Edinburgh & Leith’s hopes of capturing the Hamilton Trophy are doomed after a 125-107 defeat by Midlothian in the Cities and Counties Bowls Championship.
The setback at Northern follows losses to East Lothian and West Lothian and, with five of the seven matches completed, E&L president Ian Pickavance knows he won’t be lifting the silverware this season.
He said: “Expectations were high that we could emulate our title triumph of 2013 but, having lost to all three of our chief rivals, we have no chance of finishing in the top two of our section so my dream of delivering a victory speech is well and truly gone.”
E&L were favourites to win at Northern so it is greatly to the credit of Midlothian that the visitors inflicted defeat on four of the six home rinks, the skips to suffer being John McDermott, Mal Higgenbotham, Paul Veitch and team captain Paul O’Donnell.
Wins on the rinks skipped by James Hogg and Robert Marshall spared the blushes of a clean-sweep defeat in an overall match that did unfold with E&L still in with a shout at just nine shots adrift (90-81) entering the 16th end.
End 16 will be identified as the game-changing moment with Midlothian answering the growing menace of an E&L counter attack with an 8-2 response that pushed them into a morale-boosting 15-shot lead at 98-83.
It was the second time in the match that E&L were found wanting, the first coming on end 12 where they suffered a massive 13-0 against them that accelerated Midlothian into a galvanising 16-shot supremacy (77-61).
The top-performing rink in the match comprised Neil Linton, Scott Ritchie, Andrew Buerle and Colin Bonner of Midlothian, who led 14-2 and beat Stephen Pringle, David Fisher, Robert Donaldson and McDermott 25-9.
Other rink scores were: James Hogg 25, Craig Hodge 13; Robert Marshall 24, Colin Walker 19; Paul O’Donnell 17, Daniel McDougall 19; Paul Veitch 17, Scott Briggs 23; Mal Higgenbotham 15, Colin McFarlane 26.
Meanwhile, East Lothian retained their undefeated record in thrilling fashion with the section leaders escaping from the jaws of defeat with a fantastic 9-1 fightback on the final end across the green to snatch a 115-115 peel with West Lothian at Kirkliston.
An epic battle saw West Lothian adrift on only three of the 21 ends but they were unable to defend their peak lead of 12 shots up entering end 13.
The rink scores were: Thomas Mann 28, Alex Marshall 16; Ray Logan 18, John McCrorie 16; Stevie Fleming 16, Billy Mellors 18; Sandy McDougall 21, Brian Young 24; Grant Logan 18, Scott Kennedy 22; Andy Dunnett 14, Stevie Cochrane 19.
The East Section standings after five games are: East Lothian 9 +103; Borders 8 +73; West Lothian 7 +89; Midlothian 6 –24; E&L 4 +32; Stirling East 4 –13; Fife 2 –169; West Fife 0 –91.