England maintained their 100 per cent record with a convincing 10.5-4.5 win against Wales, while Scotland kept their nerve to secure a dramatic 8-7 win over holders Ireland on the second day of the Boys Home Internationals at Western Gailes Golf Club in Ayrshire.
With two victories England are in the driving seat as Derek Hughes’ side look to win the prestigious team title for the third time in four years. However, they will have to overcome Roy Archibald’s young Ireland side, who won at Forest Pines in Lincolnshire 12 months ago.
With one win apiece, Scotland and Ireland can still win but results must go in their favour on the final day. For Wales, who have never won the Boys Home Internationals, they will look to end the week on a high against Scotland, who in turn are seeking their first win since 2006 at Moray.
On paper England’s result looked decisive but there were many spirited performances, not least from Wales’ Rhys Jones, who came back from five-down after 11 holes to halve his match with the experienced Jack Singh Brar.
“Rhys has been struggling for confidence recently so to come back the way he did against someone of Jack’s quality was tremendous really,” said Wales captain Chris King. “To me, that sums up the character in the team, even if the results haven’t gone our way.”
There were some notable singles victories by England with Marco Penge defeating Ben Chamberlain 6 and 5, while Bradley Moore’s 4 and 2 win over Thomas Froom maintained his personal 100 per cent record. (Ireland’s Kevin Leblanc and Rowan Lester and Scotland’s Adam Fisher are the only other players with four wins from four).
“It ended up a good win for us but some matches were tight,” explained Hughes as England took a 3-2 lead from the morning foursomes into the singles. “The boys knuckled down on a difficult course. Some of those bigger winning margins demonstrated how well the boys applied themselves.
“We know everyone wants to beat England and that expectation carries its own pressure, but it’s also good motivation for us,” added the captain, who is looking forward to the challenge against Ireland.
“It’s going to be a tough match as always. We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep the ball on the short stuff and find greens. If we do that we’ll be difficult to beat. So long as our lads try their best I can’t ask for any more than that.”
Scotland had an entertaining route to victory against Ireland, which was only confirmed when George Burns halved the final singles match against Eoin Leonard. Like England, Scott Knowles’ side took a 3-2 lead into the singles where both sides traded early blows. Junior Open champion Leblanc got the better of 2013 Boys Amateur champion Ewen Ferguson, 4 and 3, in the top match, while lefthander Robert MacIntyre defeated Ireland’s James Sugrue by the same margin. Scotland edged closer to victory with wins from Murray Naysmith (4 and 3), Fisher (3 and 2) and Stuart Easton (5 and 4) in the middle order before the final matches came alive.
The game between Peter Kerr and Ryan Lumsden could have gone either way before they eventually halved, while Cathal Butler’s two-holes win over Calum Fyfe in the penultimate match kept Ireland’s faint hopes alive. “There was drama to the very end, right down to the last putt in the last match, which is what it’s all about,” enthused Knowles after witnessing Burns secure the important halved match.
“Credit to both sets of players, the golf was of a high standard in testing conditions. It was fitting that the outcome came down to two of the in-form players.
“There were so many high points through the day but George (Burns) pitching in at 17 to get back to all-square was huge, as was Ryan (Lumsden) battling all the way to the 18th to square his match.”