EAST Lothian players and supporters will descend on Ayr, Northfield this weekend as the 2023 national championships begin, with play starting this coming Sunday, writes Matt Osborne.

The following first-round fixtures have been announced:

  • Sunday: Gents Snr Fours – Cockburnspath v TBC, 9.30am; Emma Blyth (Tranent) v Carla Banks (Inverurie), noon, Green A, Rink 6; Danny Stevenson (EL Co-op) v Kyle Young (Cardonald), noon, Green B, Rink 4; Ladies Snr Fours – Aberlady v Whitefield, noon, Green D, Rink 4; Stewart Johnston (Ormiston) v David Rattary (Deantown), 2.30pm, Green B, Rink 4; Mag Thomson (Castlepark) v Lorraine Reynolds (Stenhousemuir), 5pm, Green A, Rink 2.
  • Monday: Mixed Pairs – Adam Martin and Laura McCrorie (Tranent) v Ferguslie, 9.30am, Green C, Rink 6.
  • Tuesday: Keith Fender (East Linton) v Scott Murray (Whitehall), 3pm, Green D, Rink 5; Gents Triples – Port Seton v Arbroath, 3.30pm, Green E, Rink 2.
  • Wednesday: Emma Blyth (Tranent) v Caitlyn Waddilove (Abbey), 9am, Green C, Rink 5. Ladies Fours – Aberlady v Monifieth, 9am, Green D, Rink 2; Ladies Triples – Ormiston v Dumbarton, 12.30pm, Green E, Rink 3; Gents Fours – Port Seton v Baxter Park, 3.30pm, Green B, Rink 6.
  • Thursday: Ladies Pairs – Port Seton v Guardbridge, noon, Green B, Rink 6; Gents Pairs – Derek Oliver & Steven Morgan (Port Seton) v Whitehall, 9am, Green D, Rink 4.

Meanwhile, Port Seton are the 2023 Top 5 winners after dethroning reigning East Lothian champions Haddington.

A 3-1 win over Tranent in the early-afternoon semi-final meant Port Seton would play the winner of West Barns and Haddington. With the game tied at 2-2, it would go to the wire in the final tie, Glenn Blair securing Haddington a final spot with a dramatic 21-20 win.

East Lothian Courier: Port Seton won the top 5Port Seton won the top 5 (Image: Contributed)

In the final, it looked set to go the distance. Blair once again delivered with a 21-15 win over Steven Morgan. Graham Archer saw off Mal Higginbotham by the same scoreline to level the tie 1-1. John Gearty beat Stuart Thomson, again by a 21-15 scoreline. That meant Port Seton would need just one more win from the remaining two ties.

Derek Oliver led Colin Dick 16-8 and looked to be coasting towards the win, but the Haddington man responded with eight unanswered shots to level the tie and put the result back in the balance.

Gordon Hunter and Craig Valentine battled it out and were locked at 19-19. Hunter looked to have Haddington over the line, lying a match-winning count and very little play left, only to see Port Seton’s ‘Valley’ deliver an expert last bowl and secure the two shots he needed, and the win Port Seton required to be crowned the 2023 Top 5 champions for East Lothian.

2022 East Lothian winners Haddington begin their quest for the national title this Sunday as they head to Stranraer to face the Stewartry district champions.

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There were celebrations for Haddington BC ladies’ section after toppling Aberlady in the East Lothian Top 6.

Aberlady looked to have control as their singles claimed a 21-13 win but Haddington responded with a 17-13 win in the pairs and a 28-6 victory in the triples to claim the title.

In the East Lothian Leagues, Port Seton and EL Co-op are locked level on points at the top of Division 1 this week, EL Co-op grabbing maximum points in the second Tranent derby of the season to draw level.

Haddington kept pace with the leading two with their third 8-0 win in succession. Winton remain bottom but did claim two points at Port Seton to remain within touching distance of Aberlady.

Tomorrow (Friday) sees the last fixture until after the national finals at Ayr, with teams looking to enter the break on a win. Port Seton head to Tranent, while EL Co-op welcome a resurgent East Linton. Haddington visit Elphinstone.

Ormiston look to have one foot back in Division 1 after last week’s 7-1 win at EL Co-op A propelled them 10 points clear at the top of Division 2 and 14 points above third-placed Port Seton A. Macmerry remain second despite a 6-2 loss at home to Tranent A. Port Seton A took full advantage as they claimed maximum spoils 8-0 away at North Berwick to move five points clear in third.

Macmerry and Port Seton A meet tomorrow with a change in the promotion places up for grabs. Ormiston host struggling North Berwick, who already look resigned to relegation this season.

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Haddington A remain top of Division 3 and hold a seven-point advantage over Castlepark A. Both secured 8-0 wins over Macmerry A and Athelstaneford respectively.

Haddington A tackle Athelstaneford in a clash that will cement a place at the top of the table or see the promotion candidates in a three-horse race. Castlepark A host Longniddry as they look to take advantage of any dropped points in the Haddington A v Athelstaneford fixture, but Longniddry will have their own ideas of a win propelling them into promotion contention themselves.

Macmerry A remain rooted to the bottom of the table but, with a likely league restructure in the post-season, their position in Division 3 remains in the balance.

Ormiston A had a statement 8-0 scoreline over Pathhead to sit top of Division 4 this week. Aberlady A drew 4-4 with struggling Dirleton but remain second.

West Barns A tackle Gullane this week as they look to keep pace with the promotion-chasing pack, the loser likely to be cut adrift.

Pathhead will look to put their promotion ambitions back on track when they head to Prestongrange C. Ormiston A visit Dirleton in the final games before the break.