Midlothian’s first stumble in Section A of the indoor bowls Premier League could prove to be a costly one as their narrow 84-86 defeat was at home and at the hands of chief rivals Blantyre.
Blantyre – almost invincible at home – become stronger title contenders when managing to win tough away challenges so to beat Midlothian at Dalkeith is a performance of the highest order and worthy of admiration.
The measure of the Blantryre effort across the four rinks makes good reading for them as they won the number of ends counted at 46/38, held two opposition rinks to a peel, lost one by a single shot, and enjoyed a three-shot supremacy on the other.
The phase scoring paints an accurate picture of intense drama with Midlothian answering the 25-23 loss of the first seven ends with a 29-25 reply on the second but forced to play second fiddle in their 26-22 loss of the third.
The developing picture on the master scoreboard after 11 of the 21 ends played (40-36) was pin sharp on two of the home rinks with Colin Walker leading 13-5 and Danny McDougall 14-7 but less so on the other two with Ronnie Duncan and Billy Peacock 12-6 and 12-7 in arrears, respectively.
Midlothian team manager Frank Gray reflected: “It was nip and tuck right down to the wire and the scales could have tipped either way.”
Walker and his rink of Ian Forbes, Paul Innes and Dougie Russell suffered a five-end blip of 2, 2, 1, 2, 1 to be peeled at 13-13 after 16 ends then, in a battle to the line, shared a 15-15 outcome with Jim McCann.
McDougall and his front three of Jaamie Macnab, Liam McKay and Jim Cullen collapsed to 21-18 down with losses of 2, 4, (4), 6, 1 but recovered with a strong finish to pip Brian Irvine 24-23.
Duncan added 1, 1, 5, 2, 1, to cross Nil Linton, AJ Knight and Andy Caldwell into an 18-12 lead but run-in losses of 1, 2, 1 saw them settle for an 18-18 peel with Iain McLean.
Peacock and his rink of Scott Runciman, Craig Hodge and Lindsay Plenderleith finished 1,4 but were always against the collar in a 20-17 defeat from Stewart Anderson.
Meanwhile, Bainfield’s battling 85-81 win at home to Lanarkshire inflicted a first defeat on the visitors and, after three games, both share the leading four-point mark with Blantyre and Midlothian.
The demotion of Balbardie from the Premier League to Division 1 South is a continuing nightmare for the Bathgate-based club as their latest 74-71 defeat at Ayr leaves them pointless after three games.