Sheffield Unionof Golf Clubs
Fast Start Propels Sheffield
Sheffield's Inter District side embraced the “unique” challenge of Beverley and East Riding Golf Club with relish, and recorded a 23-13 victory over their East Riding opponents, which puts them within sniffing distance of retaining the Inter District League title.
Leeds' 19-17 victory over Bradford means that victory over Harrogate must still be attained before Sheffield can celebrate a hat-trick of league titles, but the steamrollering form of Neil Stones's side will mean that they head to Sicklehome in two weeks full of confidence that they can reach their goal with a game to spare.
The natural terrain of Beverley is a ball-striker's paradise, and Sheffield's leading three foursomes pairs took full advantage. Matt Evans and Lewis Hollingworth teamed up in the top match to startling effect, and their 6&4 win set the tone for the rest of the side.
Charlie Daughtrey and Sam Rook took the second game on the 18th green, but Tim Brind and Neil Stones weren't prepared to spin things out for longer than necessary, finishing off the experience and youth combination of Alan Wright and Yorkshire Boys Captain Matty Raybould 4&3.
It wasn't until the fourth game of the morning that Sheffield allowed their hosts to register, and even then Dominic Moon and Abbeydale's Jack Liversidge battled hard for a half. Debutants Conor Clarke of Wheatley and Nikki George of Doncaster staged a remarkable comeback to earn a two up win in the sixth game, which meant that Sheffield's only foursomes defeat was for the Richards, Hanson and Hodgkinson, who battled hard to no avail, a sloppy three from the edge of the 17th condemning them to a 2&1 defeat.
The 9-3 advantage was not one that Sheffield were likely to relinquish, but having staged their own comeback from a similar deficit against Teesside, complacency was unlikely to take hold. Evans and Hollingworth led the way again, and again brought in maximum points. Sam Rook became yet another victim of Hessle's Alan Wright, now well into his fourth decade in the East Riding team, but victories in the middle order for Brind, Stones and Moon took Sheffield over the line, and although East Riding had slightly the better of the lower order, the final margin was comfortable.
“Pleased, relieved and excited,” was how Stones described himself over the post match refreshment. “I can't speak highly enough of those lads who came in for their debuts today, in a difficult and important game. A special hats off to Nikki George, he stuck in incredibly and got a brilliant win in the afternoon against a very good player.
“We were a man down because of Nick Poppleton's great run in the English Amateur, but one of the great things about this Sheffield side is that anyone who comes in is immediately made to feel part of the side.
“With one or two absentees, I was a bit nervous. But yet again, the lads put my nerves to rest.”
Harrogate will travel to Sickleholme with intent, a thumping 17-9 over Teesside meaning that they are enjoying a stand out season in their history, and one of three sides still able to take the title. Stones will be hoping for his troops once again to calm his nerves, and set up a party atmosphere for the final game at Halifax in early September.