REIGNING Cities & Counties Championship holders Edinburgh & Leith require a colossal result against Borders at Jedburgh tomorrow to have any chance of making it through to the knockout stage as one of the top two qualifiers from the tough East Section.
West Lothian look sure to finish top of the section as they defend a two-point lead and a healthy shot margin bank of 80+ going into their final fixture at home to Fife at Queensferry. But the battle to finish second is going right to the wire, with Borders, East Lothian and Edinburgh & Leith all deadlocked on eight points and also tightly bunched on shot margin (36, 35, 34 respectively).
In-form East Lothian look to be in the best position as they face the weaker opposition in the shape of Stirling East.
E&L, on the other hand, complete their section campaign with a tough visit to Jedburgh and it will most likely take a sizeable win over Borders for the defending champions to outdo East Lothian. It’s a mission that looks extremely unlikely against a Borders team who themselves are in the mix following victory over previously undefeated section leaders West Lothian at Melrose. Borders followed up their win over West Lothian with an away success over Stirling East, so are in good fettle for the trip to face an E&L team failing to reach the heights of the last two seasons. E&L welcome Willie McDonald back to skip in a change that pushes Jamie Gracie down to third and Gavin Smith to second to the exclusion of Stephen Pringle. Craig McCall continues at lead.
“It is a tough enough assignment for us to win and to do so by a wide margin even more so but our guys are primed to give their best shot,” said E&L manager Willie Watson.
East Lothian, however, are widely expected to deliver against a Stirling East team that lost by 35 shots at home to Borders last weekend. East Lothian are at full strength for the West Barns clash, with Willie Wood MBE, Craig Valentine (team captain), and John White returning, while Angus Blair and John McCrorie have also been coaxed back into action.
Calvert Allison, Mark Riding, Richard Black, Matt Osbourne, and Craig McLeod drop to the reserve bench.
West Lothian welcome back Thomas Mann against Fife County to the exclusion of Ratho’s Brian Campbell.