Yorkshire halve Lancashire’s advantage as they chase down Northern Counties title

YORKSHIRE and Lancashire will go into the final round of EGU Northern Counties League matches separated by just one game point, the slight advantage lying in Red Rose hands.

Hornsea's Luke Robinson secured a pivotal singles win for Yorkshire (Pictures: Chris Stratford).
Hornsea's Luke Robinson secured a pivotal singles win for Yorkshire (Pictures: Chris Stratford).

Yorkshire defeated Northumberland 12-6 at Cleveland on Saturday while Lancashire were beating Cumbria 11-7 at Ormskirk.

The Roses rivals have both won their three matches subsequent to the opening day tie between them at Hillside.

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Yorkshire eked out a one-point lead at Cleveland in the foursomes and the afternoon singles were balanced after two wins for each side when White Rose captain Darryl Berry shrewdly detected Hornsea’s Luke Robinson and Wath’s Nick Poppleton were involved in pivotal matches.

Yorkshire captain Darryl Berry.

He spoke to each on hole 14, offering encouragement, and Robinson’s response was to win there and at the next two holes for a 3&2 victory while Poppleton held his nerve to gain an invaluable half.

“If those two results had gone the wrong way it could have been a tight overall result,” said Berry.

“After they got a win and a half I knew we were going to have a good result because the back end were going really strong.”

Rotherham’s Jamie Harrison and Jack Lampkin (Ilkley) had won 7&5 in the final foursomes and each returned maximums for the day, Harrison winning 4&3 in the afternoon and Lampkin 7&6.

There were also singles wins for Yorkshire’s two teenagers in the team – Wheatley’s Kealan Lowe and Alex Fitzpatrick, of Hallamshire.

“In the foursomes I obviously had to make quite a few changes because we were missing England players and those over in the Europeans [championship in Slovakia],” said Berry.

“I had new pairings that were really good and a couple of standard ones that were unbelievable.

“Jack Lampkin and Jamie Harrison were brilliant again and Martin Brown and Luke Robinson seem to be a fantastic paring at the minute.”

Shipley’s Will Whiteoak got Yorkshire off to the desired start in the afternoon and was bogey free in beating City of Newcastle’s Phil Ridden 5&3.

“It was a good performance,” reflected his captain. “Kevin Tucker, England A squad’s manager, caddied for him and Will put on a good performance for him.”

Hull’s Steve Robins performed well in the second game but lost out to Northumberland’s captain Andrew Minnikin 2&1.

“Their captain’s had a good year to be fair and he just doesn’t do much wrong on the golf course,” said Berry. “That makes him hard to beat. Steve played really well, but just couldn’t get the result.”

Lowe had missed the previous Yorkshire match with injury, but returned and – playing at No 3 – got his third convincing singles victory.

“That’s quite high up and he produced another big result,” continued Berry. “He’s had three big singles wins – he doesn’t keep surprising me, because I know what he’s capable of, but he does keep delivering.”

Yorkshire’s final game is against Durham at Durham City while Lancashire will take on Cheshire at Wilmslow.

Cheshire, who have yet to play their fourth fixture with Durham, proved doughty opposition when beaten 11-7 at Ilkley by Yorkshire and could yet assist Berry’s side in their search for the title.

However, Berry commented: “We don’t want to rely on favours. If we can get a big, big win [against Durham] we should decide things for ourselves. Our intention going in will be to win 18-nil.

“I’m hoping I’ve got some of the England guys back for then as well. I should have a few back, but I’m not sure who.

“It makes it hard to drop players who’ve been winning, but we will be in a situation where we need to be aiming for an 18-nil and see what we can do from there.

“The way the lads have played this year, I think we deserve to get something out of the season, they’ve been really good. The lads have played brilliantly.”