NOBODY can ever accuse Halifax-Huddersfield Union junior team boss Tommy Ward of failing to prepare his side properly.
Ward is determined that his team, beaten 22-14 by a Teesside line-up clinching the Yorkshire Inter-District Union title at Bishop Auckland last Friday, should finish the season on a high in tomorrow’s Six-Man Team Championship at Keighley GC.
Halifax-Huddersfield are likely to be heavily outgunned on handicap, with star pair Jamie Bower and Nick Marsh having had bigger fish to fry this season, but Ward will ensure his players are in the right frame of mind as they renew rivalry with Teesside, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, East Riding and Harrogate.
Halifax’s Jamie Smith, Marsden’s Ethan Shaw, West End’s Brad Hardcastle, Huiddersfield’s Tom Williams and Michael Major and Bradley Hall’s Josh Bailles are the players who will be on duty with every shot to count over the 36-hole contest.
The sextet were having a five-hour course management session with John Eyre yesterday.
The Woodsome Hall pro knows the Keighley course well and, armed with yardage charts, he gave the players instructions they were due to use during a practice round today.
The players are then staying in a hotel in the Keighley area overnight prior to the event itself.
Halifax-Huddersfield have finished fifth of the seven teams in the league, with five points from six matches, and Ward is hoping they can improve on that.
“Last season we finished half-way in the six-man and I’m hoping we can get into the top three this time,” he said.
“It will be tough, though, because we are up against some strong sides.”
The distance to the municipal Oak Leaf course in Bishop Auckland made it impossible for Halifax-Huddersfield to get in a practice round before Friday’s match.
However, the visitors made a good start following a long coach journey starting at 6.30am.
The sides were level at 6-6 after the morning foursomes but Halifax-Huddersfield were unable to maintain their effort in the singles against a team containing seven players with handicaps of less than two. Halifax’s Jamie Smith was the lowest handicap visitor off 2.4.
Their only winners in the afternoon were Huddersfield’s Tom Williams and West End’s Joe Stott, who had also been successful on his debut against Bradford.
The 16-year-old Stott plays off 6.8 but is improving fast and Ward said: “He is going to be one I am hoping will do well next year.”
There were also halves for Brad Hardcastle, Danny Lyness, Cory Avison and little Josh Morton, who has a great singles record this season.
West End’s Hardcastle and Huddersfield’s Williams have finished joint top in the order of merit and it has been decided that whoever fares best at Keighley tomorrow will take the title.
SCORES v TEESSIDE (Halifax-Huddersfield Union names first) - foursomes: J.Smith and T.Williams bt M.Hayes and J.Cowper 1 up, B.Hardcastle and J.Stott bt S.Burn and C.Morfoot 3 & 1, E.Shaw and D.Lyness lost to S.Millington and L.Nixon 5 & 4, C.Judson and M.Peel lost to J.Austwicke and A.Wilson 2 & 1, C.Avison and J.Fleetwood bt A.Dhillon and M.Hawes 1 up, J.Morton and J.Bailes lost to B.Dye and N.Poole 5 & 4.
Singles: J.Smith (Halifax) lost to M.Hayes 5 & 4, E.Shaw (Marsden) lost to J.Cowper 4 & 3, B.Hardcastle (West End) halved with S.Burn, T.Williams (Huddersfield) bt A.Wilson 4 & 3, D.Lyness (Saddleworth) halved with L.Nixon, C.Judson (Halifax) lost to J.Austwicke 5 & 4, M.Peel (Lightcliffe) lost to S.Millington 3-2, C.Avison (Marsden) halved with A.Dhillon, J.Bailles (Bradley Hall) lost to C.Morfoot 4 & 3, J.Fleetwood (Crosland Heath) lost to N.Poole 3 & 1, J.Stott (West End) bt M.Hawes 1 up, J.Morton (Hanging Heaton) halved with B.Dye.
Final points totals: Teesside 10, Leeds 8, Sheffield 6, Bradford 6, Halifax-Huddersfield 5, East Riding 4, Harrogate 3.
Halifax-Huddersfield order of merit (matches played in brackets): B.Hardcastle (6) 33, T.Williams (6) 33, J.Smith (6) 29, M.Major (5) 27, E.Shaw (6) 27, J.Morton (6) 26, J.Bailles (6) 20, J.Fleetwood (5) 20, C.Avison (4) 19, G.Moulman (4) 16, J.Stott (2) 14, C.Judson (5) 13, D.Lyness (4) 13, M.Peel (3) 6, L.Collier (2) 5, M.Thomas (1) 5, B.Kaye (1) 1.