Old Thorns claim title defence

Old Thorns
Old Thorns
Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin

Gregory misses out

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Old Thorns celebrated the County Sevens’ 60th anniversary by becoming the first club to defend the Hampshire Inter-Club Knockout competition since Rowlands Castle back in 2002.

And in seeing off a brave challenge from Guernsey’s La Grande Mare, they completed a remarkable hat-trick of appearances in the finals.

Paul Martin

Paul Martin

It was Old Thorn’s Sevens’ captain Paul Martin, who was left doing a premature jig of delight as he watched his five-foot putt for par roll into bottom of the cup on the 18th to beat La Grande Mare’s Ross Bateman by one hole.

That gave the defending champions four points from the first five matches out on the course leaving Richard Williams and Matt Bonney to shake-hands with their Guernsey opponents.

Wiilliams had lost on the 17th to Paul Cosnett, who won the hole to go three up, before news spread back down the fairway.

Three of the first five matches reached the 18th green with only La Grande Mare’s CJ Elmy making light work of beating Old Thorns’ Roy Randall, going five up with three to play.

Robert Craig beat Wasif Annees by two holes after and Old Thorn’s Chris Knowles beat Louis Sheppard 2&1.

Paul Gill had to survive a soaking on the 17th when he slipped by the edge of the lake and went in up to above his knee, before regaining his composure to hang on to his one-hole advantage.

Richard Williams had been six down after nine against La Grande Mare’s Paul Cosnett, off five, but battled back bravely before losing on the 17th by three.

Bonney was one up in his match against the Guernsey club’s captain David Jeffrey as news spread of the victory.

He promptly took on his approach over the water at the penultimate hole, and when that ended up in the drink, he shook on a half.

Martin said: ‘We had three players from last year’s final in the team in Paul Gill, Robert Craig and Matt Bonney – I played in last year’s qualifying rounds but missed the final.

‘And three of the other four players from last year’s team were here to watch us in the final.

‘I think that shows what a wonderful team spirit there is at Old Thorns.

‘To win the Sevens in the 60th year when so few teams have successfully defended the title, makes our win even more satisfying.’