DEE Hoggan and Rachel Sinclair history at the weekend by becoming the first-ever winners of the Hong Kong Classic Ladies pairs, writes Matt Osborne.

The newly formed Scotland duo headed for Hong Kong in the 2023 Classic.

The popular event attracts teams from across the world to compete in the singles event followed by the pairs competition.

Hoggan made the most of her opening experiences on the greens, qualifying for the knockout stages in the singles before bowing out in the quarter-final stage to Marisa Baronda of the Philippines.

Hoggan, of Tranent BC, and Sinclair, of Kingswood BC, Glasgow, then teamed up in the pairs.

A fixture congested two days of play saw the Scottish pair sitting pretty at the top of their section and they had secured their passage to the knockout stages with a game to spare.

The draw for the later stages would see them paired with the same countries that they had faced in the group stages.

A narrow fourth end tie-break win over Malaysia in the semi-final had already secured the Scottish ladies a place in history as they became the first Scottish ladies to make the final of the tournament.

East Lothian Courier: Rachel Sinclair and Dee Hoggan have been celebrating successRachel Sinclair and Dee Hoggan have been celebrating success

They would face the ‘Auld Enemy’ England, who, likewise, claimed their own piece of history in becoming the first English ladies to reach the final.

A slow start in the final saw the English pairing of Nicole Rogers and Harriet Stevens dominate as they raced to what looked to be a set capturing 6-1 lead.

A trade of singles saw the English duo hold a four-shot lead as they headed up the final end of the set.

Much to the disbelief of England, Hoggan and Sinclair, of Knightswood BC, played a near perfect end to snatch the set with a full count of six (9-7).

The loss of the first set looked to be haunting the English pair as they entered the second set and Scotland took full advantage, holding a 6-3 advantage as they made a run for the title.

Rogers and Stevens did re-establish themselves in the match and took the lead, 7-6, with just two ends to play.

Stevens tactically played her last bowl of end eight all wrong with just a single bowl against, pushing Hoggan onto the jack and leaving Scotland holding three shots with plenty of room for Sinclair to add a fourth.

However, a rush of a adrenaline forced her last effort all the way to the ditch.

The Scots held a two-shot advantage going up the last knowing a draw in the set would be enough to clinch the title.

A nervy exchange saw England holding a definite two shots with the possibility of a third.

Scotland conceded the two shots and looked to the umpire to resolve the third.

A rather fortuitous looking measure took place, and the Scotland bowl was turned out to the delight of Hoggan and Sinclair.

Scottish Playdowns

Meanwhile, in the Scottish playdowns, Midlothian hosted the national fours last weekend.

Both gents and ladies headed for a 9.30am start on Saturday; the gents pulling their scheduled afternoon game forward.

The ladies were involved in a back-and-forth exchange with Headwell in their morning encounter.

They found themselves level at end 11 and again at end 17 as the tie entered the championship ends.

A strong finish saw the ladies claim the win 21-16 and advance to the next round.

Abbeyview awaited the victors as they dispatched of holders and home side Midlothian in their opening game.

A rollercoaster of high scoring, slack ends and opportunities made for a spectators’ dream as the final card contained a one, two, three, four, five, six and even seven shots throughout the afternoon.

Abbeyview looked to be well in control and held a 25-20 lead as the tie entered end 19 before a double for East Lothian provided hope of a comeback.

East Lothian skip Emma Blyth played a match-defining shot to remove her opponents’ bowl and lie five shots and potentially hold a lead going up the final end.

However, Abbeyview skip and international team-mate Sophie McGrouther proved equal to the challenge, drawing the shot with her last bowl to ensure her side led 26-22 after 20 ends played.

A cat and mouse tactical battle took place at end 21 as East Lothian tried to manufacture four shots and the opponents looked to minimise any losses by tactically placing bowls on re-spots and to the rear of the rink.

Blyth had the last delivery of the match, a well-timed runner squeezing the jack onto the re-spot for a single as they lost out 26-23.

The gents enjoyed a comfortable morning against Balbardie, winning 23-8 at a loss of just six ends and advanced to the Sunday to face Teviotdale. Former Scottish singles champion and Borders legend Norman Amos rolled back the years to keep within touching distance in the early exchanges.

East Lothian began to dominate from the front and pushed on to record a 23-10 win and a place in the quarter-final.

East Lothian versus Tweedbank is quickly becoming a frequent fixture in the battle of the east section qualifiers with some memorable games over the last few seasons in multiple disciplines.

This proved to be the case again with the game level at 6-6 after eight ends and shots at a premium.

East Lothian won three ends in succession to force a three-shot lead before Tweedbank responded and once again tied the game up 10-10 after 15.

The rink was proving more than a challenge for conversion shots, with the back ends both scratching their heads on multiple occasion due to challenging runs in the carpet.

East Lothian once again pushed over the next three ends and held a four-shot lead with just three ends remaining.

A jack sprung to the rear of the rink offered the Tweedbank four the opportunity to score a multiple, only for Scott Kennedy to draw well off centre at his first attempt.

Billy Mellors replaced the shot after it was removed by Ross Nichol and Derek Oliver proved every bit equal to the challenge when Stuart White drew a front toucher to seemingly win the end.

Oliver removed the shot bowls with a trademark runner to convert to a match winning three at end 20 to progress to the national semi-finals.

They will face East Kilbride in Perth at the finals weekend, which is scheduled for March 29-31.

National trials

Meanwhile, the first of this season’s national trial teams have been announced, the Junior Under-25s.

Beth Riva and Emma Blyth have been called up to the ladies set up, while Lewis Betts, Aaron Betts, Dean Riva, Danny Stevenson, Kieran Dodds and Logan Kennedy will all make their way to the gents’ junior trial.

Both trials will take place on December 3 at Glasgow Indoor Bowling Club.


Finally, the East Lothian Senior brigade have made an incredible start to their 2023/24 league campaign.

They remain unbeaten at the top of their section with qualification from the group almost wrapped up in record time.

Having reached the halfway point of the season, beating their five opponents in the group, they kicked off the second half defeating Tweedbank 84-49 to move four points clear of nearest challengers Midlothian.

They headed to West Lothian yesterday (Wednesday) in their biggest challenge of the season so far, hoping to keep all momentum as they head into the business end of the season.