Stephen Mulliner won the Southwick Salver
There was a touch of deja vu at Southwick last weekend when Stephen Mulliner once again defeated Rutger Beijderwellen 2-0 in the Southwick Salver final in bright sunshine. However, there were a few differences. First, the weather was typical April rather than an early taste of June. A brisk breeze, regular showers of rain with the odd hailstorm and much lower temperatures meant that only the hardiest of the 35-strong entry played without a sweater or windcheater. Second, the finalists had dumped boring old 5th turn triples in favour of sextuples pursued with almost fanatic determination, assisted by lawns which, given the recent rain, were inevitably rather slow and easy.
The semi-final line up was Rutger vs Jeff Dawson and Stephen vs Paul Castell, immortalized as the first 70-year old to do a sextuple for the first time, Stephen and Paul did not take too long. Stephen had completed two sxps on Saturday and was keen to add to his tally. However, his hoop 1 cross-wire in game 1 was imperfect and he went to 4-back with a NSL. Paul responded by lifting the hoop 2 ball to corner 3 and leaving it there! Despite this, a standard triple was extracted with the variation that the hoop3 escape ball was sent near hoop 2 in case the stop approach from corner 3 went awry. However, the 4-b peel went off the north boundary. Paul was defeated by a random slope and Stephen went to peg with the penult ball and cross-wired Paul at 4 and finished. Game 2 saw a more successful sextuple attempt but the rush into Irish peeling position at penult was poor and, despite a good half jump, the rover peel had to be attempted from 4 yards and missed. Paul laid up off the contact and was progressing well until another unkind hill near 3-back let Stephen in to finish +26, +18.
Rutger and Jeff had a longer duel. Rutger hit first and had a 1-back leave which Jeff missed. The sextuple started but came to grief with the clips on 1-b and 3-b. Jeff hit, took a ball to 4-b but failed 2 off Rutger's 1-b ball after the lift was missed. Rutger went for the straight quad but a longish angled Irish peel at penult saw the peelee bounce clear and the striker's ball sail through! Nothing daunted, he used the enemy balls to give him a chance to try a controlled rush peel on partner through penult with a view to having a go at the rover peel if it (a) got through and (b) stayed north of rover. However, the peelee again bounced off penult and a long roll to rover was followed by a long hoop to the boundary, a long return roquet and a tidy lift leave. Jeff missed and Rutger duly finished. Jeff went to 4-b on the 4th turn of game 2. Rutger hit the lift but made no progress so Jeff hit back with his backward ball, made hoop 1 but failed to approach hoop 2 and laid. Rutger hit from near hoop 3 and had another 1-b leave which was again missed. This time the sextuple reached peg and penult, again involving a straight quad attempt with an ambitious Irish peel at penult which failed although the striker's ball once more ran the hoop! Jeff understandably felt a little hard done by. The contact leave was good and Jeff could only lay up. Rutger missed and Jeff took the hoop 2 ball to the peg with an attempt at a straight triple. One peel was achieved but the rush to penult fell short so Jeff contented himself with pegging out Rutger's peg ball and leaving his balls almost in C2 and 10 yards south of C2. No luck - Rutger hit and finished to win +16, +4.
The final was played on Lawn 1 which was distinctly slow. Rutger laid a supershot and Stephen replied to the mid-East boundary. Rutger missed from C3 and Stephen hit but lost the innings by failing to approach 1 at which point Rutger hit a 20 yarder at partner and had another 1-b leave. This left Stephen's R with a less than 45 degree hoop from 5 yards and he ran it, just, but failed the hampered roquet. Rutger's sextuple started well but 3-b proved a problem and he ended up taking off to 1-b from the peelee in the jaws of 3-b. The SB hit the peg and he missed the 13 yarder at the 1-b pioneer. Stephen now had a choice of a 9 yarder with his hoop 1 ball at Rutger's 1-b ball or a 7 yard angled shot with his hoop 2 ball at the peelee in 3-b. He chose the latter, hit and had a 1-b leave and, following the miss, completed the sextuple without much incident, his third of the weekend.
Rutger hit on turn 4 of game 2 and had a 1-b leave, being nothing if not determined. Stephen missed by the proverbial coat of paint and Rutger soon encountered problems which culminated in him attempting to approach 5 from 3 yards north when sending partner back to 2-b. The SB didn't quite make it and 5 was failed. Stephen had a 1-b leave having peeled the 5 ball and Rutger missed (interesting datum, of 10 1-b leaves shot at over the weekend, none were hit). Stephen then played a poor thick take-off when approaching the hoop 1 pioneer and missed it. Rutger now played a wonderfully adventurous break in an attempt to bring off a straight quin! He got as far as peg and penult and laid up with a flat diagonal spread. Stephen lifted his hoop 1 ball and hit and started his own sextuple attempt. Things looked a little bleak when the peelee glued itself to the eastern upright of 2-b instead of going through. However, a succession of ambitious and fortunate strokes meant that he had a straight quad for victory and the first three peels all succeeded nicely. The peelee was rushed to 4 feet north of rover and, instead of trusting all to a firm Irish peel, Stephen played a controlled peel which took lawn or wire or both and only staggered through by a foot. There was no deep ball but the attempt to jump was made anyway. However, K clipped B. The peg-out via 5 missed but left B very close to R, about 4 yards NE of the peg. Y was hit and pegged-out from 7 yards while K went up to R and rushed it behind B. This left a 45 degree cut bombard to the peg. However, B miss on the inside and K pegged out to leave B for peg and Rutger's R for penult with contact. Rutger took off from B, leaving it 2 feet S of the peg and obtained 4 foot position. Possibly affected by the need to run with control rather than to the S boundary, he uncharacteristically bounced off and Stephen had a "tap-in" for victory.
The crowd warmly expressed their appreciation for the entertainment and Jonathan Isaacs, chairman of both Southwick and the CA Council, presented the prizes. Thanks were expressed to Chris for managing efficiently and to the lawn and catering staff. The quality of the beer chosen by David Gaitley was especially applauded.