Edinburgh & Leith have made it through to the knockout stage of The Cities and Counties Championship and finished top of the highly competitive East section despite losing three out of seven including a threatening last match defeat from Midlothian at Newbattle.
Midlothian entered the final section match with a glimmer of hope of stealing a place in the top two and put up a bold show to beat the league leaders by 14 shots (125-111) but that fell 20 short of what was needed to finish ahead of E&L. E&L were well protected by the size of their shot margin bank if their many rivals also finished on the 8 point mark and the outcome of the Bowls equivalent of Super Saturday did put East Lothian, West Lothian, and Fife County also in that frame with Midlothian.
Midlothian’s second target was to finish ahead of West Lothian on shots but news of results elsewhere put a dampener on the celebrations at Newbattle with the calculation that a shortfall off 11 left them in third place. Leaving team manager Drew Pearson to reflect, “It was always going to be a difficult enough task in trying to obtain a victory against ELBA but unfortunately we also left ourselves too much to do in the shots department to ensure qualification from a very strong section.
Got to say a big well done to Midlothian guys for performances, attitude and commitment especially over last 3 games, it was not to be this year but can now look forward to 2016 with some hope”.
Whilst E&L have never fired at exciting levels at any stage of this campaign the team has fought courageously to stay ahead of the pack and once again showed good damage limitation qualities in a menacing Lions Den situation. Wins on the rinks skipped by James Hogg, Robert Marshall, and Jamie Gracie weren’t sizeable but helped keep Midlothian at bay as the home team enjoyed a supremacy of sorts over Paul Veitch, Paul O’Donnell, and Mal Higgenbotham.
E&L came under early pressure at 12 shots down after four ends but dug in well enough to hit the front with a single shot lead after eights ends and the ding-dong battle for supremacy was still to be won as late as entering end 18. Midlothian were ahead by a nose with the master scoreboard showing 96-95 after which the home team looked set to clinch victory with across the green counts of 6-4, 10-2, to lead by 11 but E&L rattled the home cage with a 6-1 rally on the penultimate end. Final end drama centred on a super count of 6 for the home rink skipped by Ramsay Blair and with Peacock and Bonnar each adding a double and Walker a single an 11-5 aggregate in favour of the home side triggered the Midlothian victory salute.
The phase scoring saw Midlothian edge the first seven-ends, 39-36, E&L turn the tables with a 43-33 score on the second, then the home side dominate the third, 54-36.
Hogg lost hefty counts of 5 and 6 late in his game but helped keep the lights on for a fading E&L by skipping Josh Spalding, Stuart Campbell, and Darren Hush to a 24-19 win over Ramsay Blair. Marshall suffered an alarming collapse from 20-7 up but still skipped Euan Craig, Gavin Smith, and Colin Hutchison to a 20-18 win over Colin Bonnar while Alan Trotter, Brian Pollard, Andy Caldwell, and Gracie edged an 18-17 win over Scott Briggs.
Colin McFarlane led the Midlothian charge lighting the fuse with an explosive 5 on the first end then skipping Ryan Yuill, Mark Yuill,and Tam Russell, via a 28-7 lead, to a 29-17 win over Paul Veitch. Colin Walker couldn’t sustain an 11-0 pace but beat O’Donnell, 23-15, while David Peacock edged a 19-17 win over Higgenbotham.