West LOTHIAN always expect a tough battle when they meet Borders in the East section of the Hamilton Trophy and their latest clash in The Scottish Cities and Counties Bowls Championship went right down to the wire in a 124-123 thriller at Newbridge.
The match could have gone either way with last season’s section runners-up – and national semi finalists – paving an escape route to victory with a game changing 10-2 count on the penultimate end.
Borders hit back with a 6-4 reply on the final end and might well have pulled a victory out of the hat but for WL skip Thomas Mann producing a brilliant block that denied Alistair White a clear passage to an inviting conversion opportunity.
“I am relieved at getting our campaign off to a winning start, but my fingers are down to the knuckles as that result was too close for comfort,” said WL team manager Jimmy Mallon.
Wins for the rinks skipped by Grant Logan, Thomas Mann and Neil Speirs served to keep the WL heads up as the team and the support on the banking coped with the pain of defeat being inflicted upon Steven Fleming, John Aitken and team captain Raymond Logan.
The phase scoring paints an accurate picture of an epic battle being fought out on a tightrope with Borders capturing the first seven ends 45-36, then West Lothian bouncing back with a 46-37 reply on the second before edging the third, 42-41.
International star Grant Logan played a major role as the architect of the WL victory having picked up from 6-4 to 15-7 before answering the loss of a single with a telling finishing run of 1, 1, 4, 1 to skip Steven Forrest, Andy Dunnett and Mark Allison to a 22-8 win over Stuart Bebbington.
But the contribution from Thomas Mann was immense as he recovered from an 11-0 mauling over the first five ends to skip Drew Paterson, George Sneddon and Blair Mackie to an inspiring 24-19 win over Alistair White.
Mann and his trio were still chasing their tails at 18-12 down after 14 ends but came alive with a whirlwind finishing spell of 3, 1, 3, 2, (1), 2, 1 that stole the show.
Speirs made a strong contribution with a morale-boosting run of 4, 2, 2 to skip Ian Laverie, Ian Drysdale and Alex Allan into a 20-14 lead after 17 ends but became hard pressed before clinching a 22-20 win over Ian Crawford.
Fleming led 16-12 before losing 21-19 to R Kerr while a damaging late collapse from 20-12 up saw John Aitken lose 27-23 to Rob Crawford.
Ray Logan never recovered from the loss of two 5s on the trot to trail 13-6 and went down 28-14 to G Forsyth.