GOLF: Anglian League double delight for Northants men's teams
Northants men earned their first Anglian League double of the year as the first and second teams recorded two crushing wins against Suffolk.
With England internationals Ben Jones, Callum Farr and Robin Williams available for selection for the first time, the county first team produced a dominant display at Rookery Park GC.
By winning three of the four morning foursomes, and halving the other tie, the side were always in control as they backed up their away win at Norfolk at the start of the year with an 8-4 success.
It was a similar story for the second team at Kingsthorpe GC as they led 3-1 following the pairs, before showing their nerve in a collection of tight singles games to extend the advantage to 8½-3½.
NORTHANTS Ladies team will take many positives from Midlands South County Week at Kings Norton GC after recording two match wins - their first in the tournament since 2014.
Northants recorded two excellent 6-3 victories over Berkshire and Oxfordshire, but lost by the same scoreline to Warwickshire and the home county over the first four days.
The last match finished in a 6½-2½ defeat to Buckinghamshire, who claimed the first prize after remaining unbeaten throughout the week.
County girls champion Ellie Darnell forms part of a strong Northamptonshire team to face Hereford and Worcestershire at Gaudet Luce GC on July 23.
Becky MacLaren, Baylie Pyke, Katie Amos, Sinead Birks and Leah Ribano are part of the Scratch side, Sophie Copson, Charlotte Gilkes and Hannah Talbot are the Handicap players, while Chelsey Sharp, Ruby Smith and Ellie May Horsted are involved in the Experience team.
Ribano and Copson are also competing for the county the following week in the Junior Midland South event at Bichester GC as they join forces with Ashleigh Critchley, Gracie Murray, Elise Warden and Emily Horsted.
Both Critchley and Ribano are representing British Junior Golf Tour in the 2017 IMG Academy Junior World Championships this week in San Diego, California.
Kettering’s Critchley is competing in the Girls 11-12 Age category after winning the qualifier at Park Hill in March, while Northampton’s Ribano is playing in the Girls 13-14 Age group.
Bridget Jackson Bowl
County ladies player Natasha Ainsley-Thomas carded the joint-best second round of 69 as she finished ninth in the prestigious Bridget Jackson Bowl at Handsworth GC.
The Whittlebury Park member also struck the shot of the day on the Staffordshire course as she holed her approach shot for a rare albatross at the par five ninth hole.
Northants County inflicted a third consecutive whitewash defeat on Priors Hall in division one as the defending champions ran out convincing winners at home.
After losing 8-0 on their own course to Wellingborough last time, the Corby club’s hopes of avoiding another heavy defeat suffered an early blow as Harry Oddy took the opener, before Simon Blundell and Ben Smith won games two and three on the 18th.
From then onwards, it was all County as they stayed within two points of leaders Northampton, who recorded a 5½-2½ home victory over Peterborough Milton. Dean Roberts, Alex Izzard and Ross Skidmore enjoyed home wins, Gareth Parker added a half, before Charlie Salter and Lewis White wrapped up an excellent victory by taking the last two games.
NGL Ladies Intermediate & Bronze Championship
Miriam Johnson (Wellingborough) and Pat Bishton (Oundle) lifted the County Ladies Intermediate and Bronze titles respectively at Oundle GC.
Johnson’s score of 92 gave her a two shot cushion from Pauline Hurley (Elton Furze) and Kathryn Stronach (Kettering), while Bishton was the only Bronze player to beat the century mark on her home course.
Collingtree Park’s strong middle order made the difference in their home contest against Wellingborough as they extended their lead at the top of Group D with a 10-7 victory.
The visitors took games one and six, but wins from Anthony Brown and Mark Spring (one hole), Josh Sampson and Iain Tait (four holes), Jon Barnell and Michael Knight (two holes) and David Messom and Aled Owen (three holes) secured the plaudits for Collingtree.
Kingsthorpe missed an opportunity to overtake Group B leaders Cold Ashby as they crashed to a 16-5 away defeat to Daventry.
Trailing by a single point after the opening four ties, Kingsthorpe’s hopes disappeared when Peter Daniels and Chris Poolton clinched the penultimate game for Daventry by seven holes.
In Group C, Kettering moved two points clear at the top after getting the better of Peterborough Milton in a topsy-turvy 16-9 home match.
Although the hosts twice led by five points early on, the result remained in the balance until Bob Wood and Kevin Whitehead took the last game for Kettering by three holes.
Paul Fuller and Paul White were the most convincing winners for Cold Ashby in their Intermediate contest with Wellingborough as the team secured a one-point success at Kingsthorpe GC.
NGL Champion of Champions
Alec Francis (Brampton Heath) and Ryan Connolly (Wellingborough) booked their spots in the NGL Champion of Champions final after clinching their men’s Club Championship crowns.
Both players needed play-offs as Francis was successful against Stephen Field over three holes at Brampton after shooting 146, while Connolly edged out former county champion Mark Davis at Wellingborough.
Midland Boys Amateur Championship
TWO Northants County golfers finished in the top six at Blackwell GC. County men’s champion Charlie Salter was fourth with 144, while Liam McNeela finished tied sixth.