Bowls: Mitchell helps E&L to win

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EDINBURGH & LEITH raised their form to its highest level yet of this season’s Hamilton Trophy campaign and confirmed their fast-improving reputation as a force to be reckoned with by celebrating a 25-shot victory (120-95) over East section leaders West Lothian at Northern BC.

Wins for the rinks skipped by Paul Veitch, Mal Higgenbotham, Robert Marshall, Willie McDonald and Colin Mitchell, plus a peel for Paul O’Donnell, equates to a magnificent performance against strong West Lothian opposition.

“This was a must-win fixture for us and to emerge without a losing rink is testament to the amazing team spirit, skill and determination that has developed since bouncing back from two wounding early defeats,” said team manager Willie Watson.

Watson had a pre-match dilemma to cope with as the result of a last-minute call-off from skip James Hogg and the manager came up with a late coup as he surprised the E&L core by tempting former Scotland captain Colin Mitchell into making a comeback.

“Colin is in great form for Carrick Knowe at the moment and luckily I had bumped into him earlier in the week, so [I] put out a feeler about him helping us out in an emergency situation – and got a positive reply,” explained Watson.

“The guy still has a great presence about him and when he turned up out of the mist – so to speak – to skip in place of James (Hogg), there was a buzz of excitement spread though the team,” added the manager.

E&L trailed by six shots after the second end but were perked up by a 7-2, 9-4, 9-1 response that accelerated them into a 12 shot lead and they stayed settled to capture the first 7-end phase 40-28.

The next six ends up to 13 were hard-fought, but with WL making no great impression to trail by 14 shots, end 14 produced a tremendous highlight for E&L as the home team thrilled their support with a stunning count of 15-0.

It resulted in E&L dominating the second phase 37-30 to enter a 29-shot comfort zone and they turned the screw on the struggling leaders with a 7-1 follow-up to have WL at their 35 shot mercy.

WL did manage to make a 37-33 impression on the third phase, but they were destined to tumble down to third place in the table and, worryingly for them, a sizeable 40 shots adrift of E&L, who leapfrogged them into second in the standings.

The overall rink scores were: Paul Veitch 22; Neil Speirs 13; Mal Higgenbotham 23; Ray Logan 18; Robert Marshall 21; Grant Logan 16; Willie McDonald 18; Steven Fleming 14; Colin Mitchell 19; Thomas Mann 17; Paul O’Donnell 17; John Aitken 17.