WEST LOTHIAN got their bid to win the Premier League’s indoor bowls title for a third time in a row under way with a battling 75-67 victory over Midlothian in their A section clash at Dalkeith.
The defending champions had to deal with the absence of high-profile players Neil and James Speirs, Thomas Mann, Bryan Cooper and Cameron Greer, but the team’s strength in depth has been a feature of their two previous title triumphs.
Midlothian had their own problems. Ace skip Colin Walker was already counted out as he was on managerial duty for Scotland’s Under 18 International Team, while there was a late blow as David Peacock had to pull out with a back injury.
“It meant that I had to reshape three of our four rinks including the promotion of young Danny McDougall to skip and although we gave a good account of ourselves we failed to hold West Lothian on the run in,” said manager Frank Gray.
Midlothian did manage to inflict the pain of defeat on two WL Fours with the rinks skipped by Ronnie Duncan and Sandy Knight having the measure of Calum Logan and Jamie Gracie respectively. The match scales were soon tipped in West Lothian’s favour, though, with wins for George Sneddon and Mark Allison over Billy Peacock and Danny McDougall.
The phase scoring shows Midlothian held to a 26-26 peel over the first seven ends then show promise with a 26-20 success on the second but West Lothian stole the show and the points with a strong 29-15 domination of the third.
Midlothian had kept West Lothian on the back foot for 17 ends but end 18 became significant with the visitors carding a 6-0 across the carpet that let them cross from 61-58 down to 64-61 up and from there they held on to win.
Sneddon picked up the pace from 12-12 after 13 ends with a run of 1, 2, 4 that inspired him to skip Paul Lynas, David Wilson Jnr and Stuart Johnston to a 24-15 win over Jamie Aitken, Lindsay Plenderleith, Craig Hodge and Peacock.
Allison still had it to do at 13-13 after 15 ends but broke the deadlock with a 3 then skipped Richard Mark, Scott Logan and Des Hagart to a 21-16 win over Robert Campbell, Scott Matthews, Kevin McDogall and Danny McDougall. Gracie and his rink of James Greenock, Blair Mackie and Raymond Logan were engaged in a ding-dong battle with Rob Crawford, Ian Fleming, Andrew Caldwell and Knight with the home rink just edging a 18-16 victory.
Logan and his front three of Stuart McMaster Ian Drysdale and Grant Knox were 13-5 down at one stage and lost 18-14 to Ian Forbes Drew Pearson Martin Wyllie and Duncan.