Midlothian Ladies’ dream of extending their record number of title wins to nine in the Scottish Inter Club League against Auckinleck at Livingston got off to an encouraging start but ended in a nightmare final defeat at the hands of the defending champions.
The Ayrshire team won on all four rinks to post an 89-66 victory.
Midlothian arrived in the final with the awesome record of nine wins out of nine and their confidence inspired a buoyant start on three of their rinks. Team captain Shona Johnstone made a storming start of 1, 2, 1, 5, 1, 1 to sail into an 11-0 lead after six ends and there was positive support from May Brownlee (7-5), plus a holding effort of 4-4 from Sandra McLeish.
But the slow start on the rink skipped by Stacey McDougall to trail 7-2 turned out to be an early signal that Auchinleck were intent on making a staunch defence of the title as they eyed the national crown for what would be a seventh time.
The phase scoring reflects the early dominance of Midlothian with a 26-18 capture of the first seven ends but the middle-match exchanges proved to be a game changer with Auchinleck’s 31-19 fightback tipping the scales slightly (49-45) in their favour.
It was still all to play for entering the final phase but the momentum remained with Auchinleck and Midlothian were swamped 40-21 with the rink skipped by McDougall the only one to turn the tables (8-7) on the fired-up opposition.
A three-end spell rocked Midlothian back on their heels with the master scoreboard moving from 48-55 after 15 ends to 55-76 after 18, having been outgunned 21-7 with losses of 6-1, 7-2 and 8-4.
Johnstone skipped Ellie Borthwick, Janette McVicar and Margaret Porter into a substantial 15-4 lead after 12 ends but came under late pressure from a strong opposition skipped by Claire Johnston and collapsed to a 20-18 defeat.
Brownlee and her rink of Dorothy Millar, Alison Plenderleith and Annette Wilson, led 9-6 after nine but were crossed 10-9 at the next and slipped to 21-11 down before losing 23-14 to Jos Williamson.
McLeish and her front three of Sandra Muir, Pat Liddle and Grace McGregor were crossed 12-8 by the loss of a 5 on end 11 but were still battling well at 18-18 before the loss of a 3 cost them a 21-18 defeat from Maureen Shimmons.
McDougall and her rink of Lorna Goldsmith, Gill Wilson and Susan Liddle were being put through the mill at 15-2 down after 10 and 25-10 after 18 before a late 1, 1, 4 fightback saw them settle for a 25-16 defeat from Heather Kay.