County success still on the agenda of Hampshire aces

Rowlands Castle's Darren Wright
Rowlands Castle's Darren Wright
Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin

Gregory misses out

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Darren Wright and Neil Raymond may have had the English Amateur title and Walker Cup selection on their minds this week but they’ll be equally determined to fire Hampshire to league glory.

On Sunday, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands travel to Royal Wimbledon for what is likely to prove to be the south division title decider, with a place in the EGU Daily Telegraph south-east group league final beckoning.

There, they will face Daily Telegraph Salver holders Surrey in their final league match of the season, with captain Alan Mew’s side keen to make it three wins out of three.

England aces Wright and Raymond – who finished as the top amateur last weekend’s Challenge Tour event at Stoke-by-Nayland – will be joined in the squad by Hayling’s England under-16 international Colin Walsh, Brokenhurst Manor’s county champion Martin Young and club-mate Jordan Ainley, Jon Watt, Stoneham’s two-time Hampshire Amateur champion Ryan Henley and the Army’s Sam Robertshawe.

Robertshawe joined Wright and Raymond in the matchplay stages of the English Amateur at Woburn yesterday.

But there was no such luck for Walshe, Young or Watt who all had to make their way back down the M1 after two disappointing days of qualifying.

That will mean the trio will be fresh for the challenge in south west London, leaving Mew hopeful that English Amateur Championship didn’t take too much out of his remaining picks.

‘Everyone is available to me which is good because, without doubt, Surrey have a lot of firepower,’ said Mew.

‘I have a good team to call on.

‘But, obviously, there could be some tiredness, depending on how far some of them go in the English Amateur this week.’

Mew’s opposite number, Mark Brooker, is faced with a similar dilemma, with his England stars Stiggy Hodgson and Steven Brown also involved in the knockout stages at Woburn.

Hampshire, IoW & CI have beaten Surrey five times over the past eight years and have won away from home three times in the last four fixtures.

However, 12 months ago Surrey inflicted a heavy defeat when the two sides travelled to La Moye, Jersey.

Victory on Sunday means Mew’s men could travel to Kent next month and lose their last match of the season but still reach the final on game points aggregate.

A draw would leave both sides still in with a chance of taking the south division title when Hampshire travel to Sundridge Park, in south east London, next month.

A first south east title for Mew would make up for the disappointment of missing out on a place in the English County finals for a second year running, after his side could only finish eighth in the south east qualifier, at Ashridge.

Hampshire last reached the Telegraph final two years ago, but were forced to share the Salver after a draw with Hertfordshire at Hankley Common.