Yorkshire ladies make perfect start in English Women’s County Championship finals

Rotherham's Olivia Winnings gives Yorkshire team-mate Mia Eales-Smith (Lindrick) a piggy-back after the victory over Hampshire (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).
Rotherham's Olivia Winnings gives Yorkshire team-mate Mia Eales-Smith (Lindrick) a piggy-back after the victory over Hampshire (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).
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YORKSHIRE began their quest for the English Women’s County Championship with a 9-0 thrashing of Hampshire at Felixstowe Ferry.

Captain Fran Dickson’s side completed their whitewash when 14-year-old Mia Eales-Smith (Lindrick) eagled the 17th to win 2&1.

“She’s our pocket rocket and a very determined young lady,” said Alwoodley’s Dickson.

After a solid performance in the foursomes brought a 3-0 clean sweep, Yorkshire complemented the showing impressively in the singles.

Huddersfield’s Megan Lockett, the county’s champion in 2015, was four under par when she closed out her game 8&6.

Further wins came from Selby’s Megan Garland, the current Yorkshire title holder, Lockett’s Huddersfield club-mate Charlotte Heath, Woodsome Hall’s Nicola Slater and Olivia Winning, of Rotherham, who holed a long putt on the last to win a tight battle at the top of the order by one hole.

“There were some close times in the morning’s foursomes, the scoreline doesn’t always tell the story,” added Dickson, “but they’ve been amazing in the singles. They have played very well and consistently.

“But it’s early days and each day is a challenge. They are well aware of that and that nothing is easy.”

Champions Gloucestershire recorded an 8-1 win over hosts Suffolk while Nottinghamshire beat Buckinghamshire 5-4.

Gloucestershire won the title for the first time last year – on their sixth consecutive appearance at County Finals – and are intent on keeping the trophy.

Captain Andra Knight commented: “We are very excited and very keen to do our best to retain the title. But we do know we have very strong teams opposing us and that everyone else is keen to stop us.”

Suffolk women’s champion Alice Barlow prevented the whitewash when she won her singles game on the 18th.

It is the first time Suffolk have been at County Finals in 22 years and team captain Vanessa Bell, said: “We knew it was going to be tough and we did want to get more points on the board than we did, but I’m hoping it’s a good warm-up for the rest of the week.”

The third match was a close fight between Nottinghamshire and Buckinghamshire, which was decided only in Notts’ favour when the last pair reached the final green.

In the second round of matches, Yorkshire face Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire take on Hampshire, and Buckinghamshire will face Suffolk.