West Lothian suffered a damaging setback in their bid to dominate the East section of the Cities and Counties Championship with last seasons table-toppers edged out to a three shot defeat (127-124) by Borders in a dramatic climax to the head to head at Kirkliston.
Wins on the rinks skipped by Steven Fleming, Raymond Logan, and Grant Logan were in double figures but failed to cover the defeat of Thomas Mann, Sandy McDougall, and Neil Speirs. Kirkliston is viewed as a win venue for West Lothian but Borders have been dangerous visitors in the past and having led for the first 15 ends of this latest encounter will feel justice was being done when escaping from the jaws of defeat. Borders might well have succumbed to the pressures of facing a five shot deficit entering the final 21st ends across the green but showed impressive tenacity and brilliant skills to pull victory out of the hat with a magic 12-4 finish. It seemed that WL, facing a single shot deficit going into the tension filled final moments of the match, were about to get off the hook when Gary Orr and Stuart Johnston combined to create a solid hold of two shots on the rink skipped by Sandy McDougall. The only escape option available to Borders skip Stuart White was ‘ a yard on’ into the head that demanded one hundred percent accuracy on a hand that is arguably the most challenging hand on the green but his perfect last bowl effort converted for a match clinching double.
“We were beaten by a wonder bowl that had no element of luck attached to it so deserves to be applauded and defeat is a setback but not quite the end of our world” reflected a WL spokesman later. End six flashed an early danger signal to WL with Neil Speirs conceding a 5 that helped the visitors card 13-2 across the green and accelerate them into a 21 shot lead ((46-25). End 10 brought the home team back into the picture with a super six for Sandy McDougall and a mighty five for Grant Logan the foundation of a 14-3 fight back that reduced the WL deficit to an attackable six shots (66-60). End 16 didn’t produce a big margin of difference but an 8-5 in favour of WL gave them the match lead for the first time with the major scoreboard showing them 100-99 ahead suggesting the launch pad of an acceleration to victory. Defending a five shot lead going into the final heads across the green WL were heartened by a 4 for Steven Fleming but jolted by Raymond Logan’s loss of a 6 then Borders edged shots against Thomas Mann (1) Neil Speirs (1), Grant Logan (2), and Sandy McDougall (2). The phase analysis shows Borders making a terrific start on away territory to rock WL back onto their heels with a 50-34 domination of the first seven-ends the home team launch a fight back of 47-36 and 43-41 that just fell short. Rink Scores: S Fleming 26 G Forsythe 13; R Logan 27 C McNeil 15; G Logan 27 I Crawford 16; N Speirs 22 S Bebbingston 27; S McDougall 12 S White 25; T Mann 10 R Nichol 31.