 2007 and 2012, is through to the last eight again. He found himself 6-1 down early on to Ed Harris and after ten ends, Harris still led 11-4. Sutherland started his fight back, and, within five ends, was 16-13 ahead before going on to finish it.

The 2019 winner, Paul Coutts, and Brian Caldwell had a great match.

Caldwell won the first five ends to lead 9-0 before a maximum at the next end set Coutts off on a run, and he got the score back to 8-9. He lost the next four ends to trail 15-8 up but with the pressure on he responded brilliantly to win eight of the next nine ends to reach his target.

Coutts now faces a tie against the in-form Malcolm Swinswood for a place in the semis.

Gary Mackie will play Peggy Locke in the quarter-finals after a comfortable win over Hazel Caldwell, helped by a seven-end winning streak mid-game.

Brian Riddell took a three at the initial end of his W D MacPherson match against Malcolm Swinswood. However this match only lasted 12 ends, with Swinswood winning ten of the other 11 and he will face Marjory McCarthy in the quarter-finals.

Two of the Usher Cup semi-final pairs have been decided. Sheena Murdoch and John Matthews led Ed Harris and Mary Sobey 7-1 after five ends before the tables were turned over the next six ends, Harris and Sobey 11-9 ahead.

Murdoch and Matthews got back on track to win 14-12. Lesley Mackintosh and Malcolm Swinswood will provide the opposition after a comfortable victory over Billy Felton and Derek Crosby.

There was a nail-biting finish to the Men's Pairs match between Roy Anderson and John Matthews, and Frank Byrne & Derek Sobey.

A four at the penultimate end put Anderson and Matthews in the driving seat, but Sobey had the final bowl at the last end and already lying three, he drew a shot to get a four for a 17-16 victory and a match against Derek Crosby and Brian Caldwell next.

Ed Harris and Alex Porter are into the semi-finals, but not without a scare from Billy Felton and Dean Dobbs.

After a tentative opening four ends, Harris and Porter went on a five-end winning run to hold a comfortable 14-2 advantage. Even at 16-6 down, Felton and Dobbs refused to surrender and hit a five followed by a single to leave them with a chance at four down going into the final end.

Dobbs tried to trail the jack with his final bowl, but it was caught by one of Harris' bowls and it finished 18-12.

Alana Coutts is through to the semi-finals of the John Raffan. She was 8-1 up on Hazel Caldwell, a lead reduced to 13-8 before a maximum finished the tie.

Derek Crosby will play Gary Mackie in the quarter-finals after a marathon match with Brian Caldwell.

This match of low-scoring ends saw Crosby win six out of eight ends including a maximum, to lead 19-7 and take an eventual victory five ends later.

Gary Mackie has once again opened up a gap at the top of the Scott Cup table. He nabbed his second overall win of the season (he has lost just once in six outings) with the help of Marjory McCarthy and Sheena Murdoch. They were 10-1 up on Lesley Coutts after seven ends, before finishing the evening in style with a five.

John Matthews, unbeaten so far, and Harry Sutherland took advantage of the extended daylight hours winning seven ends, but only had seven shots to show for it! Sutherland's second half form secured the win.

Brian Caldwell led 8-1 with just four ends played against Stuart Robertson, who got back to within a shot before Caldwell finished strongly.

It was all-square between Paul Coutts and Dean Dobbs at half-time before a four at the last sealed Dobbs' fate.

It was 10-10 after ten ends when Alex Porter met Malcolm Swinswood. Swinswood pushed ahead, and though he was almost caught on the line, he remains unbeaten whilst the trophy holder has only won one in six.

Scores: G Mackie 23, L Coutts 6; J Matthews 16, H Sutherland 7; B Caldwell 17, S Robertson 11; P Coutts 16, D Dobbs 11; M Swinswood 15, A Porter 14.

Mary Williamson and Steve Gill won the Wednesday afternoon hat. They kept on the move, winning all four sets and losing just three single shots.

Brian Caldwell was going well enough until his wife Hazel - who never got on the move - beat him in the final set.

Ed Harris struggled with his team of beginners.

Scores: S Gill 27 up; B Caldwell 13 up; H Caldwell 13 down; E Harris 27 down.

Trevor Cooper, playing his first bowls at the club this season, and Derek Sobey won Thursday's Moving Hat-Night. The only time they lost was when they tossed a coin at the end of the first set.

A five at the ninth end put Stuart Robertson in with a chance, but he lost his final two ends.

Alana Coutts did a brilliant job skipping for the first time, winning three out of four. She was defeated by her mum Lesley in the other set, but got her revenge later in the evening.

After a five end winless streak, Ian Stewart won his last two ends to finish on a positive note.

Losing three fours spoilt Sam Morrison's card and despite a poor second set, Alex Porter was four up going into the final pair of ends but still managed to lose.

Trailing 7-0 after the first set, Mary Sobey recovered really well to lead by a shot at half-time. However she won just two of her second half ends.

After losing nine of 11 ends, Sandy Burgess was having a time of it but he did well to win his final set.

Lesley Coutts struggled for most of the evening, winning just five ends.

A correct coin shout was Marjory McCarthy's only joy.

Scores: D Sobey 13 up; S Robertson 10 up; A Coutts 9 up; I Stewart 2 up; S Morrison 1 up; A Porter 1 down; M Sobey 6 down; A Burgess 8 down; L Coutts 9 down; M McCarthy 11 down.

St Catherine's Road will be a busy area this weekend for the Tom Ross & Son's sponsored Forres Open Triples.

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