The biggest day of the Men’s Interclub season lies ahead on Sunday 12 November as the top teams from the Woodward Cup, Blank Cup, and Simon Cup competitions meet on a busier than ever Finals Day at Pegasus Golf Club.
With the inclusion of the new Simon Division 2 competition, which is to be formally named the Thompson/MacDonald Trophy moving forward, there will be a total of 120 players across 16 teams on course to contest the morning semi-finals with 60 players and 8 teams to progress to the afternoon finals.
After a very competitive 9 rounds of play it was Christchurch Golf Club who claimed the top table position having sat previously in second spot since round 5. Christchurch who in the off-season added some new strength in Reid Hilton, Tom Lee, and Tim Leonard have lived up to the billing and will be looking to get over the line on finals day in the year in which the club has celebrated its 150th anniversary. Tim Leonard has been the team’s best performer this season with 8 wins from 8 followed by the Lee brothers Tom and Peter with 7 wins each. They will take on perhaps the surprise package this season in Harewood Golf Club, who secured the 4th spot and semi-final action during the final round-robin match overtaking Russley. Off the back of an 8th place finish last year this is quite the turnaround for Harewood who just last month celebrated their centenary year. This season they have been led by Kerry Branson with 6.5 wins and James Howard with 6 wins alongside the experienced pairing of Josh Smith and Scott Manyweathers with 5 wins each.
In the other semi-final the defending champions Templeton will take on Clearwater in a repeat of the 2022 final. Templeton held the top spot on the table for practically the entire season before dropping to third place after the final round. Full of Rep and interclub match play experienced players, they will be a tough opponent. They have been led by Stan Rich Salver winner Ryan Bellamy who recorded 8 wins and a half to claim the salver as the top individual player this season. He will be supported by former salver-winning and Canterbury Rep David Zohrab who won 7.5 matches this year alongside the experienced pairing of Tom Wilson and Mike Toeke who also won 7 matches this season. They will take on a strong Clearwater team who themselves boast a lot of representative talent which led them to a second-place finish in the round-robin action. Notable players in their lineup include Sam McGill who recorded a team-high 7 wins, Archie Gothard (6.5 wins), and Dominic Brettkelly and Cooper Moore who have an undoubted pedigree.
The first Blank Cup semi-final will see Rusley take on Harewood with Russley taking the top spot on the table by 3 clear points. Russley have used a total of 20 players throughout round-robin play with their best performers being Henry Bryden and Takuma Kikukawa who both recorded 6 wins from 7 matches. Their Harewood opponents also utilized a wide squad this season with 15 different players in their various lineups throughout the season. Their highest achievers included Sam McCarroll with 7 wins and Brad Edmonston and Liam Keegan who both recorded a respectful 6.5 wins.
The other semi-finals see Christchurch taking on Clearwater. Christchurch who finished second on the table used 18 different players throughout the campaign with their best performing being Ashley Wilson with 5.5 wins. He was closely followed by Alisdair Reid and Cosmo Graham with 5 wins a piece. Their opponents Clearwater who just managed to pip Harewood for the third table position, will be looking to match their round-robin result against Christchurch back in round 7 where they narrowly won 4.5-3.5. They will be hoping their leading player Harris Kim (6.5 wins this season) will be able to fire alongside the likes of Nathan Kendall (4 wins) and Craig McMillan (3.5 wins.)
In Simon Cup action semi-final 1 will see a strong Templeton side take on a resilient Bottle Lake outfit. Templeton was able to get the job done 6-2 back in round 6 in extremely windy conditions that day at Russley so will be looking to make it a repeat. Templeton’s top performers were Terry Dempsey and Paul Bailey who both managed 6.5 wins. Keith Shipston will also be looking to lend some support having recorded 5 wins himself and just one defeat. Bottle Lake meanwhile, who secured their semi-final spot last week in rainy conditions at Waitikiri, have a young Mitchell Redmayne in their squad who won the Roy Mitchell salver following an unbeaten season that included 7 wins and 2 halves. He will be supported by Jonathan Drury who recorded an impressive 7 wins and Kieran Sharvin who himself achieved 6 wins from his 6 matches.
In the other semi, Russley will take on Christchurch. It was 2nd place Christchurch who got the comfortable 6-2 victory over Russley back in round 6 with just one competition point separating the two teams at the end of round-robin play. Christchurch squad includes the likes of James Simpson who has 6 wins this year and Brad Clark who won all of the 5 matches he has played. For Russley, youngster Alfie Bell has been their most consistent performer with 6 wins this year. They also have Phillip Walker (5.5 wins) and his son James Walker who made his Canterbury Boys debut this season alongside another teammate Jono Fry.
Finally, for the first time on finals day players from the new Division 2 competition, which will now be referred to as the Thompson/MacDonald Trophy, will feature. The first semi-final will see Weedons taking on Templeton, with Weedons having secured a first-place finish via a coin toss after having an identical record as Avondale and the result of their match also being a tie. Weedon's top prospects include Reg Wentworth who managed 4.5 wins throughout the season alongside Cameron Coombes who recorded 4 wins from his 4 games at that level. Templeton’s leading performer this year was Cole Anderson with 5 wins followed by Colin Berkett with 4.5. The earlier meeting between these two teams ended in a 3-3 draw back in round 2.
In the other semi, Avondale will take on Rawhiti. Avondale’s most impressive performer this season was Maadi Kiri-Kiri who after an opening-round defeat went on to win his next 7 matches to win the competition's individual salver prize. His next best-performing teammate was Danny Toomalatai with 4 wins. For Rawhiti Nathan Andrews is the pick of the bunch with 6 victories this season, Dan Matthews and Mike Robinson will be looking to perform also after their 4 wins each. The round-robin result between the two teams back in round 2 ended 4-2 in Rawhiti’s favour.