EP, Mpumalanga turn up the heat
Mpumalanga strengthened their bid for promotion at this year’s South African Junior Interprovincial by bagging two crucial second round victories while the Eastern Province caused the first major upset at Paarl Golf Club by beating defending champions Western Province on Tuesday.
After a crushing defeat to Central Gauteng on Monday, the Eastern Province side rebounded with a strong performance and a little cunning to beat Province 7-5.
“It’s like Christmas come early,” said skipper Michael Maybery. “We had the advantage of the wind against Central Gauteng yesterday but we didn’t use it and the loss really stung.
“We knew we had make a huge comeback if we wanted to stay in the hunt. Switching things up in the foursomes was a bit of a gamble but it really paid off for us.”
Manager Sieg Human elected to play Gelderbloem and Jacques Smith in the last foursomes game against Province top dogs Dylan Raubenheimer and Ian Snyman. It was a move that paid off handsomely and set up a 2.5 - 1.5 edge over Province ahead of the singles.
Province won the first game, but Alwyn Griebenow and Michael Maybery levelled the score by beating Meyer Pauw and Sean Bradley 2&1. Ronald Baxter and Hando Brophy put EP ahead with a 4&2 victory over Robert Bougas and Daniel Mantel.
“Granwell and Jacques did incredibly well against Dylan and Ian to halve that game and that gave the guys a lot of confidence going into the singles,” said Human.
“Michael defeated Province No 2 Snyman 3&2, Alwyn birdied the last to halve his match, Jacques birdied the 17th to win 2&1 and Wihan (Kleyn) also birdied the 17th to win 2&1. It was a hard-fought victory but now we are back in the fight. We’ve given ourselves a decent chance to challenge for the title.”
It was a narrow margin, but Gauteng North kept their winning run alive with a 6.5 - 5.5 result against KwaZulu-Natal, while Central Gauteng and Ekurhuleni took their 2-all foursomes status to a 6-all stalemate result.
Meanwhile Mpumalanga shared in the celebrations after beating North West 7 - 5 and crushing Border 9.5 - 2.5.
In the foursomes, Marco das Neves combined with Lonene Khoza to draw first blood for the team with a 3&1 victory against North West and a 4&3 result against Border. Xander Basson and Albert Venter followed suit, keeping the momentum alive with a 1-up result against North West and halving their game against Border. After the final pairing of Zander Gous and Thriston Lawrence signed off on two more points with a 2-up victory over Border and a 3&2 win over North West, the side took a 3-1 cushion over both challengers into the singles.
Although Mpumalanga lost their first three singles games, victories from Das Neves, Basson, Gous and Lawrence turned the tide for a 7 - 5 win and the bottom order also pulled through against Border, handing the Eastern Cape side a 9.5 - 2.5 drubbing.
“The top order came through in the foursomes and the bottom order was on fire this afternoon,” said the team manager Heidi Lawrence. “The guys set themselves a goal to win both matches, and I’m thrilled that they were able to deliver.”
Husband and co-team manager, Steven Lawrence, agreed. “The loss against Boland on Monday really stung, so it was good to bounce back with two wins. I have to admit that it was especially nice to beat North West, because they have been a thorn in our sides for the last four years.
“This is the best chance we’ve had in a few years to earn promotion and the players will give it everything they’ve got. This performance will give the side a lot of confidence.”
The North West Province did however gain the upper hand over Border in their foursomes and converted a 2.5 - 1.5 lead into a 7-5 victory, while Boland lost their one point advantage after the foursomes when Limpopo retaliated with a strong singles showing to win the match 7-5.