Bowls: Portobello scramble to narrow win

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Portobello ladies served up a stronger middle-match performance but a late dip left them scrambling a nerve-tingling 83-81 victory at home to East Lothian in Division 1C of the national bowls league.

It is a result that damages the prospects of East Lothian repeating their table-topping campaign of last season but also one that brings fresh impetus to a Portobello challenge now just two points adrift of joint leaders Bainfield and West Lothian.

“We have won all three of our home fixtures but lost two away so we have to remedy that situation to become serious contenders for a place in the knockout stage of the event,” said a spokeswoman for Portobello.

Portobello found themselves 12 shots adrift after an opening three-end blitz from an East Lothian team fired up by the need to stay in touch with the top of the table but the visitors flattered to deceive as they only managed to edge the first seven-end phase 30-27.

Portobello sensed they might have the measure of their more fancied opponents and responded in spectacular fashion to dominate the second phase 37-15, and so turn the match tables 19 shots in their favour.

But East Lothian were no spent force and stormed back to capture the third phase 36-19, however that left them nursing a 2 shot defeat having cut their deficit from a high of 22 with just five ends to play.

East Lothian will be frustrated by the fact that they won on three rinks – skipped by Nancy McNeil, Jeanette Fairnie and Emma Brown – but their combined 29-shot aggregate was wiped out by Portobello hero figure Isabel Anderson.

Anderson conducted a one-rink blitz for the home side as she skipped Jackie McFarlane, Zandra Kinnear and Margaret Murray to a majestic 40-9 victory over the luckless Diane Rowan’s rink.

East Lothian’s best effort came from McNeil who produced exciting acceleration from peels at 12 to skip June Rutherford, Nicola Thompson and Alicia Irvine to a 32-13 win over Harriet Munro. Fairnie’s rink was restricted to a 19-14 win over Barbara Kay and Brown had a 21-16 win over Rita Reid.