East Lothian triple have the National title in their sights

Derek Oliver and Mark Johnston starred for East Lothian. Pic: TSPL

Derek Oliver and Mark Johnston starred for East Lothian. Pic: TSPL

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The East Lothian IBC triple Mark Johnston, Willie Wood and Derek Oliver have qualified for the Scottish Triples Championship finals over the weekend of March 25/26 at Aberdeen.

All three are of international class with Johnston capped three times, Oliver 24 and Wood holding the Scottish 
national record 93.

All three have celebrated national title glory across the championship spectrum. However, Johnston and Oliver have yet to hold aloft the silverware of the Triples, while Wood’s triumph in 1984 was achieved under the Midlothian banner.

The 2017 playdown action at Bainfield saw Oliver and his front-two reel off a hat-trick of wins that were emphatic in style and claimed East Fife, Tweedbank and Falkirk as the victims.

A bye into the first round proper pitched the East Lothian trio against Jim Hunter, Alex Hunter and Charlie Smith of East Fife and an early statement of intent was delivered in the authoritative style of a spectacular 26-7 scoreline.

The competitive Tweedbank 
trio of Garry Thorburn, 
Malcolm Thin and Kenny Johnstone provided the second-round opposition having earlier edged a 17-16 thriller over Berwickshire. But the Galashiels stalwarts were outgunned 20-12 by Oliver and Co.

The section final pitched the EL triple against Scott Donaldson, Martin McCaulay and Iain Donaldson of Falkirk and a masterclass performance from both trios resulted in Oliver 
delivering a very hard-earned 19-10 victory.

Peels were called at 6-6 after seven ends, followed by a game-changing run of four ends that broke the deadlock in favour of East Lothian, with Oliver and his front-two engaging a higher gear that accelerated them into 15-6 lead.

Count’s of 3, 3, 1, 2 to establish the nine-shot comfort zone were then halted by the loss of a single, but EL were now firmly in the driving seat and crossed the line as winners.

Bainfield also hosted the second day’s play in the Ladies’ Triples, but it was a Lothian free zone with fancied East Lothian trio Yvonne Veitch, Mags Thomson and Emma Logan making a 21-16 exit to Lanarkshire in the first day’s play at West Lothian IBC.

The section was won by Marie Todd, Gail Lindores and Lauren Upton of Tweedbank at the 21-11 expense of Abbeyview.