There will be a strong East Lothian IBC challenge for the gents Scottish Fours title in the new year after Derek Oliver skipped Mark Johnston, Steven Thomson and Jamie Higgins to the play-down honours in the section play at Lanarkshire IBC.
Wins over Prestwick, Dumbarton, Cowal, and Ayr in Wishaw promoted thoughts of Oliver and his front-three going on to bring national title glory in The Fours to the club for a fourth time.
Johnston skipped the rink that last captured the coveted crown in 2005 while Higgins played lead in the triumphant 2004 campaign, both title wins building on the 1998 legacy of Scott Kennedy, Willie Wood, Ian Bell and Graham Robertson. Oliver, capped 24 times, wants to add to his national title wins achieved in the Junior Singles (2006), and 4Bowl Pairs with Higgins (2013).
East Lothian were under threat of making a prelim round exit against Prestwick but emerged from a battle royal 17-16. It was a wake-up call and Oliver and Co then clinched a convincing 23-11 victory over Dumbarton.
EL faced underdogs Cowal in their second-round challenge and a powerful display resulted in 25-9 triumph.
The section final pitched EL against Ayr and ‘the garden county’ edged a humdinger 19-17.
East Lothian are joined in the semi-finals at Aberdeen on the weekend of March 25/26 by immediate opponents, Falkirk, also Blantyre and Garioch.
The Bainfield rink of Mark McIntosh, John McDermott, Alan Brown and Barry Hill suffered prelim round agony at Midlothian IBC, losing 25-10 to Tweedbank (skip Stuart White).
The Midlothian IBC rink of Paul Veitch, Neil Watson, Doug Russell and Ian Fleming went out in the first round. West Lothian IBC standard bearers, Blair Mackie, Raymond Logan, Cameron Greer and Calum Logan beat Headwell (21-16), Tweedbank (22-21), and Coatbridge (20-13) but suffered a 23-15 defeat from Falkirk in the final at The Alex Marshall Arena.
Balbardie (Bathgate) beat Berwickshire 29-10, in their first-round clash but the rink of Davie Ross, Jimmy Mallon, Jim Speirs and Walter McDougall were the pipped by Falkirk in a an 18-17 thriller.