Bowls: West Lothian’s title dream dashed

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West Lothian’s dream of etching their name on the coveted Hamilton Trophy for an 11th time was dashed by Lanarkshire South after a thrilling climax to the final of The Cities & Counties Championship at Carrick Knowe.

The weather was dismally wet but the Carrick Knowe green was in perfect condition and both teams served up a cracking 126-end encounter.

Lanarkshire South won 123-112 but the 11-shot margin was thanks to a powerful 12-2 response to the 111-110 challenge they faced with just four ends to be completed – two each on the WL rinks skipped by Thomas Mann and Sandy McDougall.

It was title No. 7 for the South banner. Wins on the WL rinks skipped by Steven Fleming, Thomas Mann and Raymond Logan kept the East section champions in the picture but failed to cover the defeat of Gary Smith, Sandy McDougall and team captain Grant Logan.

The opening exchanges were a disaster for West Lothian with the opposition carding six shots against Grant Logan and five against Raymond Logan on the first end and the overall loss of 13-2 was followed by a 9-3 against to trail by 17 shots after two ends.

It was a situation tailor-made for South’s Ian Campbell, with the one-time Scotland captain in direct opposition to former Mann sensationally carded a full house count of eight on his 17th end that put WL in with a fighting chance at only three shots down (104-107).

But Lanarkshire South continued to slog it out with the final outcome on a knife-edge at 111-110 against WL with just Mann and McDougall left on the green.

Mann carded a double at his 20th to edge WL into a one-shot lead but that elation was temporary until dampened by McDougall losing a four then the roof caved in with Mann dropping a five and McDougall a three on their 21st ends.

Campbell rose to his own personal challenge by leading 12-2 then going on to inflict 25-11 damage on Drew Paterson, Walter McDougall, Stuart Johnston and Gary Smith.

McDougall and his front-three of Ewan Shearer, Scott Mushet and Gary Orr slipped from 11-11 to a 25-12 defeat by David Gardner.

Logan (Grant) and his rink of Paul Lynas, David Lamb and Calum Logan were chasing from 11-3 down after six ends and did well enough to finish just five shots adrift in a 20-15 defeat by Iain McLean.

Fleming skipped Diz Drysdale, Alec Allan and Mark Allison to a 26-15 win over John Simpson. Mann skipped John Black, Scott McMaster and James Speirs to a 26-20 won over Jim Meikle.

Logan (Raymond) closed to 18-16 then carded 1, 4, 1 to skip Steven Forrest, Ian Drysdale and Blair Mackie to a 22-19 win over Robert Grant.