Bowls: E&L shrug off poor form to beat West Lothian
West Lothian had already clinched their place in the quarter-finals knockout stage so may have been inclined to take their foot off the accelerator, however, maintaining momentum was an alternative factor and the end judgement is that the match was 100percent competitive.
Morale in the E&L camp was understood to be low following yet another season of underperformance from the cream of the Capital city's bowlers so capitulation and a hiding was a fear in some quarters however they fought like lions and played like champions.
It could be argued that the thoroughbreds of E&L had found the perfect underfoot conditions for the first time this season with sunshine on their backs and the Deans green at Livingston running fast and true. Ideal for touch players and both teams had them.
E&L's 126-123 victory was a battling one but that gives it extra merit as, although the visitors impressively led from start to finish, they were constantly being pressed and had to withstand great pressure from WL but answered it with true grit and top drawer skills.
Gavin Smith was one of several outstanding E&L performers and caught the eye of most as he was parading his full range of exciting skills bang in front of the clubhouse and therefore the most populated area of banking.
"Times have been hard with the critics on our backs due to high expectations going unfulfilled so I am glad we finished on a high, and more importantly showed the real qualities and potential of our team", reflected E&L captain Mal Higgenbotham.
Underperforming has been an E&L sickness since losing the final of 2004 and a consequence of that and other selection issues is that close to half a team has dropped out of playing for the jersey. A major loss that despite the win over WL still needs to be addressed and remedied if E&L is to realise its potential to be world beaters.
"This result has warmed the cockles of our hearts but doesn't cloud the fact that E&L has issues to resolve and I will be pursuing them with my committee on an urgent basis," said vice president Kenny Black.
Wins on four rinks – skipped by Higgenbotham, Paul Veitch, James Hogg, and Paul O'Donnell – confirmed the authority of an E&L team absorbed setbacks for Robert Marshall and Colin Hutchison.
Marshall's defeat had one major redeeming factor in that WL were poised to hit the front on the penultimate end of the match but were repelled by the under-pressure E&L skip carding a mighty five.
E&L gave early signs of their positive attitude by storming into a 29-6 lead after just three ends.
They went on to capture the first seven-end phase, 59-34. Things then got tougher but E&L edged the second, 42-40 before losing the last, 49-35.