Basketball: Portobello edge thriller to go clear in promotion race

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Portobello edged a thrilling 80-78 home win over Whiteinch in a top-of-the-table clash that pushed them two points clear in the race to win promotion from Division 2B of the national indoor bowls leagues.

“The result was too close for comfort but it was a great game that could have gone either way,” said team selector Robert Wood.

“We managed to win on three rinks so that is encouraging. Our losing rink also played well but suffered rough justice at the hands of an opposition third player who was in fantastic form.

“And it is pleasing that our teenage brigade of Ross Thomson, Dean Mackintosh, Jamie Reid, Daniel Gormley and Josh Spalding continue to thrive.”

Ian Fleming was the skip that paid the heavy price of a 15-shot defeat but his setback was covered by the success of Andrew Caldwell, Stuart Betts and Willie McDonald.

Portobello are unbeaten after three games and their two-point lead over chief chasers Whiteinch and Headwell is enhanced by a superior shot margin of 30 and 102 respectively.

Portobello made a brilliant start with a 9-0 clean sweep and their lead in the opening stages peaked at 14 before settling for a 33-22 score on the first seven-end phase. Whiteinch then rattled the home cage in serious fashion to turn the tables with a 37-21 fightback on the second phase but, having trailed by ten shots at one stage, Portobello battled well to capture the third phase 26-19.

Caldwell skipped Jamie Reid, Dean Mackintosh and George Johnstone to a 24-15 win over Graham Stewart having sparked the rink’s performance with a mighty five at the third end.

“We found ourselves being pressed at 13-11 but responded with a six-end purple patch that saw us card 11 shots for the loss of a single to lead 24-12,” said Caldwell.

Betts made a tremendous start to skip Josh Spalding, Barry Smythe and Gordon Bold into an 11-0 lead but they were crossed 15-14 by a Whiteinch revival under skip Stuart Sloan.

Then the knife-edge state of the match was greatly influenced by a grandstand finish of 3, 2, 3 that swept Betts and Co to a 22-15 victory.

McDonald was kept under constant pressure by opposition skip Peter Murray but came off the back foot at 16-18 with a crucial 2, 1 finish to skip Daniel Gormley, BJ Smith and David Brown to a 19-18 win.

Meanwhile, Fleming and his rink of Robert Wood, Ross Thomson and Euan Murray were always against the collar in a 30-15 defeat from Callum Taggart.