Larne Bowling Club faced their toughest assignment of the season so far on Saturday when they travelled to fortress Gilford, to face defending champions Dunbarton in Private Greens League Division One.
The home team had made their usual strong start to the campaign and Larne rarely gain much from this fixture, so a good performance would be essential.
It turned out to be a great game which went right to the wire. Unfortunately Larne, despite only losing on one rink, succumbed to a creditable five-shot defeat, but came away with two-and-a-half points nonetheless.
Michael Murphy found himself under the cosh for much of the game, trailing 1-10, and 6-16 with five ends to go.
The home four played well throughout and probably edged the rub of the green on a tricky end rink. Michael lost 8-24 but his men never gave up and battled all the way.
Brian Smyth and Chris Snoddy dominated the front-end play to give David McRandal a comfortable game. Chris, in particular, was excellent throughout the 21 ends as David’s quartet led from start to finish for a 23-14 success.
Alan McLean’s four seemed to have blown their point when they went from 12-8 up to 12-19 with just six ends to play. A brilliant finish, however, including counts of five and a last-end three, saw Alan elated to snatch his point 23-21.
Andy Kyle had a good day and seemed to be coasting to his point with a 17-10 advantage. The home rink came back strong to take a two-shot lead going into the final end. Andy held his nerve and drew an excellent last bowl to score 2 for a 20-20 draw.
There were many positives to take from the game but it was Larne’s first defeat of the season, so they will want to bounce back quickly.
Dunbarton 77 (4.5)
Larne 72 (2.5)
Rink 1: M. Trainor 24; M. Murphy 8
Rink 2: DJ Wilson 12; D. McRandal 21
Rink 3: C. McCartan 21; A. McLean 23
Rink 4: M. Greenfield 20; A. Kyle 20
Next up: Larne v Ulster Transport (Sat. May 23).