Hampshire captain Colin Roope’s goal to win the South East League came another step closer after a fine win in the sweltering heat at Sussex, writes Andy Griffin.
And while the 8.5-3.5 scoreline may have flattered the visitors, Roope was delighted to keep their unbeaten run going into the final match in the South Division – against his old county Surrey at Hayling, on August 4.
Victory then will hand Hampshire a place in the South East League Final.
A second draw of the season would still leave Hampshire in the driving seat, as Kent or Dorset would have to win both their remaining games to have any hope of overhauling the English county champions’ superior game points total, having won 25 out of 36 so far.
After leading by a point after the foursomes, Hampshire's lead evaporated despite some strong displays.
Tom Robson had been two down but made four birdies on the spin to get to one up, while last year’s captain Martin Young was two down at the turn.
Only Meon Valley’s West of England Amateur champion George Saunders and Romsey debutant Owen Grimes, the new county champion, were in front.
Roope had also predicted that Young would be a crucial player for the team - and so it proved.
A delighted Roope said: 'It was a great result although a five-point winning margin makes it look more comfortable than it was.
'I was stood by the 10th and with the top two games going Sussex’s way, I was not sure where we could get four wins from. It was looking a bit grim for a while. It was great to be able to relay to the other players what a fight Martin was putting up.
'We picked up those four points after Robbo won 3&2 and Owen was four up in the penultimate match winning on the 15th.”
'Owen was great on his debut. He can be a little wayward off the tee, but he and Sam look like a natural foursomes partnership, and got a crucial half to give us a lead in the foursomes.
'Owen’s attitude is great – he just does not want to be beaten – and with his short game, he can make putts from anywhere. He did everything I asked of him and, in matchplay, he is very difficult to beat.'