Lewis Betts wins East Lothian junior crown after a nailbiter

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The East Lothian Men’s Junior Singles final at The Alex Marshall Arena was a nailbiter of the highest class.

Lewis Betts and Craig Mackintosh are both highly skilled and the battle for a title supremacy that would lead to a national campaign in 2017/18 went right down to the wire in an epic encounter that lasted a marathon 29 ends.

The opening exchanges were keenly fought with peels called at 4-4 after six ends, 6-6 after nine ends, then 8-8 after 12.

Mackintosh thrilled the crowded banking with a magic run of 1, 2, 3 that thrust him into a clear 14-8 lead but a crackerjack response from Betts came in the shape of 2, 1, 1, 1 fightback to 13-14 after 19 ends.

End 20 turned the spotlight back on Mackintosh who answered the pressure with a register of three shots followed by a single that brought him into sight of the title at 18-13.

Betts hung in with a double to 15 but the momentum stayed with Mackintosh who added two singles to have the title in the palm of his hands at 20-15 after 24 ends.

But, with hardly any margin for error, Betts kept the hushed crowd spellbound as he stole the show and the title with a grandstand finish of 1, 1, 1, 1, 2 to snatch a 21-20 victory on the line.

There had been a terrific scene setter to the clash between the teenagers as earlier in finals week they had locked horns in what turned out to be a 20-end thriller for the capture of the Under 17s crown.

Betts carded a 4 at the second end but Mackintosh matched that at the seventh and having also carded two 3s and a single led 11-6. However, ever Betts regained the lead with a counter punch rally of 2, 2, 1, 2 to cross 13-11.

Having reached the graveyard figure of 13 Betts was kept trapped there for five eventful ends and suffered a 2, 1, 2, 1, 1 punishment from a Mackintosh response that accelerated him into an 18-13 lead.

The melting pot sizzled when Betts staged a 4, 1 escape to level at 18-18 but the knockout punch was delivered by Mackintosh who landed a brilliant 1, 2 combination to clinch a 21-18 victory.

Betts was obviously over the moon when turning the tables in his favour in the big event, however, in a challenging week, he had already bagged The Under 18 Singles title – and doing so at the expense of his young brother Aaron.

“I led 15-7 after 14 ends but was in danger of losing the bragging rights at home when closed to 15-12. However, I clobbered Aaron with 4 to 19 then three end late carded a 2 to win 21-15 in 21 ends.