CA of Ireland v SCA 2007

The Croquet Association of Ireland retained the Appleton Trophy after the 2007 match was held at Carrickmines on 19 and 20 May.

Players in team sequence:
CAI – Simon Williams (-2), Robert Barklie (0), Evan Newell (0), Jane Shorten (1.5, capt.), Nathaniel Healy (1.5), Benjamin Reeves-Smyth (3)
SCA – Bruce Rannie (-0.5, capt.), Strat Liddiard (-0.5), Martin Stephenson (4), Campbell Morrison (6, 5 in Ireland), Jamieson Walker (6), Bill Spalding (6)
Doubles pairings in team sequence:
CAI – Williams / Healy, Barklie / Newell, Shorten / Reeves-Smyth
SCA – Rannie / Walker, Liddiard / Spalding, Stephenson / Morrison
Format (as in 2006):
Saturday, one round of doubles, two rounds of singles
Sunday, one round of doubles, two rounds of singles
16 points to win the match, 15-all draw means CAI retain the trophy but both names are engraved on it for this year.

The relative handicaps predicated an easy victory for the Irish, but five of the Scottish team have had Squad Coaching from Keith Aiton, so better things were expected.  The story round by round unfolded as follows:

Round 1, Saturday, Doubles, pairs 1 played pairs 2, pair 3 played pair 3.  Top Irish pair of Healy and Williams saw off second Scottish pair Liddiard and Spalding with a clinical Williams +22TP.  Top Scottish pair of Rannie and Walker succumbed to steady second Irish pair Barklie and Newell, despite Rannie reaching peg, but the match did go to its 2.75hr time limit, +7T.  Stephenson and Morrison were always ahead of Shorten and Reeves-Smyth, but despite being at peg-4B with an hour to go, Stephenson could not close it out, final score +14T.  CAI 2, SCA 1.

Round 2, Saturday, Singles, 2.5hr time limit (as for all subsequent rounds).  Williams beat Stephenson +14, with Simon’s TP being interrupted by sending the peelee off the lawn when he played the 4B peel as a split roll going to 1B, having failed to get the angle to play it as a take-off.  Barklie beat Walker +16 clinically, Jamieson not getting much of a start despite his ten points.  Rannie beat Newell (again!), this time +17 after Evan was round first, and also hit the lift to start the second ball.  Bruce got his second break started with a 14-yd sideways hoop approach to 2 from 3, having previously put an exit ball at 2, and rushing the potential peelee to 3, not getting a rush to 2, but the peels never came together.  Spalding beat Shorten +6T in the first of four wins by Bill, all going to time.  Healy beat Liddiard +22 with three solid turns, Strat never getting started.  Morrison beat Reeves-Smyth +6T, Ben not having played since last August, but managing to keep Campbell short of the finishing line.  CAI 5, SCA 4.

Round 3, Saturday, Singles.  Williams beat Liddiard +11OTP, after Simon went round in Turn 3, Strat completed the TPO in Turn 4, Simon failed from the contact, Strat crashed into Hoop 4 the first time a three-ball break had been established, and Simon accepted the gift to finish.  Barklie beat Rannie +4, after Robert had reached peg-rover with time getting short and Bruce on 5-5.  However, Bruce got to 4B, Robert missed, and in the turn where time would be called, Bruce set off after the straight triple to win.  The 4B peel had to be played from distance, and jammed, not half-jumpable.  The full jump went OK, the rush peel achieved, and now it needed the posthumous penult peel, and striker’s ball in the box to be 1 up giving away a lift.  Too strong a tiddly rush meant the peel had to be after rover, with the opponent’s rover ball on B-baulk, and getting to the peg would be difficult – only a death-roll-style peel would suffice.  Even that was not on, and the attempt to peg out through penult (for the tie) merely put a second ball by rover, for Robert to hit from A-baulk and finish.  Shorten beat Walker +20 comfortably, Healy beat Morrison +17 with three good turns after Campbell had been in charge for the first half.  Stephenson beat Reeves-Smyth +22, also comfortably.  This left the other match going to time, Spalding and Newell, where Bill was well ahead with time running out, one ball off, the other on rover, but Evan had chances to get the penult pink advanced (after 1 peel), turned down in favour of playing white.  A long turn with some big shots kept the crowd in the clubhouse (behind double-glazing) shouting at the window (just like shouting at the TV), and those of us having been involved in timed games whispering behind our hands beside the court.  Because Evan turned down at least two chances of the penult peel, put Bill’s ball on A-baulk, the pink up by 4B, and pegged himself out.  When Bill took the last shot and missed, they shook hands, and Evan said “another game of mine going to +1”, and only then did he realise that he was one behind, not one in front!  CAI 9, SCA 6, and so to dinner.

