West Lothian IBC champions Calum Logan and Neil Speirs lived up to their reputation as national top notchers by delivering four first class performances in the play down action of The Scottish 2 Bowl Pairs Championship at Midlothian IBC.
Speirs skipped Logan through to the last four stage of the event and if the form is reproduced at Paisley IBC over the weekend of 23/24 January then winning the title is well within their grasp. The WL champs opened at the Dalkeith stadium with a 2-0 sets win over Perth in the prelim round then it was a major triumph to repeat that score over East Lothian stars Andy Jeffrey and Billy Mellors in the first round proper. Follow on wins over Tweedbank and Stirling by the same margin meant that the WL partnership never dropped a set over their four matches. The qualifiers from other venues were, Lanarkshire, Inverness, and Galleon.
Meanwhile the Balbardie IBC challenge from Jimmy Mallon and Walter McDougall faded out in the prelim round with a 2-0 defeat from Headwell.
The ladies version of The 2 Bowl Pairs Championship saw prelim round exits made by the WL partnership of Lynne Greer and Jennifer Richardson and their Balbardie counterparts Betty Johnston and Kim Ross going down 2-0 and 2-1 to Midlothian and Perth respectively.
West Lothian IBC’s bid to rekindle the form and spirit that recently delivered three-in-a-row indoor bowls premier league titles failed to reach a points winning height in the opening match against their 2014/15 successors Paisley at the Inveralmond Stadium in Livingston. The clash of the titans was played out on a knife-edge from start to finish and developed into an epic counter that went right down to the wire before Paisley delivered the goods in a thrilling climax to clinch a 76-73 victory. To depart Fortress West Lothian with full points was a great result for last season’s surprise champions and they were worthy winners albeit in such a closely fought battle the pendulum might well have swung in favour of the home side. Given the richness of class and history that drove the West Lothian effort it is a major disappointment in the final stages when the chips are down and the stakes so high to be outscored on your home carpet. “When a game is balanced on a tightrope and the opposition is strong the outcome is often decided by the breaks and I feel they didn’t come our way” reflected WL team captain Thomas Mann.
Mann may have been influenced by the pain of his final end where his bold attempt to add a second shot ended in the disaster of giving away a single that pushed Paisley in into a 74-73 match lead with just one more rink to finish.
That cruel outcome piled the pressure on Calum Logan who instead of defending what would have been a single shot lead now desperately needing to card a single to peel the match and a double to win. Play in Logan’s final end was in progress and morale was high having skipped Cameron Greer, Blair Mackie, and Craig Moss into an impressive 25-15 lead over Piasley’s icon figure Jonathan Ross. Greer opened with two cracking lead bowls but the opposition second did a fantastic job of beating them both leading to a tension filled climax that saw Logan whiz narrowly past his target with two strike efforts – and paying the price with two shots lost.
West Lothian will reflect however on the heavy 20-11 setback suffered by the rink of James Greenock, George Sneddon, Jamie Gracie, and Mark Allison at the hands of John Gilmartin- and a particular spell where the home rink were outscored 14-1 over an eight end period. Neil Speirs picked up from 13-15 to beat J O’Sullivan 21-19 while the other final scores were, C Logan 25 J Ross 17; T Mann 16 D Stobo 20.
Balbardie gents launched their campaign in Division 1 North with a good 79-64 win over Perth while the ladies suffered an agonising thee shot defeat (82-79) away to Tweedbank in Division 1C.
WL ladies lost 92-76 at Bainfield.
The league play this weekend sees West Lothian gents visit Midlothian and Balbardie at home to Coatbridge while the ladies are idle due to the play-down of the Scottish Singles Championship at Arbroath.
Jean Brown carries the banner for WLIBC and opens in the first round (2pm) against Ann Gilmour of Galleon while Lorraine Malloy of Balbardie lines up against Alison Strachan of Cowal in the prelim round at 10am.