England snatched victory by the tiny margin of a half point at the end of a thrilling last day’s play in the Women’s Home Internationals at Aberdovey, Wales.
England beat Wales, the hosts and defending champion, 61/2-21/2 on the third and final day’s play, while Ireland defeated Scotland by the same score. The results created a three-way tie between England, Ireland and Wales, who had each won two matches during the tournament – and a countback of game points won was required to settle the destination of the trophy.
England triumphed with 161/2 points, followed by Ireland on 16 and Wales on 141/2.
“For while we thought we’d lost by half a point,” said the delighted England captain, Chris Pascall. “But then I went into the championship office and they said ‘Congratulations! It has been the most exciting day’s golf and the play has been just fantastic with some quite stunning shots. The standard in the other match between Scotland and Ireland was equally as good.”
The result means England – with five new caps in the team - has done a double in the Home Internationals so far, winning both the girls’ and ladies’ titles. A victory by the senior team – who are already European champions - in their international matches at the end of the month would complete the set.
This is also England’s third win in the Women’s Home Internationals in four years and the team includes two members of the successful 2012 side: Gabriella Cowley and Alex Peters.
In the final day’s match, England got ahead in the foursomes, thanks to the pairings of Hollie Muse and Gemma Clews, and Sarah-Jane Boyd and Bethan Popel. Then, they dug very deep to take 41/2 points from the singles. They were unbeaten in the afternoon but the halved matches, in particular, were gritty affairs and crucial to the overall outcome.
India Clyburn, for example, was tested as her opponent birdied three of the closing holes but held her nerve admirably to hole a 12-footer on the 18th to halve her game. Gemma Clews was three down after seven, but didn’t lose another hole and gradually clawed back the deficit to finish all square.
In the other matches, Gabriella Cowley was four up with five to play when her opponent started a charge back with an eagle. But the England player held tight and won the 17th to close out the match. Alice Hewson was never behind in her match and Hollie Muse trailed only once, on the second, as they both played their way to wins. Sarah-Jane Boyd led throughout her match until her opponent won the last hole for a half – but the Welsh player could not deny England their overall victory.
The England team included five players who were making their debut at this level:
Gemma Clews (Delamere Forest), India Clyburn (Woodhall Spa), Alice Hewson (Berkhamsted), Hollie Muse (West Lancashire) and Bethan Popel (Long Ashton). The established internationals were: Sarah-Jane Boyd (Truro), Gabriella Cowley (Hanbury Manor) and Alex Peters (Notts Ladies’).
England results v Wales
Alexandra Peters & India Clyburn lost to Chloe Williams & Becky Harries 2 down
Hollie Muse & Gemma Clews beat Lauren Hillier & Rachel Lewis 4/2
Sarah-Jane Boyd & Bethan Popel beat Samantha Birks & Jess Evans 3/2
Gabriella Cowley beat Williams 3/1
Muse beat Birks 3/1
Clyburn halved with Hillier
Clews halved with Evans
Alice Hewson beat Megan Lockett 4/3
Boyd halved with Harries
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Caption (image © LGU): Chris Pascall (captain, centre) is surrounded by (from left) Gemma Clews, Bethan Popel, Alex Peters, Gabriella Cowley, Sarah-Jane Boyd, Steve Robinson (England coach) India Clyburn and Hollie Muse.