EAST Lothian bowlers and supporters descended on the National Bowling Centre, Ayr, last Sunday, writes Matt Osborne.

Stewart Johnston (Ormiston) and Emma Blyth (Tranent) would hit the ground running with wins in their opening two rounds.

Blyth claimed impressive victories against Carla Banks and Scottish international Rebecca Houston.

Johnston put the crowd through an emotional rollercoaster over his first three rounds, including a match lie against and a 21-20 victory.

Both would claim Tuesday morning spots in the semi-finals of the U25s and senior singles respectively.

Blyth was involved in a back and forth game against Arianna Mowat (Aberdeen Woodend).

East Lothian Courier: Emma BlythEmma Blyth

With a large crowd in support, the county bowler rallied and pulled the match back to trail 20-16.

Her third bowl of the final end turned the jack and agonisingly fell out to leave her opponent with the one shot required to claim a 21-16 win.

In contrast, Johnston held all the early aces as he pushed ahead of Slateford BC stalwart Gordon Ramsay, 15-10. The gap was further increased as he surged to a 19-12 lead to leave himself on the brink of the national final. Ramsay, to his credit, increased the pressure immensely over the closing ends, playing a wonder end to push the match all the way to the last end, with Johnston 20-18 ahead and favourite to progress.

The Edinburgh man held two shots in the head, only to swap hands with his third and looked to cover back play, fortuitously turning the jack five-feet through the rink and make three shots and the first match lie.

Johnston responded by drawing a match-saving third shot.

East Lothian Courier: Stewart JohnstonStewart Johnston

Ramsay once again swapped his hand and over the weight clashed with his own bowl to stay on the rink and once again force a match lie.

Johnston could only look on in disbelief as his last delivery sailed narrowly past the jack and into the ditch, as he agonisingly lost 21-20.

Both players continued East Lothian’s strong representation at the National finals.

Blyth will look to bounce back in a strong fashion as she returns in the ladies singles before the Port Seton ‘invasion’ takes over.

The club is represented in the pairs, triples, fours and ladies fours later in the week.

Aberlady ladies and Ormiston ladies complete East Lothian’s involvement in the fours and triples.