Hillside’s Jean Lavin and Brian Smith score thrilling win

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The Hillside partnership of Jean Lavin and Brian (BJ) Smith have won the District 14 mixed pairs title for the second year running, with a repeat win over last year’s finalists Gillian and Scott Mackintosh of London Road Foundry.

The rematch at Craigentinny was a thrilling affair that went right down to the wire but with two ends to play it looked like Hillside had their passport to the national stage at Ayr Northfield firmly stamped with an authoritative 16-11 lead.

All looked well for the Lavin/Smith partnership as they built the better head on the penultimate end but a moment of pure theatre saw Scott Mackintosh produce a thrilling jack to the ditch strike that earned him a dramatic five-shot reward.

Peels playing the last end meant the final outcome was back in the melting pot but a sizzling contribution from Lavin that saw her pepper the jack with three bowls within six inches, resulted in a count of 4 for Hillside to win 20-16.

“Jean and I are thrilled to bits that we came out on top as it gives us the chance to redeem ourselves at Ayr,” Smith said.

“We won our first two games at the nationals last season and were going great guns to lead Polmaise 14-5 in the quarter-finals but we suffered a late collapse and lost 20-16, then they went on to capture the title.”

The District 13 banner (West Lothian) will be carried by the husband and wife partnership of internationalists Gary and Lorna Smith of Linlithgow while the District 16 (Midlothian) champions are Tina Cunningham and Jim Douglas of Eskmills.

The headline performance in the District 17 (East Lothian) finals at Haddington was served up by Gordon White of Aberlady, who edged a 21-20 thriller against Stewart Johnston of Ormiston in 24 ends.

Grant Thomson of East Linton, last year’s junior singles district champion, set a hot pace to score a 21-10 win over Ross Irvine of Prestongrange, while John McCrorie of Tranent – 2000 national singles champion and an Evening News Champion of Champions – skipped Stephen Whitson to a 17-9 win over David Middleton and Shaun Tuite (North Berwick).

In the fours the Cockenzie & Port Seton rink of Jamie Gordon, Gordon Baillie, Steven Thomson and Craig Valentine stormed to a 19-18 win with a whirlwind finish of 3, 2, 1, 1, 3, to shock Tom Shepherd, Gordon McNeil, Jim Pringle and Stevie Thomson of Castlepark.

West Barns were favourites to progress to Ayr in the triples, and their trio of Ian Thorburn, Gary Landells and Billy Mellors duly delivered at the 20-4 expense of East Lothian Co-op.

Finally, internationalists Le-anne Baillie and Derek Oliver of Cockenzie & Port Seton scored a convincing victory over East Linton in the mixed pairs.