Scots have the edge on SA at Leopard Creek Test

South Africa had the early advantage but the Scots hit back to claim a two point lead on day one of the annual Test at Leopard Creek near Malelane.

The home side held a slender one point lead after the morning session, but the Scots won five of the seven afternoon singles in a thrilling battle to take 6½-4½ edge into the final day.

In the morning session, the South Africans had managed a win and a halve to offset a loss before Brandon Stone put Proteas 2½ to 1½ in the lead by whipping Conor O’Neil 5 and 4 in the only singles match played. CJ du Plessis from Limpopo and Gauteng North’s Zander Lombard combined for a solid 3 and 1 victory over James White and Brian Soutar, while JP Strydom from Western Province and Boland amateur Drikus Bruyns put up a majestic fight over the last three holes of their foursomes encounter to force a halve against Paul Shields and Daniel Kay.

But the afternoon singles went the way of the Scots, whose results illustrated that some serious consideration was given to the batting order.

While the final four singles went down the wire, the country’s top three ranked amateurs suffered the serious losses in the first three games out.

SA number one Stone went down 2 and 1 to Scott Crichton, a former Cameron Corbett Vase champion while Haydn Porteous, the recently crowned SA Stroke Play champion, lost 3 and 2 to last year’s Sanlam SA Amateur finalist Shields. Third ranked Du Plessis was defeated 3 and 2 by 2011 Scottish Fuels Sutherland Chalice winner, Fraser McKenna.

Lombard and Strydom also finished on the losing side, but both rookies managed to take their matches to the 18th hole, losing to Soutar and White respectively.

Southern Cape’s Shaun Smith and Drikus Bruyns, also wearing the green and gold for the first time, managed to bring home South Africa’s only victories for the afternoon. Smith claimed a big scalp when he beat Scottish Amateur Championship finalist Kay at the 18th, while Bruyns from Boland took care of business with a 1-up result against O’Neil.

This year marks the third successive time that South Africa’s leading amateurs take on their opposite numbers from the Scottish Elite Squad in a 36-hole Test. South Africa has claimed The Leopard Trophy for the last two years running, but they will have to come up with a rock solid strategy and line-up if they hope to make it three in a row.

For first round results and second round tee times, click here

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