East Lothians mission entering their penultimate fixture in the B Division of the indoor bowls gents Premier League was to score a victory that would clinch the top of the table honour and its reward of a place in the playoff final.Read More
Current form and home environment advantage at The Alex Marshall Arena made East Lothian strong favourites to deliver the expected win over foot of the table Balbardie even with the absence of top stars Alex Marshall MBE and Billy Mellors. The visitors from Bathgate were fighting for premier league survival and seeking to win what would be an impressive third escape victory in a row; but the formbook wasnt to be denied with a rampant home side crushing their opposition by a massive 51 shot margin.
Wins on all four rinks delivered a 104-53 triumph that reflected a strong team performance and had the local support cheering the result to the rafters whilst the humbled Balbardie camp had to cope with the breaking news that their fellow strugglers Aberdeen and Paisley had both won. The league table after nine of the 10 games played reading; East Lothian 14, Lanarkshire 9; Ardrossan 9, Aberdeen 8 (+5), Paisley 8 (-53, Balbardie 6 (-111).
East Lothian led from start to finish and held the upper hand on all three phases, setting the scene with the 31-16 capture of the first, dominating the second, 46-15, then pressed harder to edge the third, 27-22. its a pleasing factor from a team perspective that this is the fifth time in the campaign that we have celebrated wins on all four rinks and that is encouraging consistency from a mixture of youth and experience, reflected team captain Graham Robertson. The major contribution was made by Scotland cap Derek Oliver who benefited from counts of five and six as he skipped Ross Thomson, Stewart Thomson, and Jamie Higgins to a 31-12 win over Walter McDougall.
Reigning World Under 25 Singles champion Joe Mower justified his promotion to skip as in the company of Calum Darling, Lewis Betts, and Glenn Blair to a 31-14 win over Sandy McDougall having also carded punishing big counts of a five and a six. Robertson skipped Mark Johnston, Andy Burt, and Willie Wood MBE into a 13-2 lead after eight ends then the captain continued to assert his authority in a 23-10 victory over Ewan Shearer. Scott Kennedy and his front-three of Andrew Jeffrey, Dean Riva, and Dougie Berwick shaped up well to lead 13-4 but the recently appointed Scotland team captain then came under pressure in a battling 19-17 win over Gary Orr.
The playoff final for the premier league title takes place at Turriff on Saturday February 25 and East Lothian await the top of the table outcome in the A Division being fought out by Blantyre and Falkirk.