Royals win another northern derby

THE Royals continue to hold a voodoo over their neighbours in the Nedgroup Trust Limited Scratch League.

Since the competition was founded, L’Ancresse Martellos have won just one ‘northern derby’ and that was in the inaugural year, 2017.

With no inter-island matches – club or representative – this season because of the coronavirus, Steve Mahy’s side have extra incentive to break the Royals’ stranglehold on the competition and it is odds-on that they will go on to meet again in the 2020 final, but they will have to improve markedly on Monday night’s showing against the champions if they are to end their reign.

On paper, it should have been a close match decided by the odd point here or there.

It turned into something of a rout as the Royals emerged 18-5 victors, taking three rubbers and earning a half in the other.

Admittedly, it looked as if it would be a much closer run contest on the front nine where there was little to separate the sides in terms of the scores and nothing between them in the nearest-the-pin bonuses on the seventh, where honours ended even with two points apiece.

But after the turn, the Royals upped the ante and pulled away from their big rivals to extend their perfect record to three wins from three and establish a strong lead at the top of the round-robin table.

On this occasion, captain Tom Le Huray opted to see their new recruit Dale Rutledge at first hand by joining forces with the New Zealander in the foursomes and the move paid off handsomely.

Rutledge had won his previous two singles rubbers in his debut season comfortably and he took that form into this clash against Arthur Evans and the younger Le Huray brother, Sam.

The Martellos pairing were barely given a sniff of a chance by their opponents, who completed their convincing 7 & 5 victory with five birdies in the space of eight holes.

As well as their winning bonus point, captain Le Huray added a nearest the pin at the seventh to their haul and he left that green pondering whether that was his first such point in all his Scratch League campaigns.

The other foursomes encounter proved to be the best rubber of the evening and fittingly ended all-square.

Fresh from his excellent opening round in his Club Championship on Saturday, Mahy teamed up with Sean Mills and, having started well with a birdie at the first, they held a 2 up advantage over Nigel Vaudin and Dave Jeffery at the turn.

The Royals pairing made an impressive up-and-down par save on the 12th to halve that deficit before Jeffery sunk a crucial 25ft downhill putt on the 16th to bring them level for the first time.

With the tension ramping up, the 17th was halved thanks to the suggestion of ‘shall we move on to an 18th shoot-out?’ when both sides were facing knee-tremblers for par.

Jeffery safely found the putting surface off the last tee, but was 40ft away from the back pin placement while Mahy put his approach halfway between the opposition’s ball and the hole.

Vaudin judged his putt well to guarantee the Royals a par, leaving Mills the chance to pinch the win from 20ft and his attempt threatened the hole but just died away at the end as it lost pace.

While that was going on, Royals were pulling clear in the two singles matches.

Island champion Jeremy Nicolle on the whole played nicely and came up with some clutch putts to keep Danny Bisson at arm’s length before finally seeing off his opponent at the 16th where Bisson found a fairway bunker.

Bisson had the consolation of taking both nearest-the-pin points.

In the anchor match, Daniel Griggs overcame a slow start and a one-hole deficit at the turn to defeat Danny Blondel, who was not firing on all cylinders.

Griggs won holes 10, 11 and 12 to forge ahead and when Blondel lost a ball on the 14th, the margin was suddenly three.

The Royals player wrapped things up with a good drive and then a five iron to 25ft on the 15th.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News