Champions Yorkshire stretched but remain team to beat in NCL

YORKSHIRE set themselves up for next month's Roses clash against Lancashire by maintaining their 100 per cent record in this season's Northern Counties League with a 10.5-7.5 win over Durham at South Shields.

Bracken Ghyll's Jack Lampkin won his foursomes match against Durham with Jamie Harrison (Rotherham) and halved the anchor match in the singles (Picture: Chris Stratford).

But the defending champions were given a tough battle with hosts Durham, who rallied in the afternoon, eventually ceding the singles session by just a point after losing the top two matches.

Captain Darryl Berry had seen his side lead 4-2 at lunch, with the foursomes proving a mirror image of the singles as Durham got a maximum return from the opening two games.

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English men’s amateur champion Dan Brown (Masham) and England B international Will Whiteoak (Shipley) went down 2&1 to Rhys Thompson (Boldon) and Chris Handy (South Moor) in the top encounter.

Yorkshire champion Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall) and Welsh Open Youth champion Bailey Gill (Lindrick) were bested by the same score by James Glenn (Brancepeth Castle) and Andrew Wilson (Wynyard).

Berry’s side responded to the minor crisis with wins in all four remaining morning matches.

Fulford’s Damon Coulson and Moortown’s Ben Firth were taken to the final hole while Hallowes’ Sam Bairstow and Barclay Brown (Hallamshire) were the most emphatic foursomes winners, returning a 4&3 victory.

Rotherham pair Matt Evans and Lewis Hollingworth triumphed 3&2, as did the experienced anchor pairing of another Rotherham player, Jamie Harrison, and Bracken Ghyll’s Jack Lampkin.

Yorkshire threatened to overwhelm Durham when Dan Brown and Whiteoak put further points on the board for the champions, and Gill then registered a victory after Hutchinson’s loss to Glenn.

But defeats for Barclay Brown, Firth, Bairstow and Harrison caused a few flutters that were ultimately calmed when wins from Coulson, Evans and Hollingworth were complemented by Lampkin’s half.

Yorkshire hold a two-point lead at the top and will look to make it three titles in succession – for the third time in the league’s 33-year history – by beating both Lancashire at Formby on August 12 and Cumbria at Hessle on September 2.