Hamilton Trophy dreams dashed

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West Lothian’s 2014 dream of etching their name on the coveted Hamilton Trophy for an 11th time has been dashed by a strong Lanarkshire South opposition.

But slipping to defeat came only after a thrilling climax to the final of the Cities and Counties Championship played at Carrick Knowe.

The weather was dreich but the Carrick Knowe green was in perfect condition and both set of teams responded to the sense of occasion by serving up a cracking 126-end encounter that went right down to the wire.

Lanarkshire South triumphed 123-112 but the 11 shot margin was thanks to a powerful 12-2 response to the 111-110 challenge they faced with just four ends to be completed – two each on the WL rinks skipped by Thomas Mann and Sandy McDougall.

It was title number seven for the South banner and previously to that the united forces of Lanarkshire had captured the crown on seven occasions also.

Wins on the WL rinks skipped by Steven Fleming, Thomas Mann and Raymond Logan kept the East section champions in the picture but failed to cover the defeat of Gary Smith, Sandy McDougall and team captain Grant

The opening exchanges were a disaster for West Lothian with the opposition carding six shots against Grant Logan and five against Raymond Logan on the first end and the overall loss of 13-2 was followed by a 9-3 against to trail by 17 shots after two ends.

It was a situation tailor-made for Ian Campbell and his orchestrations were enhanced by the fact the one time Scotland captain was in direct opposition to former England star Gary Smith.

The running scoreboard was more reflective of the ebb and flow of the game and the match temperature soared to fever pitch when Mann carded a full house of eight on his 17th end that put WL in with a fighting chance.

It was a serious blow to Lanarkshire so it is to their credit they didn’t wobble but slogged it out with the 
final outcome on a knife-edge at 111-110 and WL with just Mann and McDougall left on the green.

Mann carded a double at his 20th end to edge WL into a single shot lead but that elation was dampened by McDougall losing a four.

Then the roof caved in with Mann dropping a five and McDougall a three.

Lanarkshire South were inspired by Campbell who rose to his own personal challenge leading 12-2 then going on to inflict 25-11 damage on Drew Paterson, Walter McDougall Stuart Johnston and Gary Smith.

McDougall and his front-three of Ewan Shearer, Scott Mushet and Gary Orr also struggled to get to grips with their opposition and crucially in the second half slipped from 11-11 to a 25-12 defeat from David Gardner.

Grant Logan and his rink were chasing from 11-3 down after six ends and did well enough to finish just five shots adrift in a 20-15 defeat.

Fleming carried the battle to the opposition and included a run of 3,2,4,2,4 then skipped Diz Drysdale, Alec Allan and Mark Allison to a 26-15 win.

Mann was deadlocked at 12-12 before a run of 2,2,8 as he went on to skip John Black, Scott McMaster and James Speirs to a 26-20 win.

Ray Logan was mostly against the collar but closed to 18-16 then carded 1,4,1 to skip Steven Forrest, Ian Drysdale and Blair Mackie to a 22-19 victory.