Bowls: Porty stay on top after Forth crossing

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Portobello Gents found Headwell a tough nut to crack when they visited the Dunfermline venue in Division 1C of the indoor bowls national league but they landed enough hammer blows to re-cross the Forth Bridge celebrating a thrilling 83-81 victory.

Headwell have strong home form and did make life hot for the visitors on the rinks skipped by George Johnston and team captain Stuart Betts but winning contributions from Andrew Caldwell and Chris Steven were enough to carry Portobello over the line.

In an exciting climax home skip JJ Watson had the chance to tip the scales in favour of Headwell but a rather timid effort let the Edinburgh visitors off the hook.

Porty remain top of the table, one point ahead of Dunfermline club Abbeyview but they now face an anxious wait into the new year as the final fixture on January 19 is a confrontation with Abbeyview at Portobello.

The phase scoring at Headwell shows the Portobello resolve being tested by a 36-27 deficit after the first seven ends but the visitors answered the question with a 27-21 reply on the second then stayed resolute to edge the third, 29-24.

Johnston and his front-three of Andrew Davie, Barry Smythe and Kevin Hunter were given a tough time by JJ Watson having slipped gradually from 3-4 to 11-21 and suffering a 23-12 defeat.

Betts and his rink of David McLeod, Scott Rogers and David Brown were put through the wringer to sit 10-1 down after six ends but by end 20 they were still holding opposition skip Graeme Martin to nine shots at 21-12 adrift.

A swift transition from villains to heroes though saw a last-end miracle with Betts and Co carding a mighty 5 to lose 21-17 but handing Portobello a major boost to their scoring in the process.

Meanwhile, Steven had made a spectacular 4, 8, 1 start to skip Euan Murray, Dean Macintosh and Gordon Bold into a 13-0 lead over celebrated Headwell player Jim Roxburgh, however five zeroes later and the margin had been reduced to 13-10.

Steven and Co found a new lease of life with a run of 3, 2, 1 to 19, however, and then battled on to achieve a vital 27-19 victory.

Caldwell was hard pressed to stay in touch at 12-10 down after 12 ends but added 3, 3 to skip Ross Thomson, Billy Dunleavey and Ian Fleming into a 16-12 lead then, at 16-15, they made space with two explosive 4s and went on to win 27-18 against Colin Martin.

Elsewhere, the cut-throat battle between joint-seconds Abbeyview and Tweedbank saw the home team edge an 82-80 thriller that killed off the Border challengers.