Bowls: East Lothian duo into Scottish Pairs semis

Jamie Higgins and Derek Oliver were Scottish champions in 2012/13
Jamie Higgins and Derek Oliver were Scottish champions in 2012/13
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East Lothian duo Jamie Higgins and Derek Oliver kept them-selves in the hunt for national title glory by winning the indoor bowls Scottish Pairs qualifying section.

The duo, national champions in 2012/13, will line up in the semi-finals which take place at Falkirk on the weekend of April 2-3.

“It serves personal and club morale very well that we will carry the East Lothian banner into the last four,” said Oliver.

The pair carved out success with emphatic wins over Stirling, Abbeyview, Castlemilk, and a battling one over Tweedbank.

The first two wins were achieved at The Hutchison Crossway stadium in Edinburgh and the other two at The Inveralmond stadium in Livingston.

The campaign trail was launched with a challenge from Stirling partnership George Young and Neil Robertson in the preliminary round who were defeated 27-10.

First-round opponents Stuart Pagan and Paul Brown of Abbeyview are stalwart figures of the Dunfermline club but crumbled under a 20-12 onslaught from Higgins and Oliver.

The move to Livingston was taken in their stride by the East Lothian partnership who winged their way into a 14-2 lead over Willie Burns and Kenny Daly of Castlemilk, then confirmed their high-flying form with a 29-7 victory.

The section final against the talented Kenny Johnstone and Ross Nicol of Tweedbank was not plane-sailing although that did look likely when Oliver skipped Higgins into a 10-0 lead after three ends, having carded 5, 1, 4.

The opposition closed to 14-13 but that menace was answered in bold fashion to lead 19-14 after 17 ends.

The final outcome was back in some doubt at 19-17 with just two ends to play but the killer instinct of the EL duo prevailed with a 2, 1 finish that clinched a 22-17 victory.

Midlothian IBC substituted their unavailable domestic champions, the Peacock brothers, with Ian Fleming and Andy Caldwell, but the former Portobello stars failed to shine in a 21-15 exit to Abbeyview in the preliminary round.

Play in the section hosted by Coatbridge brought early grief to the challengers from West Lothian, Balbardie, and Bainfield.

WL (Derek Hagart and Stuart Johnston) made a 22-14 exit to East Kilbride in the preliminary round and were joined on the sidelines by Graham Keery and Gary Orr of Balbardie who lost 20-14 to Prestwick’s duo.

Bainfield’s Ian Burns and Mark Hewitt had a bye into the first round but they suffered a 19-11 defeat from Kilmarnock club Galleon.