There will be a strong East Lothian IBC challenge for the gents Scottish Fours title in the New Year with ace figure Derek Oliver and his fellow garden county stars Mark Johnston, Steven Thomson, and Jamie Higgins capturing the play-down honours in the weekends section play at Lanarkshire IBC.Read More
Wins over Prestwick, Dumbarton, Cowal, and Ayr at the Wishaw venue sparked scenes of excited jubilation in the East Lothian camp and promoted thoughts of Oliver and his front-three going on to bring national title glory in The Fours to the club for a fourth time.
Johnston skipped the rink that last captured the coveted crown in 2005 while Higgins played lead in the triumphant 2004 campaign, both title wins building on the 1998 legacy of Scott Kennedy, Willie W Wood, Ian Bell, and Graham Robertson. Olivers driving ambition is for the 24 times capped star of the international scene to add to the national title wins achieved in the Junior Singles (2006), and 4Bowl Pairs with Higgins (2013).
The play at the weekend saw the domestic champions of East Lothian IBC under threat of making an early prelim round exit but emerge from a battle royal against Prestwick heaving sighs of relief at edging a 17-16 nail biter. It was a wake up call that put the EL rink on their toes and Oliver and Co managed to put some comfort zone margin between them and their Dumbarton opposition to clinch a convincing 23-11 victory. EL faced underdog opposition in the shape of Cowal in their second round challenge and a powerful display saw Oliver and his rink confirm the formbook with a commanding 25-9 triumph.
The section final pitched EL against Ayr and the hard fought battle that unfolded tested the mettle of the banner carriers of the garden county but they rose resiliently to the challenge and edged a humdinger of a game, 19-17. The East Lothian rink is joined in the Last four stage at Aberdeen one the weekend of March 25/26 by immediate opponents, Falkirk, also Blantyre and Garioch.
The Bainfield rink of Mark McIntosh, John McDermott, Alan Brown, and Barry Hill suffered prelim round agony at Midlothian IBC where they were sentenced to an early bath their 25-10 defeat from Tweedbank (skip Stuart White). There was also an early first round exit in store for the Midlothian IBC rink of Paul Veitch, Neil Watson, Doug Russell, and Ian Fleming who crashed out to a 22-15 defeat Ayr.
West Lothian IBC standard bearers, Blair Mackie, Raymond Logan, Cameron Greer, and Calum Logan showed up well with a hat trick of wins over Headwell (21-16), Tweedbank (22-21), and Coatbridge (20-13); but suffered a 23-15 defeat from Falkirk in the section final The Alex Marshall Arena.
Balbardie (Bathgate) beat Berwickshire, 29-10, in their first round clash but the rink of Davie Ross, Jimmy Mallon, Jim Speirs, and Walter McDougall were the iped by Falkirk in a an 18-17 thriller.