Just one weekend after the high of reaching the semi-finals of the indoor bowls national triples championship, the Balbardie IBC trio of Kim Ross, Sharon Leitch and Lorraine Malloy made a cruel exit in the Scottish Fours.
Joined by Catherine Lochran at second, the rink skipped by Malloy shaped up strongly in the playdown action at the West Lothian/Bainfield venues with commanding wins over East Lothian, Fintry and Midlothian taking them into the section final.
One more win would have taken them into the last four of the championship at Lanarkshire IBC on the weekend of March 28 but standing in their way was the Teviotdale rink of Betty Gibson, Ruth Jones, Joyce Dickey and Julie Forrest.
All looked fine and dandy for Glasgow 2014 internationalist Malloy and her front three with a ten-shot lead establishing their authority.
But Teviotdale had also reached the section final in impressive style via good wins over East Fife and Cumbernauld and in Forrest were under the direction of a legendary figure soon to be competing for a seventh title in the Singles and winner of 54 caps.
Forrest and Co fought their way back, but it still faced a three-shot deficit going in to the final end. However, the Border outfit posted a mighty count of five to win 21-19.
“It was a good five for them but a bad one for us and it left us devastated that, with the stakes as high as they were, we had blown a commanding double-figure lead and also failed to defend our winning position at the last end,” reflected Leitch for Balbardie.
Balbardie had opened their campaign with an astonishing 38-5 demolition of East Lothian in the prelim round, followed up with a 24-14 win over Fintry, then produced a brilliant performance to beat Midlothian giants Shona Johnstone, Grace McGergor, Jeanette Conlan and Sandra McLeish, 19-12.
McLeish was chasing a sixth title success in the event and had made an encouraging start to crush Sheena White, Ella Brydon, Jackie Ormiston and Marie Todd of Tweedbank, 24-6, and Charlotte Somerville (skip) of Headwell, 21-4.
Meanwhile the Bainfield rink of Karen Timberley, Beatty Eaton, Lily Murray and Marion Dickson walked over against Cowal in the prelim round at Whiteinch (Glasgow) but then suffered a 28-6 defeat by East Kilbride.
They were joined on the first-round sidelines by the West Lothian IBC rink of Crina Docherty, Irene Wright, Carole Clarkson and Margaret Russell who lost 31-11 to Ardrossan.
The semi-final line-up reads: Teviotdale v Galleon and Auchinleck v Elgin.