THE East Lothian district finals took place at the weekend, with the ladies taking centre stage on Saturday at Castlepark and the gents on Sunday afternoon at Haddington Bowling Club, writes Matt Osborne.

The winners now move forward to represent East Lothian at the Scottish national finals at Ayr, Northfield, with play scheduled from July 23 to 29.

Reigning junior champion Danny Stevenson (EL Co-op) will be heading back to Northfield in defence of his 2022 crown after victory over club-mate Keiran Dodds.

It was a district secretary double as Mags Thomson and Keith Fender, both Bowls Scotland officials, claimed their places in the senior singles and gents’ singles respectively.

Thomson (Castlepark) saw off the challenge of friend Janet Fairnie 21-14, while Fender (East Linton) claimed his spot with a 21-20 nail-biter over Brian Forbes Jnr (EL Co-op).

East Lothian Courier: Aberlady enjoyed success in the ladies foursAberlady enjoyed success in the ladies fours

Aberlady ladies’ fours will be looking to better their bronze medal from last year as they once again head back to Ayr following a 17-15 win over Macmerry. They will be joined by their senior four following their win over Haddington.

East Lothian newcomer Emma Blyth (Tranent) continued her excellent season, qualifying in the junior singles and ladies’ singles with back-to-back wins over Beth Riva (Gifford) in both finals.

Sister pairing Leanne Watt and Lauren Baillie-Whyte (Port Seton) lead the way for an exceptional weekend for their club, claiming the pairs with a 22-11 win over East Linton.

They would later be joined by Port Seton team-mates in the gents’ pairs, triples and fours to see 11 qualify for the national finals.

East Lothian Courier: Port Seton were celebrating success in the gents foursPort Seton were celebrating success in the gents fours

Darren Donnely, John Gearty and Steven Thomson recovered from an early setback, trailing 9-2, in the triples to claim their spot with an 18-10 win over Ormiston.

The four of Michael Greenan, Jamie Gordon, Craig Valentine and Graeme Archer added their name to the national finals draw with a win over Prestongrange.

Cockburnspath have something to celebrate in their 2023 season. After struggling in their Friday evening league campaign, they claimed the senior fours district title with a last-end dramatic win over Aberlady.

East Lothian Courier: Cockburnspath were victorious in the senior foursCockburnspath were victorious in the senior fours

Stewart Johnston (Ormiston) claimed the seniors singles with a 21-19 victory over John McCrorie (Tranent).

After dispatching reigning national champion Ian Thorburn (West Barns) in the semi-final, Johnston was hopeful of a return to Ayr but found himself trailing 13-5 early in the contest.

A run of 11 shots without reply saw him lead 16-13 and the tie looked destined to go the distance as the players were locked together at 19-19.

Johnston could barely place his first two bowls any better to lie the match, opting to cover and then block with his third and fourth.

The two bowls proved the difference as he closed out a 21-19 victory.