Douit Dodgers inflict a first defeat on Royals since 2018

THE Douit Dodgers saved their best for last.

On their home track on Monday night, La Grande Mare inflicted the Rocque Balan Royals’ first Nedgroup Trust Limited Scratch League defeat for two years and, if you believe in such things, it was perhaps a result of good karma that Tim Halden and Neil Black were pivotal to the success.

A week earlier against L’Ancresse Martellos, the pair sportingly shook hands on a half in their foursomes match after the hosts had required a substitute to step in for Sean Mills after he was called away midway through the match.

Fast forward seven days and LGM captain Karl Ogier opted to send Halden and Black out in the singles against the champions and they rose to the task magnificently.

From his opening tee shot it was obvious that Halden was striking the ball sweetly and, having picked up the nearest-the-pin bonus point, he walked off the sixth green 4 up on Island player Roland Mills.

Having established that early lead, the home player was able to keep Mills, a renowned battler, at arm’s length for the rest of the evening.

The margin was back down to two when they arrived at the 16th and, having lagged up his length birdie putt to a couple of feet, the Royals man must have fancied his chances of getting within one when Halden had a rush of blood with his first putt and slammed it 10ft past.

However, seemingly far more annoyed at himself rather than nervous, Halden found the centre of the cup with his return to maintain his cushion and go dormy.

A cracking tee shot from Mills at the 17th ensured he picked up a losing bonus for taking the match to the 18th, but three fine shots down the last put his opponent within 5ft and the concession came.

In the final rubber out, Black was the most dominant winner of the night, claiming a maximum seven-point haul against Emile Thompson.

They started with a half in pars, but as soon as Black rolled in a 15ft birdie putt on the second he was in control.

He followed it immediately with another birdie and went on to pick up his first nearest-the-pin bonus with perfect distance control on the sixth.

By the time he added his second such point on the 11th, he was 5 up and he completed his victory on the 15th.

It is a sign of the Royals’ strength in depth that Thompson had the man who pipped him to L’Ancresse Open glory, Daniel Griggs, on his bag while team captain Tom Le Huray and Dale Rutledge both watched on from the sidelines and they still managed to put out two winning foursomes combinations.

There was some solid golf from both pairs in the top rubber which went as far as the 17th before Nigel Vaudin and Dave Jeffery closed out their win over Louis Sheppard and Ben Hibbins.

Behind them, Jeremy Nicolle and Wayne Harwood joined forces to good effect to beat the youthful combination of CJ Elmy and Ollie Chedhomme.

There was some consolation for the Island junior champion, though, as he produced the best tee shot of the night at the 11th, knocking it to inside 20ft to pick up a bonus point.

While the Douit Dodgers can take a lot of pride with the way they finished the round-robin, the Royals can now look forward to their fourth consecutive final against their neighbours the Martellos on a date to be arranged.

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