Midlothian’s 13 shot away victory (120-107) over StirlingCounty East at Grangemouth was hard earned in challenging weather conditions and the visitors were relieved to celebrate their first section win in the Cities and Counties Championship
Wins on the rinks skipped by Colin MacFarlane, Ronnie Duncan, David Peacock, and Colin Walker, and single figure setbacks for Ramsay Blair and Kevin McDougall represented a team performance that was more solid compared to the opening defeat from Fife County. “The conditions made the outcome a bit of a lottery but in these circumstances it was vital for us to scramble a win that keeps us competitive in our East section campaign”, said team manager Drew Pearson. The match opened with Midlothian counting 6-2 across the green and that acted as an encourager for them to settle well enough to go on and capture the first seven-end phase 43-33. The 10 shot margin being boosted by a mighty count of 5 for Duncan on end six but he (14-3) and Peacock (11-3) were the only two Midlothian rinks to have gained supremacy over their opposition.
The second phase saw Duncan suffer an 11-2 collapse but MacFarlane stepped up to the plate with a strong 11-1 contribution that helped Midlothian to a 39-33 return that increased their match lead to 16 (82-66). Midlothian were edged out 41-38 in the third phase so had defended their match lead well enough to win but the figures mask the story of a dramatic climax with the visitors brought under immense pressure approaching the finishing line.
End 15 was a highlight one for Stirling East with the home team conjuring up a magic 9-0 clean-sweep that reduced Midlothian’s lead down to seven shots (82-75) then the melting pot bubbled right up to entering the final 21st ends with the match scoreboard showing all square at 107-107. Last end heroics were called for and the super heroes proved to all be in the Midlothian camp with the combined efforts of MacFarlane (+1), Duncan (+3), Peacock (+3), Walker (+1), Blair (+3), McDougall (+2) producing a spectacular match winning 13-0 clean sweep. MacFarlane and his rink of Robert Campbell, Stuart Roseburgh, and Colin Bonnar trailed 8-6 after nine ends but sparked into life with a nine end purple patch spell of 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, (2), 4, 1, 1 that accelerated them to 22-10 and on to a 24-11 win over D Couper. Duncan began to tread water after skipping Jamie MacNab, David Lawrence, and Danny McDougall into a 14-2 lead after six ends and they were peeled at 16-16 before kicking on to beat C Ross, 23-18. Peacock also had his best moments in the early passages of the game and having skipped Craig More, Ryan Yuill, and Scott Briggs into an impressive 15-3 lead after eight ends had to conjure up a magic 3 at the last to clinch a 22-19 win over Simon Thomson. Walker and his front-thee of Neil Linton, Lindsay Plenderleith, and Craig Hodge answered the challenge of being 16-12 down with a 2, 1, 1, 1, finish to pip Stuart Williamson, 17-16. Blair lost 22-21 to Stuart Hogg having rallied well from 16-11 down and his 5 at end 19 came at a vital stage of the match, while McDougall suffered a 21-11 defeat from Gary Crosbie.
East Lothian’s single shot defeat at Borders was an opening setback in the Cities and Counties Championship but last season’s national semi finalists got back to winning form with a seven shot victory over West Fife that was hard fought at Prestongrange. West Fife finished with the upper hand over the EL rinks skipped by John McCrorie and team captain Craig Valentine; but the win points (126-119) were secured for ‘the garden county’ by triumphs for Scott Kennedy, Billy Mellors, Derek Oliver, and Ian Bell. “Given our opening defeat this was suddenly a must win fixture for us and I am pleased that the team answered with a determination and focus that delivered the right result for us”, said team manager Ian Bell. Kennedy was a returnee and the Scotland Cap emphasised his value with the best result of the match, skipping Chris Johnston, Matt Osborne, and Tom Young to a 22-14 win over Rab McFarlane.
Mellors and his rink of Ross Thomson, Jamie Gordon, and Stephen Cochrane set the EL challenge alight by blazing into a 13-2 lead then they traded on the margin to score a comfortable 25-19 win over Paul Brown. Oliver benefited greatly from a mighty five at end seven to lead 11-4 then skipped Adam Martin, Gordon Baillie, and Glenn Blair to 18-7 before settling for a 24-18 win over Andrew Kennedy. Bell closed to 18-19 with a four at end 17 then skipped Stewart Johnston, Billy Cormack, and Craig McLeod to a battling 22-21 win over Craig Watson. McCrorie suffered a 25-14 defeat from Kenny Bald while Valentine lost 22-19 to Jim McGuire.