West Lothian bowlers bounced back to score an important 130-118 victory in the Hamilton Trophy over Fife at Thornton following defeat previously.
Fife came into the match as clear section leaders having won three times in a row and faced a WL team with four star players absent in the shape of skips Grant Logan, Thomas Mann and Neil Speirs, plus former cap George Sneddon.
All four had been claimed by Bowls Scotland to be part of a Four Nation Test Series at Kelvingrove, Glasgow, as a segment of the 2014 Commonwealth Games selection process; three as candidates and Sneddon as part of the coaching set up.
And it’s a selection challenge that team manager Jimmy Mallon has to contend with again this weekend as all four are required to attend a training session at Kelvingrove.
“It’s a puzzle to understand Bowls Scotland’s attitude towards the Cities & Counties Championship which is their own event and seen as the lifeblood competition of the sport, but we have to accept the situation and get on with it,” said Mallon
And get on with it WL did, although the visitors lost on three rinks and had former internationalist John Aitken to thank for a victory that keeps them in the qualifying race.
The combined margin of defeat suffered by the rinks skipped by Steven Fleming, Calum Logan and team captain Raymond Logan weren’t about to be covered by narrow wins for Gary Smith and Mark Allison.
But Aitken came charging to the rescue by skipping Paul Lynas, Peter Lynch and Sandy McDougall to a spectacular 45-17 win over Colin Falconer inspired initially by a bowl out of the head for a magnificent count of 7. That was end 7 to lead 15-7 and two ends later Aitken and Co started a purple patch run of 5, 2, 2, 3 to stand 27-10 up then, 34-17, and signing off with run of 4, 2, 5.
The phase scoring went 44-39 and 46-35 in favour of West Lothian with Fife winning the third, 44-40.
Mallon hailed an excellent performance from his makeshift team. “We have improved our position in the league table from fourth to joint top with East Lothian so this represented a good days work by us.”