Bowls: Gracie adds weight to West title bid

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Jamie GRACIE has switched his bowling allegiance from Bainfield to West Lothian – and the 27-year-old makes an immediate debut for the Livingston-based club in Saturday’s opening fixture against newly-promoted Alloa in the A section of the Premier League.

Gracie is Ayrshire-born and spent his early years at Auchinleck before coming through to Edinburgh as an 18-year-old student. He made an instant impact by winning The Edinburgh Open title at Balgreen in 2002.

Gracie’s baptism as a West Lothian player will be a home one at the Inveralmond stadium and the selectors introduce him at second in a rink comprising Cameron Greer, James Speirs and Thomas Mann.

Mann has been handed the captaincy for the premier league campaign and will hope to make a winning start, although the team will miss the talents of his international buddy Neil Speirs, who is away on holiday.

Calum Logan steps up to the plate to skip in place of Speirs and the exciting 21-year-old will have Paul Lynas, Ian Drysdalle and Stuart Johnston as an experienced front three.

Logan’s older brother Scott and their father Raymond form the front end for the rink skipped by Mark Allison. Bryan Cooper plays third while the fourth rink comprises Stewart McMaster, James Greenock, Des Hagart and George Sneddon.

East Lothian also compete in the A section and with home carpet advantage against Paisley are expected to win, however their task is made more challenging by the fact that seven regular faces will be missing.

Alex Marshall is joined on the unavailable list by Jamie Higgins, Mark Johnston and John Stevenson, while Paul Foster has rejoined Prestwick and Mal Higgenbotham and Steven Morgan can’t commit to the campaign.

East Lothian team

Rink 1: Chris Fallen, Dougie Mitchell, SA Thomson and Willie Wood.

Rink 2: Colin Cook, Dougie Berwick, David Oliver and Derek Oliver.

Rink 3: Les Middler, Stevie Clark, Andrew Jeffrey and Scott Kennedy.

Rink 4: Neil Pringle, Brian Wyllie, Alan Young and Graham Robertson

Meanwhile, Portobello made a winning start to their campaign in the East B section of the Seniors National League and they turned in a commanding away performance yesterday to beat Tweedbank 78-44.

But their Edinburgh rivals Bainfield faced a much tougher visit to the Meadowmill stadium at Tranent and suffered a 74-58 defeat at the hands of section favourites East Lothian.

Balbardie crushed Teviotdale 102-46 at Bathgate, while Midlothian impressed with a 63-56 win over West Lothian at Livingston.