Round 4, Sunday, Doubles.  Healy and Williams beat Rannie and Walker +22, with Simon round first this time, so no TP.  Barklie and Newell beat Stephenson and Morrison +14 easily despite Martin having a ball round.  Liddiard and Spalding beat Shorten and Reeves-Smyth +10T, with Strat getting all the way to box, Bill reaching 3-back, and the Irish pair being ground into the depths of despair.  CAI 11, SCA 7.

Round 6 was mainly played before Round 5, to get the schedule ahead with planes to catch, and because four players were available to play two matches.  Williams beat Rannie +22TP, with Simon round on Turn 5 (SW supershot, BR just out of Corner II, SW miss into the Corner leaving a double, BR missing the double on the wide side (!)), Bruce hitting the lift (never say when you aim down the line and hit the inside ball …) but clanging hoop 5, and Simon taking advantage for a seventh-turn TP, all peels done before 3B.  Healy beat Walker +13, with Jamieson putting a break together, and Nathaniel taking over in the second half with three solid turns.  Liddiard beat Barklie +3, in a high-standard game that turned towards farce near the end.  Strat completed the three peels but ran into the peelee and missed the peg-out from south of rover, and chose to peg Robert and himself off, leaving peg v 4B – Robert had had two solid turns himself.  Robert hit, ran 4B, approached penult from distance, looking for the finish, and bounced off, leaving his exit ball, Strat’s peg ball, five yards away from its target, so Strat hit the peg this time.  Spalding beat Reeves-Smyth +17T.  Newell beat Stephenson +16, despite Martin having some chances.  CAI 14, SCA 9, so SCA need the lot.

Then it was decided to play the Round 5 games Williams / Morrison and Rannie / Shorten before the Morrison / Shorten Round 6 game, these went to form, with Simon being prevented from another TP by Campbell’s accidental peel of Simon’s 4B ball when trying to place a pioneer – Williams +17.  Rannie beat Shorten +9, after Bruce had been on 1-1 for some time (he had run a hoop but only after playing a complete break with Jane’s white ball, right from the first 2-inch rush).  Once Bruce did get started, he managed to keep Jane out.  So, with 5 to play, CAI 15, SCA 10.

Round 5 (played as Round 6), Sunday, singles.  Barklie beat Stephenson +16, to gain the winning point for CAI.  Robert had had the chance of this against Strat, because Simon’s win over Campbell had actually finished before the Barklie / Liddiard game, so he took the second chance of glory.  Martin was round to 3B in turn 3, but had few chances after that.  Liddiard beat Newell +7, with Strat completing an interrupted TP, and Evan failing in his own TP attempt.  Spalding beat Healy +1T in yet another dour encounter.  Shorten beat Morrison +26, despite Campbell appearing to have many turns.  The final match was the game between Walker and Reeves-Smyth, with both being pointless throughout the weekend.  Jamieson was in at the beginning, with Ben missing long shots and short shots, but eventually Ben hit a long rush full in the face, and from there his game clicked much more into place, and he finally got ahead despite a failed straight rover peel giving Jamieson a way back into the match to level things when time ran out.  However Ben had the initiative in the after-time turns, and took the golden point to finish the game +1T, and to give the final match score CAI 18, SCA 12.

After appropriate speeches (interrupted throughout) and the presentation of the trophy back to Jane, the two parties went their several ways, looking forward to Meadows 2008.

Bruce Rannie

Results
(CAI names first)

Doubles:
Williams & Healy bt Liddiard & Spalding +22TP
Barklie & Newell bt Rannie & Walker +7T
Shorten & Reeves-Smyth lost to Stephenson & Morrison –14T
Williams & Healy bt Rannie & Walker +22
Barklie & Newell bt Stephenson & Morrison +14
Shorten & Reeves-Smyth lost to Liddiard & Spalding –10T

Singles:
Williams bt Stephenson +14
Barklie bt Walker +16
Newell lost to Rannie –17
Shorten lost to Spalding –6T
Healy bt Liddiard +22
Reeves-Smyth lost to Morrison –6T
Williams bt Liddiard +11OTP
Barklie bt Rannie +4
Newell lost to Spalding –1T
Shorten bt Walker +20
Healy bt Morrison +17
Reeves-Smyth lost to Stephenson -22
Williams bt Rannie +22TP
Shorten lost to Rannie –9
Williams bt Morrison +17
Barklie lost to Liddiard –3
Newell bt Stephenson +16
Healy bt Walker +13
Reeves-Smyth lost to Spalding –17T
Barklie bt Stephenson +16
Newell lost to Liddiard –7
Shorten bt Morrison +26
Healy lost to Spalding –1T
Reeves-Smyth bt Walker +1T

The teams.  From left to right: Robert Barklie, [space for Ben Reeves-Smyth,] Simon Williams, Nathaniel Healy, Evan Newell, Jane Shorten; Martin Stephenson, Campbell Morrison, Bruce Rannie, Strat Liddiard, Jamieson Walker, Bill Spalding.