Yorkshire warm up for Roses rivalry with emphatic win over Durham

YORKSHIRE began the defence of their Northern Counties Match Week title in impressive fashion, defeating Durham 7.5-1.5 at Morecambe.

Woodsome Hall's Nicola Slater, right, made a winning Match Week debut for Yorkshire.

The foursomes pairings formulated by captain Fran Dickson (Alwoodley) and coach Steve Robinson (Sandburn Hall) for the crucial first session proved spot on.

Huddersfield’s Megan Lockett and Olivia Winning (Rotherham) won 6&4 to set the tone and Selby’s Megan Garland and Holly Morgan (Hallamshire) added a 2&1 victory while Hannah Holden (Huddersfield) and Melissa Wood, of Woodsome Hall, were victorious 3&1.

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Lockett, Winning and Holden also enjoyed maximum returns from their singles matches, as did Nicola Slater (Woodsome Hall) on her debut, while reigning Yorkshire champion Garland earned a half.

“It’s always difficult, the first morning – well, the first day, really,” said Dickson.

“Everybody is just a bit nervous and they want to get going, and it was hot – lovely, but really hot. That was a bit of a challenge for those who played 36 holes.

“There were some tight matches in the afternoon. Durham came out after losing the foursomes 3-0 with nothing to lose and they gave us some good matches, so it was a good day all round.

“I wouldn’t say the girls showed nerves, but it took them a little time to settle – but they certainly did settle and they produced some stunning golf.

“The heat was draining, and you have to make sure the girls have got enough sun cream on and are drinking enough water because young people aren’t always as aware.”

Robinson accompanied Yorkshire’s first foursomes pairing, Dickson’s vice-captain Helen Lilley (Sickleholme) went out with the second, and her predecessor Dawn Clegg (York) caddied in the third match, and kept notes with which to appraise Dickson.

“Once Steve had seen the top pair were okay, he dropped back to the other two,” said Dickson. “I have lots of other jobs to do so I can’t follow a particular match.

“I tend to try to pick them up at the fourth and the seventh holes and watch a few holes of each one. I always try to be there when they win.

“It’s a hilly, parkland course so it’s quite challenging stamina-wise and there are no buggies. It would be easier if we had buggies, but you have to walk it all and that’s quite hard. But there’s a good vantage point where you can see about four or five holes.”

Next up are Lancashire and Dickson continued: “Obviously that’s a big rivalry so I’ll have to have a chat with Steve to come up with the pairings.”

Lindrick’s Bailey Gill spearheaded a strong showing from the seven Yorkshire players looking to qualify for the match play stages of the Amateur Championship.

Gill shot a two-under-par 70 at Princes while English men’s amateur champion Dan Brown (Masham), Yorkshire champion Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall) and Shipley’s Will Whiteoak all carded two-over 72 at Royal St George’s where Wath’s Nick Poppleton had a 73 and Moortown’s David Houlding a 76.

The Oaks’ James Walker had a 74 at Prince’s.

The top 64 players and ties for 64th place progress to the match play stage at St George’s.