Roope's relief after Hampshire clinch draw at De'ath
Captain Colin Roope was a relieved man after Hampshire fought back to clinch a draw in their South-East Counties League curtain-raiser against Dorset.
Sam De’ath’s 3&2 victory over Giles Legg at Remedy Oak ensured his side shared the spoils with their neighbouring county.
After drawing the foursome matches 2-2, Hampshire found themselves 6-2 down in the singles games.
But wins from Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson, Meon Valley’s George Saunders, Roope and De’ath sealed their side a point.
The skipper admitted he was disappointed Hampshire could only grab a draw.
He said: ‘If you had said to me last week you can take a point and avoid a defeat in my first game, I’d have been disappointed if I’m honest.
‘But Dorset have been getting stronger in recent years. Like us they have some very good mid-amateurs (over 35s) with Lee James, who won the British Amateur Championship, famously beating Gordon Sherry in 1994, now a regular in the team, adding lots of experience and ability.
‘We found out how hard Remedy Oak is during practice on Saturday. The green complexes are massive, some of the biggest we get to play on, even though we play a lot of the best traditional courses in the south.
‘They clearly play there a lot and their knowledge of the course came very much to the fore.
‘Even the best players struggle to produce their best golf in county matches.
‘The foursomes matches in the morning are always unpredictable.
‘It is about how you manage your game when that happens.
‘Having come out of the morning session level at 2-2, I was quite confident with my line-up sending out two of the Trevose team in Martin Young and Matt Wilcox – plus Jason Stokes who has been in good early-season form.
‘So to lose all four of the top games was a shock and left the bottom four guys with a lot to do as we could not afford even a half.’
Roope gave debuts to Corhampton junior Jamie Markwick, Jersey’s Jason Stokes and North Hants’ former US college ace De’ath.
Hampshire have now drawn against Dorset in the traditional season curtain-raiser three times in the past six years – having lost only once to their neighbours in the past 12 years.
Roope’s side travel to Shanklin & Sandown over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend to face Kent in their second clash of the season.
– ANDREW GRIFFIN