Edinburgh & Leith produced a solid team performance and led from start to finish to beat West Fife by a handsome 36 shot margin (140-104) at away venue Abbeyview (Dunfermline) in the Cities and Counties Championship.
It’s a result that keeps E&L at the top of the table of the East section although equal on points with East Lothian who are 60 shots adrift, both teams making the pace with 4 wins out of five. E&L’s visit to West Fife had a tough look about it with the Fifers on a winning roll so team manager Willie Watson is well pleased at the winning away performances on the rinks skipped by Darren Hush, Robert Marshall, Paul Veitch, and Jamie Gracie. Two rinks did fail to achieve supremacy over their respective opposition however the margin of defeat inflicted on Mal Higgenbotham and Paul O’Donnell was slight and raise no cause for alarming concern.
It has to be said that it did take E&L a long time into the game before they reached the comfort zone associated with a 20 shot plus lead (the 15th end) then they slipped back to 16 before rocketing to 36 with an explosive finish of 9-1, 10-5, and 9-2. End four produced the first positive signal of strength from E&L coming in the shape of an 8-2 count that pushed them into a 10 shot lead (27-17) however two ends later they were down to one (36-35) and under pressure from a competent the home side. In an entire game of no clean-sweeps it took an 8-2 on end nine to push E&L back into a double figure lead of 13 and the swift addition of 10-5 showed the visitors hitting a high of 18 up (68-50) on the master scoreboard. End 15 was not a high scoring one but significant with the 7-2 count in favour E&L moving them onto their strongest position yet with a 23 shot lead ( 98-75) suggesting that victory was indeed going to be theirs. The phase scoring does reflect the all the way grip E&L had on the game, capturing the first seven-ends, 45-38, then making steady progress to win the second, 46-35, and the third, 49-31.
Darren Hush earned the match plaudits as the highest up rink – skipping Josh Spalding, Stuart Campbell, and Robert Donaldson to a 14 shot win over Kenny Bald. Hush & Co blitzed the opposition with a run of 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 3 that crossed them into a 19-6 lead after 13-ends then coming under pressure included the blaze of glory finish of 2, 1, 5 to cap an inspirational 29-15 performance.
Marshall continues in good form and the icon figure skipped Euan Craig, Gavin Smith, and Colin Hutchison to a 24-12 win over Jim McGuire having made space to 13-7 with a run of 3, 3, 1 then firing up E&L temperatures with a sizzling 3, 4, (2) 1, finish. Veitch was being asked questions at 15-13 down after 14-ends but came up with a terrific answer in the shape of skipping Stephen Pringle, David Fisher, and John McDermott on a magic carpet run of 1, 3, 1, 1, 1, 3, 1 to beat Andrew Kennedy, 25-15. Gracie slipped from 10-2 up to be under pressure at 19-17 down but conjured up a magic 1, 4, 2 finish to skip Alan Trotter, Brian Pollard, and Andrew Caldwell to a 24-19 win over Rab McFarlane. Higgenbotham led 13-8 and 18-14 before being piped at the post in a 22-21 defeat from Paul Brown while O’Donnell suffered a run in collapse from 17-12 up to lose 21-18 to Craig Watson.
Maitland produced the major moment of high drama in the first batch of the District 14 semi finals of the national championships played at Tanfield with Mark McIntosh, Brian Higgins, and Graeme McIntosh emerging extra-end hero figures. The Dudley opposition of John Young, Jimmy Henderson, and Mike Burns had come under early pressure to trail 9-0 and remained against the collar at 14-5 down however put the cat amongst the pigeons with a fight-back of 4, 2, 1, 2 to peel at 14. McIntosh (Graeme) was on familiar territory and having skipped his then club Tanfield to the national title in 2010 was best equipped to cope with the pressures of an extra-end tiebreaker and proved it by – just – edging the match winner.
The other semi featured Northern against Wardie and it was Hugh Hilson, Larry Sorrell, and Ian Miller of the former that made the pace and a blistering one at that to race into a 15-2 lead over Steven Lawrie, Ross Wylie, and Alan Ward. Miller and Co remained firmly in the driving seat at 19-4 and Northern ran out good 21-14 winners.
Northern also contested the Pairs but Jim Prentice and Jim Bathgate failed to cope with the Tregonning brothers Chris and Andrew who made good space from 4-6 to 15-6 and carried the Pilrig banner forward with a 16-12 victory. The opposition in the District final comes in the shape of Frank Clelland and Alan Nicol of Wardie who jumped into a 10-3 lead that they converted into a 16-6 victory over Kenny McGuire and Alistair McKenna of Seafield
The Tough partnership of Michael and Jean of Leith caused a formbook upset when stepping up from 9-6 down to score a 16-12 win over Craigentinny stars Kevin McFarlane and his mum Jacky in the District 14 semi finals of the Mixed Pairs Championship, played at Summerside.
Their was also an upset in the other semi final with former national champion Gillian Mackintosh and her skip Daniel McCaskell of London Road Foundry edged out by Elaine Walker and Alan Flockhart in a 17-15 thriller. LRF held 3 shots for victory at 16-15 down playing the last but Flockhart destroyed the head to burn the end then carded a match-clinching single on the replay.