BALBARDIE have promotion to the premier league firmly within their grasp having risen to the challenge of toppling Division 1B leaders Bainfield when the teams clashed at Bathgate last weekend.
Bainfield were the pre-season favourites to bounce back up to the top flight and after a poor start to their campaign seemed strongly back on course.
But Bainfield team manager John Bell knew that Balbardie would be no pushover so was extremely distressed that his team lacked fire in their bellies and crashed to a 75-58 defeat from Balbardie team that showed greater stomach for a fight.
Balbardie will now defend a two-point lead going into the final fixtures but the Bathgate based club face an awkward challenge away to early league leaders Alloa while Bainfield finish with home advantage over Stirling.
Bainfield made a reasonable start at Bathgate to lead by six shots after two ends but Balbardie hit the front at the third then made steady progress to peak at 20 up over the 12th 13th and 14th ends before coasting to a comfortable 17 shot success.
The first phase was closely fought with Balbardie edging it 27-23 but the home side dominated the second 27-11 then trading on the 20 shot cushion were content to lose the third 24-21.
Wins for the rinks skipped by Graeme Byrne and Walter McDougall were the significant contributions that secured a home win against the backdrop of a peel for Ewan Shearer and seven shot defeat for Sandy McDougall.
Byrne emerged the highest flyer for Balbardie and the signs of a good day being in store came early as he skipped Colin Fraser Davie Ross and Diz Drysdale into a 16-4 lead after 13 ends against Craig Paterson Stuart Patterson Alan Brown and McLeod.
Byrne and company capped a solid performance by dropping only six of the 21 ends and celebrating a significant 24-7 victory.
Walter McDougall came good with a turnaround run of 1, 3, 1, 2, 1 to skip Ian Drysdale Hugh Marshall and Gerry Duggan into an 11-7 lead then came back under pressure at 12-13. However a strong finish of 1, 1, 2, 1 2, 1 saw them score a 20-13 victory.
Shearer and his rink of Gary Orr,Kenny Martin and Andy Forrest looked set for victory at 14-9 up but the loss of 2, 2, 1 on the run in forced them to settle for a 14-14 peel with Graeme McIntosh Gary Purdie Brian Stoddart and Robert Marshall.
Sandy McDougall also went well to skip Lawson Trotter Mark Bonar and David Lawrie into a 14-7 lead but a second have wobble included the loss of a five and they tumbled to a 24-17 defeat from Chris Downie Jamie Aitken Colin Hutchison and Gavin Smith.
West Lothian IBC kept themselves in the race for the qualifying honours from section A of the premier league with a commendable 16 shot victory (84-68) over the highly competitive Prestwick at Inveralmond.
Lanarkshire remain favourites having retained their two-point advantage with a 91-64 home win over Midlothian.
Wins for the rinks skipped by Thomas Mann, Neil Speirs, and Mark Allison kept Prestwick at bay despite the visitors scoring a double figure win over George Sneddon.
The phase scoring saw West Lothian make a positive impression on all three.
Mann finished like a train, carding 1, 6, 1, 3, 2 as he skipped Paul Lynas Des Hagart and Raymond Logan to a 27-11 win over Drew Boyd. Speirs started with an explosive bang having opened 5,3, n then soon adding 2, 2, 3, 1 to skip Cameron Greer James Greenock and James Speirs into an 18-3 lead before settling for a good 26-17 win over Craig England.
Allison and his rink of Bryan Cooper Richard Mark and Cameron Logan looked hot at 18-7 but a five end cooling down saw them holding on to beat Robert McCulloch, 18-16.
Sneddon and his front three of David Wilson Blair Mackie and Stuart Johnston found life a struggle against Paul Boyd and suffered a 24-13 defeat.
Meanwhile four-in-a-row champions East Lothian slipped up to Coatbridge where a 68-68 peel has handed the top of the table advantage to a Blantyre team that now leads by a point and finish the section at home to Coatbridge.