The Otago men’s under-19 team lost any chance of successfully defending the junior interprovincial title after being beaten 5-3 by Bay of Plenty at Cambridge yesterday morning.
Otago went into the match after halving with North Harbour and beating Eastland, and the eight-strong team looked set to score again after a good start against the Bay team.
Early on the front nine, Otago led 6-2 but several players squandered opportunities as they turned on to the homeward nine.
The feature match between Otago No1 Inia Logan and Henry Spring drew a large gallery with both youngsters unbeaten on day one.
Logan was never in front and turned three-down before losing on the 15th green after a blitz of birdies from Spring put him on the back foot.
Spring played the back nine in 7-under and, with an eagle two on the 18th, gave Logan no chance to get back into the match.
No2 Jakob Bleach turned two ahead of Shaun Campbell and was always in control until the match finished in his favour with three holes to spare.
Connor Ross led and was two ahead at the turn but a disastrous run on the homeward nine put him on the back foot with five consecutive losses.
Ross had been the star of the past two campaigns in 2014 and 2015 and he fought back from a deficit of three to halve the match on the final green.
No4 Jack Turner remains unbeaten but had a see-saw ride yesterday, leading by three and then going back to square after Bay’s Byron Willis had a run of birdies.
Turner had a 3m putt on the final green to win but his putt horse-shoed out and he had to be content with a half.
No5 Jonny Mackay has won all three games after beating Bay’s Joshua Presley on the 16 green yesterday.
Once again the under-16 tail trio struggled against older and more experienced opposition.
Otago can now do little about the sections heavyweights North Harbour and Bay of Plenty and must now beat Auckland and Manawatu-Wanganui today to ensure a mid-field playoff on finals day.
This could give Otago a playoff for fifth and sixth. The prospect of a higher placing can only eventuate as a result of spoiling results from other matches today.