East Lothian gents come back from dead to win Triples

Derek Oliver won the Triples but missed out in the Fours
Derek Oliver won the Triples but missed out in the Fours
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East Lothian bowlers Mark Johnston, Willie Wood MBE and Derek Oliver produced a fine performance to win the gents Triples at the national championship finals at Aberdeen

The semi-final action featured Oliver and Co against the Balbardie trio of Andrew Jenkins, Kenny Martin,and Ewan Shearer who were considered the underdogs yet made the stronger start and led 9-6 after nine ends.

The picture changed complexion with a rapid run of 2, 2, 2 that thrust East Lothian into a 12-9 advantage but that landscape was transformed by a 5, 2 counterstroke that saw Balbardie regain a 16-12 supremacy. The prospect of a shock upset was intensified with East Lothian still being forced to operate on the back foot at 18-15 down and fast approaching the finishing line with just two ends to play.

The outcome of the penultimate end was going to be crucial and Oliver and his front two carded a sizzling count of three that resulted in the master scoreboard flashing a match score signal of 18-18. Setting the scene for a thrilling climax and last-end drama, a knife-edge single clinched victory for East Lothian camp.

The final pitched East Lothian against a Garioch line-up of Colin Banks, Brian Reid and Jason Banks that was geed up by a commanding 16-6 win over Inverclyde in their semi-final.

East Lothian hopes of a fifth Triples title soared with an encouraging 3, 3 opening but the next 12 ends saw them 17-11 down.

The dramatic loss of 5, 2 took EL to the brink but a magical fightback of 3, 1, 1, 2 triggered an 18-17 title-winning salute.

Oliver and Johnston were joined by Stevie Thomson at second and Jamie Higgins at third in the East Lothian rink bidding to capture the Fours title and a strong semi-final show saw them beat Martin McCalley, David Taylor, John McHutchison and Gary Hutchison of Falkirk 20-12.

The final against the Blantyre rink of Craig Irvine, Greg McLaughlin, Iain McLean and Stewart Anderson ended in anti-climax for Oliver and Co, who faced a mountain to climb at 18-7 down after 13 ends.

EL staged a storming finish in the whirlwind like style of 4, 1, 2, (3), 4, 1 but conceding that three at the third last sentenced them to a frustrating 22-20 defeat.

Dean Riva contested the Under-18 Mixed Singles but the budding East Lothian star lost a 21-17 semi-final thriller against Carla Banks of Garioch, who then beat Robert Hunter of Alloa 21-15 in the final.