West Lothian defend their indoor title against East

Thomas Mann and Neil Speirs were in dominant form (library pic)

Thomas Mann and Neil Speirs were in dominant form (library pic)

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West Lothian defended their indoor bowls Premier League title by overcoming arch-rivals East Lothian.

West Lothian won in style, leading from start to finish for an 80-71 victory at Auchinleck, completing a glorious hat-trick of titles.

West Lothian raced into a 22-3 lead after two ends, having rocked East Lothian back on their heels with counts across the carpet of 9-2, 13-1.

There were two principal contributions in the shape of counts of 5 and 7 from the rinks skipped by Thomas Mann and Mark Allison at the first and second end respectively – with Derek Oliver and Alex Marshal taking the hits.

Mann and Allison went on to cash in on their inspirational starts to return winning scores and were joined by a strong contribution from Neil Speirs, but Calum Logan had to settle for second best against East Lothian captain Billy Mellors.

West Lothian dominated the first seven ends 33-20, but were edged out 25-22 and 26-25 by an East Lothian team that fought right to the final bell.

And it is worth noting that the hammer-and-tong nature of the thrilling exchanges across the four rinks resulted in seven ends being left unplayed.

Speirs was buzzing from the off and in that mood the Scotland cap has a charisma that reaches across the carpet so there was added value to him building on an exciting 2, 4, 3 start to skip Bryan Cooper, Dougie Mitchell and Des Hagart to an 18-11 win. All credit though to the EL rink of Colin Cook, Jamie Gordon, Willie Wood and Scott Kennedy who refused to cave in.

Allison tamed EL icon figure Alex Marshall by skipping Paul Lynas, Raymond Logan and Jamie Gracie to a 25-17 win over the former world champion and his rink of Kieran Simants, Dougie Berwick and Steven Morgan. It was a win that was hard earned as, having led 14-6, Allison and Co had to answer challenging pressure when Marshall closed to 17-16 at the 16th end.

Mann played a captain’s role having delivered a stirring pre-match team talk then answering a 16-11 deficit with a run of 4, 3, 1, (3), 4 to skip Cameron Greer, Ian Drysdale, and James Speirs to a 23-19 victory.

The opposition rink of Ewan Fallen, Gary Darling, Graham Robertson, and Oliver had raised hopes of an EL revival when carding a 5 at end 14 to have Mann at their mercy.

Logan looked sure to make the WL dominance complete when skipping James Greenock, Blair Mackie and George Sneddon into a 12-5 lead after 12 ends but Mellors produced a 6, 4, 1, 3 finish as he skipped Mark Johnston, Andy Jeffrey, and Jamie Higgins to a defiant 24-14 win.