Date: April 28, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Arch rivals can’t be split

The heavyweights traded blows – and neither would fall.

Victoria and New South Wales each took a half-point from their dramatic contest in the men’s Interstate Teams Championship at Huntingdale this morning.

After skipper Ben Eccles and the white-hot Frazer Droop enjoyed comprehensive 7&6 and 6&5 wins respectively to set the ball rolling for Victoria, the Blues hit back hard.

Brayden Petersen made his debut for the week and beat Thomas Power-Horan 1-up, then Harrison Endycott squared the ledger.

When the battle of national squad teammates Cameron Davis and Ryan Ruffels fell the visitors’ way 4&3, the Blues looked home with Brett Coletta having been behind much of the way against Travis Smyth.

Coletta pinched a half-point to leave NSW up 3.5-2.5 with only captain Dale Brandt-Richards on course against Lucas Herbert.

The No.2 pair approached the final tee all square, but when Herbert pulled his drive on to the practice fairway and his opponent  striped one up the middle needing only to halve, things looked bleak for Victoria.

Herbert went long and right on his approach, but managed to get up and down for a par.

And when Brandt-Richards couldn’t escape the front-left trap with his third, he needed to hole his second bunker shot for a half and couldn’t manage it leaving the contest knotted at 3.5 points each.

With all players and coaches surrounding the 18th green, it had the feeling of a prospective final and it would come as no surprise to see the powers lock horns again – although Queensland – which had the morning bye – and Western Australia will have a large say on that matter.

West Australian ace Jarryd Felton continued his stellar form to roll recent Masters player and fellow national squad member Antonio Murdaca 4&3 and cap another team victory over South Australia.

Earlier, Kiran Day, Ben Ferguson, the impressive Cameron Jones and Benjamin Seward put WA on the road to a 5-2 success, with William Somerfield and Jack Williams the winners for SA.

Tasmania was staring down the barrel against newcomer Northern Territory when it was up in only two matches early and Peter Hargreaves beat Josh Molendyk in the No.7 match.

But the Tassie boys, who let slip a couple of chances on Monday, weren’t about to do so again and hit back hard with skipper Greg Longmore winning an epic contest at No.1 against Will Hetherington to ensure a 5-2 win.

New cult hero Mitch Gridley continued his unbeaten run, this time a 2-up victory playing at No.5 a day after the 16-year-old won the Northern Territory’s first ever match at senior interstate level.