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Sutherland win back trophy

By SPP Reporter

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The annual fixture between Sutherland and Ross-shire Curling Provinces for the Bison Trophy was again amalgamated with the Richard Mackenzie-sponsored Ross-shire Province Bonspiel which was played last Saturday in the Inverness Ice Centre, where Sutherland’s curlers regained the trophy they had previously won in 2010.

Rogart Skip Nigel Murray was the Ross Bonspiel winner in 2010 and runner up twelve months ago. Relishing this type of competition once more, he took a second place but by winning both his games in the Bonspiel event he inspired Sutherland to recapture the Bison Trophy.

Murray’s rink for the day was made up by two Locheye curlers, Val Mackay and Alan MacKenzie, and Brora’s Roy Watson.

They beat last year’s winner Iain Fraser (Belmaduthy) 7-3 and followed up with a 14-2 success over Caberfeidh’s Ian MacIntyre.

Also contributing two wins and four points to the Sutherland cause was its match secretary and event’s sponsor, Richard Mackenzie, with his Locheye rink of Tony Watson, Christine Mackenzie and Ian H Ross.

In round one they had a one shot win over Billy Shanks (Strathpeffer) and followed up with a 7-3 second success over Neil Gillies (Killearnan).

Bringing the Sutherland points total up to twelve against Ross-shire’s eight points – each skip winning once – were the Sutherland rinks of Douglas Gordon (Skip) Heather McRae, Ian Monish and Willie McRae all Locheye, and Coreen MacRae (skip), Joan Fraser, John McHarg and Bob Baxter from Alness.

Murray’s bonspiel shots total came to plus 16, a distant eight shots behind the winner who has Sutherland Province connections. Ronnie "Hydro" MacDonald was a popular member of the former Brora Victoria Curling Club before his work took him to Ross-shire where he joined the Avoch club.

With his wife Gillian and daughters Nicola and Claire, they soon became prominent Ross Province curlers.

Both girls participated on the Scottish curling tour, with Claire eventually joining a Scottish junior championship winning rink in 2010 and going on to represent Scotland at the World Championships.

Presently holding a fourth place in the Ross Province A League championship, MacDonald has had no success in bonspiels until last Saturday when he ended his Ross-shire drought after persuading wife Gillian to make a comeback and play alongside the Ross Province Secretary Joan Maxwell and club mate Mike Burns.

MacDonald can look back to his last bonspiel win in 2006 with a fond memory when he came back to Brora for a day to take part in the bonspiel that marked the closure of the Brora Ice Rink.

His opening game last Saturday was against the Ross Ladies skipped by Marion Burns, wife of his third player Mike Burns, and together they demolished the ladies by twenty shots.

Carrying this big advantage into a tougher second game they came up against Belmaduthy’s Dave MacLennan, current leader of the Ross-shire B League Championship. MacLennan was beaten 9-4 for an overall unassailable total of plus 24 shots from two games to be victorious over Nigel Murray.

Murray had began in good form with first game 7-3 win over last year’s winner from Belmaduthy Iain Fraser, before bringing his final shots total to plus 16 with a second game 14-2 success over Caberfeidh’s Ian MacIntyre.

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