Devon Golf Seniors battled their way to a tight Senior Channel League win over previously unbeaten Gwent on Wednesday at the Monmouthshire GC in a game that went right down to the last few matches on the course.

There were two changes to the Devon side from the last game against Wiltshire, with Andre Hogan and Simon Waddington replaced by Dave Eva and Graham Ruth. To keep alive any chance of winning the League a win was mandatory.

The day could not have got off to a better start as Captain Colin Papworth (Teignmouth) and Tim Aggett (Warren) won 4 of the first 6 holes in the 9-holes foursomes matches against Welsh International Nigel Evans and his St Mellons clubmate Colin Watkins to put the first point on the board, closely followed by Torquay’s Peter Bicknell and Dave Eva (Thurlestone) beating Gwent’s other international Andy Williams, playing with Colin Haywood, the Devon duo winning on the last.

The other three games all came up the last 1 down. Richard Ward (Dainton Park) and Tony Allsopp (Tiverton) couldn’t rescue their game, losing to Chris Hunt and Phil Molton. Paul Vicary (Saunton) produced a superb chip out of the rough in a swale left of the green laying the ball dead to win the last and secure the half for he and Phil Lyons (Churston) against Rob Ware and Tony Horton. In the last game Graham Ruth (Tavistock) hit what looked a fantastic chip down and across the green which ran slightly further than expected, but Mark Haskell was up to the task, holing the resulting 6 footer again to win the last and halve their match with Rob Collett and Steve Morgan.

It wasn’t clear at the time just how crucial those two up and downs would be as Devon went into lunch with a slender 3-2 advantage.

Both sides led off with strength, Bicknell and Aggett playing the two internationals Williams and Evans. Peter played a truly solid game to defeat Williams at the 15th, but Evans was in no mood to lose twice in a day, beating Tim at the same hole. With Chris Hunt and Colin Hayward defeating Dave Eva and Richard Ward respectively Gwent were in front.

Captain Colin P was dormy 2 up on Colin Watkins and closed his game out on the 17th to tie the match up, whilst Tony Allsopp birdied 17 to go down the last 1 up on Rob Collett. Rob made a superb recovery from the trees for birdie, and when Tony’s birdie putt horseshoed out they had halved. Match now level.

Paul Vicary then appeared having defeated Tony Horton 5/4 in the last of the 10 singles, leaving matches 7,8 and 9 on the course. Devon up in one, down in one and level in one, all with 2 to go. Anyones.

Graham Ruth was level playing 17 and hit a great tee shot. Opponent Phil Molton somehow managed to hit the marker post 200+ yards away with his tee shot, and whilst it didn’t cost him a lot of distance in the grand scheme of things it did upset his focus, Graham winning the hole with a par. Both second shots to the par 5 last hole ended up in the face of a steep and unwelcoming bank short of the green, but Graham was able to make his par to win his match.

Mark Haskell had left the 17th tee 1 up against Gwent skipper Rob Ware, disappearing over the hill towards the green after a fine tee shot. All eyes up by the 18th green turned to the final tee; Mark had the honour, so still 1 up and a guaranteed half which would be enough to win the tie. As it turned out Rob couldn’t get the win he needed down that hole, Mark also winning 1 up.

Phil Lyons produced an outstanding up and down to halve the 16th and had gone up the 17th 1 down to Steve Morgan but couldn’t force the birdie he needed on either hole to get back to parity, the Gwent man winning down the last.

Devon emerged victorious by 8½ to 6½, keeping alive their chances in a league year when it seems any team can beat any other on a given day. It’s only a week to the next fixture, another must-win, this time against current League-leaders Gloucestershire at Teignmouth.

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