Edinburgh & Leith remain on top despite defeat

Mal Higginbotham steered his rink to victory
Mal Higginbotham steered his rink to victory
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Edinburgh & Leith failed to complete a hat-trick of opening wins in the Cities and Counties Bowls Championship but still sit top of their section despite a 111-103 defeat by East Lothian at Cockenzie & Port Seton.

The rink honours were shared 3-3 with James Hogg registering a double-figure triumph for the visitors that was supported by wins from Paul Veitch and Mal Higgenbotham.

But East Lothian banked the all-important match points with double-figure wins for Derek Oliver and John McCrorie earning the home side a supremacy that was supported by a battling success from Ian Bell.

“Defeat from one of our major East section rivals is a setback but it is encouraging that we remain in the driving seat,” said E&L team manager Willie Watson.

E&L were rocked back on their heels by an opening onslaught from the home side inspired by a spectacular 14-1 contribution from John McCrorie as East Lothian captured the first seven ends, 49-32.

The picture might well have been worse as East Lothian celebrated an 11-2 count across the green on end 5 that accelerated them into a massive lead of 30 shots, however, the visitors immediately hit back with a 10-1.

E&L did manage to steady the ship on the second phase and were right back in the hunt at one stage to be just two shots adrift after ten ends, however, a 12-0 massacre on end 11 forced them back onto the ropes at 14 down.

The visitors did edge the second phase by 38-37 to enter the final third 16 shots down and showed good spirit to dominate the run-in 33-25 but that wasn’t enough to stop East Lothian.

East Lothian team manager Ian Bell said: “We fought like lions out there against strong opposition. Having lost one already a win was vital to our campaign and we showed fantastic team spirit that was a joy to be part of.”

Derek Oliver was the major thorn in the E&L flesh with the Scotland Cap making hay on his own green to skip Adam Martin, Gordon Baillie and Glen Blair to a mighty 27-7 win over Kevin Tennant, Steven Pilley, Neil Watson and Paul O’Donnell.

The killer passage of play for O’Donnell and Co came from ends 7 to 13 with Oliver exploding into a 22-3 lead from 9-3 with a blitz run of 2, 2, 1, 1, 2, 4, 1 and, in a game to forget, the visitors only counted at five of the 21 ends.

John McCrorie also punished the visitors with the year 2000 national singles champion skipping Gordon White, Billy Dunleavey and Stevie Greenan into whopping 15-1 lead then on to a 23-13 win over Alan Trotter, George Kirk, Andrew Caldwell and Jamie Gracie.

Bell was kept much quieter by his E&L opposition but picked up from 11-10 down to skip John Gearty, Billy Cormack and Craig McLeod to an 18-16 win over Euan Craig, Gavin Smith, Colin Hutchison and Robert Marshall.

Hogg kept E&L in the picture and, inspired by a run of 5, 4, 4, 4, to lead 18-6, he skipped Josh Spalding, Robert Donaldson and Darren Hush to a 30-16 win over Billy Mellors.

Veitch led all the way to beat Scott Kennedy 19-12, while a double at the last saw Higgenbotham clinch an 18-15 victory over Craig Valentine.