Bowls: Portobello’s youngsters stun big guns

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Portobello indoor bowls Junior Team have made their debut season in the East of Scotland League a memorable one by capturing the title at the expense of several top-notch clubs that include Bainfield, East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian.

East Fife, Falkirk and Abbeyview complete the League’s eight-team line up and with the outcome going right down to the wire it was a thrilling 5-2 home win over East Lothian in the final game of the seven match programme that tipped the scales in favour of Portobello – and demonstrated the strength in depth the sport has throughout the age groups.

Portobello faced great pressure going into that final fixture as they needed to bank a minimum of four points to overhaul leaders Abbeyview who had completed their programme.

It’s a three-rink team so Portobello had little margin for error and the pressures escalated when the rink of Lauren Davies aged 16, Robbie Jenkin, 11, Craig Logan, 15 and Dean Mackintosh, 15, suffered a 13-7 defeat.

Josh Spalding, 17, faced a 7-0 deficit after just two ends so there was sweat on the brow, however a brilliant take-out for a 5 at the third end sparked a spectacular transformation.

Spalding going on to skip Paul Archibald, 14, Craig Mackintosh, 11, and Max Rowell, 16, to a 23-9 victory that breathed life back into the Portobello challenge. The spotlight now swung full focus onto the rink of Lewis Betts, nine, Kieran Ward, 14, Ross Thomson, 15, and Liam McKay, 15, who held a title-winning position at 12-8 up playing the last end.

But panic grew in the ranks as the East Lothian skip pinned a lonely Portobello bowl to hold five shots then he a drew a sixth, however pandemonium broke out when McKay burnt the head with a fierce strike that won the title and sparked a Portobello invasion onto the carpet.

“We actually won all seven of our games and that included two massively influential 7-0 results – one away to Falkirk and one at home to West Lothian – so it is an achievement that we are extremely proud of,” said Stuart Betts who is a co-team convenor with Scott Mackintosh and Nicola Barclay.

The pool of Portobello players also included seven-year old Aaron Betts, and Chris Findlay who played in several fixtures. The final positions in the League were, Portobello 37 (+84), Abbeyview 35 (+141), East Fife 33 (+20), East Lothian 30 (+65), Midlosthian 24 (-43), West Lothian 19 (+6¼), Bainfield 16 (-20¼), Falkirk 2 (-253).

The Portobello record was, Home wins over Bainfield (5-2), East Fife (4-3), West Lothian (7-0), and East Lothian (5-2), and away wins over, Abbeyview (4-3), Falkirk (7-0) and Midlothian (5-2).