In a repeat of last year’s deciding match, defending champions Scotland will play England on the final day of the Boys Home Internationals at Ballyliffin Golf Club in Donegal.
Scott Knowles’ Scotland side played hosts Ireland and came through the foursomes with a 3-2 lead before taking the singles 6-4 for a 9-6 victory overall. England were always favourites against Wales, who gave a good account of themselves despite losing 10-5.
For the second day winds reaching 45 miles per hour and gusting, plus heavy downpours made playing conditions extremely difficult on the exposed Glashedy Links. However, the teams stuck to their task and despite the weather making club selection tricky and putting greens challenging, there was plenty of fine play.
The Scotland side arrived at Ballyliffin with a quiet determination to repeat what they achieved in Conwy (Caernarvonshire) in Wales 12 months ago. Now they have the chance of further success as they and England are the only teams with 100 per cent records, after Wales and Ireland both lost twice.
“Our defence is going along very nicely at the moment,” said Knowles after coming off the course. “We’re set up for another great match against England on the final day. I’m sure the boys won’t need any extra motivation for that one, it should be a fantastic game.”
Derek Hughes’ England side, who have won this event on 14 occasions in the last 20 years, will be aiming to put last year’s defeat behind them.
“I’m just hoping it’s a different result,” said Hughes. “I know the boys will give 110 per cent and I know it will be a good, it always is against Scotland.
“The old rivalries come out, that’s what this is all about, but when it’s over everyone is friends again.”
Scotland won both the sessions against Ireland and one of their leading players, Jamie Stewart from Old Ranfurly, remains the only player to have played all four matches and retain a 100 per cent record.
He teamed up with Scottish Boys champion Eric McIntosh in the top foursomes match to defeat Thomas Mulligan and Ross Kelly, 3&2. In the afternoon singles he and Mulligan met again. Despite Mulligan struggling to keep pace with Stewart all day, the Irishman won three consecutive holes from the 15th to go down 18 all-square.
However, it was a bridge too far as the Scot splashed out of the greenside bunker to make par and Mulligan failed to get up and down to lose by one-hole.
There were other convincing Scottish wins, not least Darren Howie’s 7&6 triumph over Andrew Mulhall in the bottom match. New recruit Ben Ferguson won 3&2 against John Brady, while Sam Locke denied Alan Fahy by 4&3.
Rory Franssen’s one-hole win over Ross Kelly in the fourth match ensured Scotland’s victory, while Graeme Greer and Michael Lawrie also added to the tally with their halved matches.
England’s undefeated passage has also been relatively smooth after coming through the foursomes 3.5-1.5 before sealing victory against Wales by winning the singles 6.5-3.5.
Hughes was pleased with his top two players putting early points on the board. Charlie Strickland was rested for the foursomes but came out strong to deny Jacob Davies 4&3 in the top match, while Matty Lamb defeated Rowan Warren 5&3.
Wales’ Laurence Vargas, who was also rested for the foursomes, for he enjoyed a 4&3 victory over Oliver Clarke, who was left to rue a couple of bad decisions in difficult conditions.
There were also big wins for Callum Farr (6&5) and English Boys Open Amateur Strokeplay champion Angus Flanagan (7&6) who enjoyed respective victories against Harry Frazer and Luke Harries.
Undefeated John Gough halved his match against Wales’ Tomos Jones, securing the win for England, before Toby Briggs and Daniel O’Loughlin added further points.
“I’m pleased how the boys battled and we got a good result in the end. It was a very good team performance,” added Hughes.
On days like this Knowles was glad to be a spectator. “Conditions were even tougher today,” said the Scottish captain. “It really was so difficult. People who are not here will have no idea how tough the conditions were.
“The kids were hitting four and five irons 130 yards. And these guys are quality ball strikers. The wind and the rain really affected the ball. I’m glad I wasn’t playing.”
“I’m proud of the way the lads battled today. They have to continue doing what they’ve done the last two days, stay positive and keep calm. At the end of the day all they can do is their best and the rest will take care of itself.”
The final day gets underway from 8am with hosts Ireland against Wales before Scotland and England contest the deciding match.
For live scoring from the Boys Home Internationals, please visit championships.randa.org.