Bowls: Livingston end 11-year wait for the Premier bowls title

LIVINGSTON men’s indoor bowlers have recaptured the Premier League title following a sparkling performance in beating Falkirk 88-65 in the play-off final in Paisley on Saturday.

The last of West Lothian’s four previous title wins came in 2001 so a fifth success was overdue and delivered in fine style with wins on all four rinks against a competent Falkirk side.

The winning skips Thomas Mann, Neil Speirs, Mark Allison, and Calum Logan all have an international reputation and others in the team of that ilk were George Sneddon, Cameron Greer and Jamie Gracie.

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Falkirk came into the final as winners of the B section and posed a real threat with well-known names like Steven Glen, Simon Thomson, Stuart Hogg and former WL favourites Ricky Forrest and Gary Smith.

West Lothian dwarfed their opponents in the department of overall class and historical achievement though and the pre-final question centred on the favourites sleepwalking into the match with complacency ready to be punished by a hungry opposition.

Falkirk did put up a strong show but never managed to get their nose in front of a West Lothian team that started with a bang in the shape of an 8-0 count on the first end and proceeded to parade their skills with great determination. The first seven-end phase was a real battle royal with the match balanced on a knife-edge at 26-26 then WL gained a hard-earned 31-22 advantage on the second before turning the screw to demonstrate a 31-17 authority on the third.

Thomas Mann had much to prove in front of the national selectors who had surprisingly dropped him from this season’s international campaign and the WL captain duly delivered with the highest winning contribution of the final.

Mann faced stiff opposition in the shape of Steven Glen but boosted by a great 4, 1, 1, 1 start to lead 7-0 went on to skip Cameron Greer, Ian Drysdale, and James Speirs to a 22-14 victory.

Logan, at 22, was the youngest skip on show but coped admirably well with the tensions of the occasion to pick up the pace from 10-10 after 14 ends to skip James Greenock, Jamie Gracie and George Sneddon to a 20-13 win over Simon Thomson.

Allison trailed 15-12 after 12 ends but hit the front with a mighty 5 at the next and then skipped Paul Lynas, Raymond Logan, and Stuart Johnston to a battling 24-19 win over Tom Cochrane.

Speirs still had it to do at 15-14 down after 15 ends but swept to the front with counts of 4 and 2 then hung on to skip Bryan Cooper, Scott Logan, and Des Hagart to a 22-19 win over Gary Flynn.