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Murray books semi-final place

By SPP Reporter

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Sutherland Province League
Sutherland Province League

Joint leaders in the race for the Sutherland Province league title – Rogart’s Nigel Murray-led rink – booked their place in the semi-final of the Knock-out Cup last week with a strange result over Hugh Mackay’s North Highland Curling Trust rink.

Mackay, the reigning league champion, has been struggling at the foot of the league table without a win but reached the quarter finals of the cup with a bye from Loch Fleet.

But with past Province President Allan MacLennan fit again, and given the skip’s stones on his first Sutherland outing of the season, it gave a boost to the NHCT curlers. Mackay dropped to third place, Kinlochbervie’s Angela de Boer played second and Ross-shire’s Alan MacDonald led off.

MacLennan had already re-found his form 24 hours earlier when he led his home Invergordon club rink to victory in Ross-shire Province’s Allangrange KO Trophy final, but with the NHCT curlers he stuttered to losing an opening triple.

His immediate response was four shots to go into the lead, but then it must have been a long time since the former Scottish senior champion lost six shots in an end but his catastrophic loss in end three turned the game on its head.

Rogart, with Joan Fraser, Colin Wilson and Hamish Fraser, then lead 9-8 after a second four shot end from MacLennan before an exchange of single shots took Rogart into the final end with a one shot lead.

The Rogart skip finished with a double for the winning result of 12-9 and line up a semi final tie against Locheye’s second rink.

Alan MacKenzie was the Locheye skip with three lady members backing him up, his mother Christine, Heather Macrae and Val Mackay. Alan Munro, with the Ross/Sutherland Young farmers, stood in the way of the Locheye second outfit progressing. When the more experienced Locheye curlers took a treble in end two and increased their lead to 5-2 by the fifth end there was no way back for Munro.

After watching their first rink falling, the NHCT second skip, Richard MacKenzie, with Duncan Clark, David de Boer and Kathleen Mackenzie floored Kathleen’s husband, Russell, and his Dornoch club curlers with a salvo of five shots in the first end, then added five more to their card before Dornoch’s first response in end five.

The final score to take the NHCT rink into the last four was 11-4.

In the semi-final, NHCT’s opponents will be a resurgent Coreen Macrae. The Alness skip had her best night on the ice this season with her teenage daughter, Rachel, leading off ahead of John McHarg and Brian Weaver. They never conceded a shot or end in their “grannie result” over the hapless Douglas Gordon who was given the skip’s role of the Locheye first rink.

In a quick return to the ice after the Hogmanay celebrations, the semi final ties will be played on Tuesday, January 3rd. Before then there is a round of league matches on Monday (December 12th).

Results: Knock-Out Competition quarter-finals – N Murray (Rogart) 12 H Mackay (NHCT1) 9. A MacKenzie (Locheye 2) 6 A Munro (RSYF) 3. Richard Mackenzie (NHCT 2) 11 Russell Mackenzie (Dornoch) 4. C MacRae (Alness) 15, D Gordon (Locheye 1) 0.

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