Portobello ladies put up a bold show against Premier League bowls giants Midlothian in the first round proper of The Scottish Cup at the Inveralmond stadium, Livingston, but failed to progress in a 92-83 defeat from the favourites.
Midlothian almost paid a devastating price for opting to leave bowls legend Carol Ashby and junior caps Stacey Laidlaw and Kelly McDougall on the sidelines having already lost the experience of top skip Agnes Melrose who was unavailable.
Wins for the Portobello rinks skipped by Harriet Munro and Isabel Anderson put Midlothian under great pressure which in the end was answered by winning runs from Dalkeith skips Sandra McLeish and Shona Johnstone.
McLeish emerged the saviour for the two-in-a-row champions of the elite Premier League with her rink in explosive form to win handsomely while Johnstone came from behind to add a single-figure success.
The Portobello challenge was even more admirable given that the Division 1 club was hit by a mid-match drama that saw ace lead Jackie McFarlane have to be substituted with Helen Gray because of illness. Others in the Portobello team were feeling a bit off colour but with only one substitute on hand they bravely battled on with great spirit.
Midlothian lead 43-22 after the first seven ends with three of their four rinks in the ascendancy and inspired by a 17-2 contribution from McLeish.
But Portobello raised their game to tie the second 27-27 then produced a magnificent 34-22 effort on the third, leaving Midlothian mighty relieved that McLeish was still doing brilliantly to save their skin.
She dominated the match, skipping Joyce Green, Margaret McLeod, and Norma Shillinglaw into a 24-2 lead after ten ends then still providing excellent cover for Midlothian at 28-6 after 14 before a fightback from Alison McDougall, Catherine Jones, Barbara Kay and skip Mary Brownlee was held off to finish 32-17.
Johnstone was 16-12 down but rallied Megan Grantham, Linda Anderson, and Lorraine Grant to a 22-19 win over Cathy McLeod, Margaret Keenan, Nicola Barclay and Rita Reid.
Meanwhile, Munro was providing the uplift for Portobello with the club champion leading 14-8 then skipping Izzy Dixon, Liz Parfinowski, and Cathy Ward to a 22-16 win over Dorothy Millar, Sandra Wilson, Janette McVicar and Dot Low.
Anderson coped with her mid-match commotion to skip Jackie McFarlane (Helen Gray), Zandra Kinnear, and Margaret Murray from 19-14 down to a 25-22 win over Doris Dempsey, Roma Blair, Mary Clements, and Gaynor Blair.
Midlothian’s next match is against East Fife who crushed Tweedbank 104-56 in the second round. West Lothian beat Alloa 107-58 and play Abbeyview who surprised Division 1D champions Balbardie, 85-65.