Bowls: Portobello ladies hold their nerve again under pressure

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Portobello ladies continue to enjoy an exciting campaign in the indoor bowls Scottish Cup having followed their nail-biting 77-73 win over Balbardie in the prelim round with a battling 80-69 win over West Lothian in the first-round proper.

A superb encounter at the Hutchison Crossway stadium in Edinburgh saw Portobello edge the spoils on two of the four rinks, with wins for Nicola Barclay and Rita Reid ensuring a second-round match against East Fife at East Lothian IBC.

May Brownlee and Barbara Kay were the two skips that failed to get the measure of their West Lothian opposition, going down to narrow defeats from Ann Clark and Wendy Purdie, respectively.

The opening exchanges were well balanced, with Portobello edging the first seven-end phase 23-21, but the seasiders cruised the second, 30-17, 
before losing the third, 31-27.

The phase statistics, however, hide the major drama that unfolded after end 17, with Portobello entering the 18th with a 10-shot lead (62-52) that was whittled down to zero as West Lothian wiped out the gap with counts across the carpet of 6-3, and 8-1 to stand all square at 66-66. End 20 and 21 were now crucial to the outcome and it was Portobello that rose magnificently to the challenge with a storming finish of 9-3 and 5-0. “It is a great feeling when you manage to pull out all the stops under extreme pressure to clinch a win,” said a 
spokeswoman for Portobello.

Barclay, a former national junior singles champion, was 8-6 down after nine ends, but recovered to score in 10 of the remaining 12 ends to skip Catherine McLeod, Rosemary Mackintosh and Irene Gray to a 23-12 win over Jenifer Richardson. Reid skipped Alison McDougall, Elizabeth Parfinowski and Margaret Keenan into a 9-5 lead against Jennifer Sneddon before going on to score a 19-12 victory.

Brownlee skipped Sandra Kinnear, Helen Melville and Margaret Murray into a 17-3 lead over Ann Clark after 11 ends, but ended up losing 22-19.

Kay and her rink of Jackie McFarlane, Isabel Anderson and Cathy Ward probably knew they were in for a tough match against former Bainfield star Wendy Purdie and so it proved, but from 23-13 down their 1, 4, 1 finish to 19 was a vital 
contribution.