Wellingborough were given an almighty fright by Kettering in Group D of the Hollingsworth Trophy before eventually securing a thrilling home victory in a play-off.
Following a 4-1 success at Staverton in their opening game, Wellingborough looked on track for another good win as Sam Waite and Mick Garside (8&6) and Jamie Milligan and Duncan Cornish (6&4) found their best form.
Kettering didn’t give in however as Stuart Bell and Dave Harkess withstood a brilliant fight back from Richard Brown and Paul Saunders to win on the first extra hole, while Andy Robinson and Neil White came through for the visitors on the 18th.
With the overall result coming down to the outcome of the second game, Kettering appeared to hold the upper hand as Rob Stevenson and Dean McIntyre led by one going down the last.
However, Mike Gilbrook canned a birdie from off the 18th green to level the match, before Mark Coleman safely lagged his birdie putt on the first extra hole to snatch a dramatic victory.
Wellingborough now face a potential decider at home to Priors Hall this weekend after the Corby club also made it back-to-back wins with a 4-1 home victory over Staverton Park.
Despite a 4&3 success for Cullen MacCallum and Tommy Hamilton in the opening tie, Priors Hall were made to battle for the other points as the remaining four games all reached the 18th hole.
Alun Genner and Callum Farr were successful for the hosts in the second match, but Stuart Trigwell and Leigh Foster maintained Staverton’s hopes by clinching the next point.
Ryan Genner and John Lenaghan secured the home victory in game four, before Michael Farr and Anthony Lamond capped another fine performance by grabbing the last point.
Peterborough Milton did just enough to edge out Stoke Albany as two home pairings needed play-offs to secure a 3-2 victory.
With the visitors winning games one and four, and Neil Smith and Phil Hughes recording a 3&2 home success in the last tie, the outcome came down to the second and third ties – both of which finished all square after 18 holes.
Richard Cole and Dougie Hill were victorious for Milton on the first extra hole to level the match, before Scott O’Connor and Neil Thompson triumphed on the 20th hole to secure the home win.
In the other match, Whittlebury bounced back from their 4-1 loss at Stoke Albany in style with a 5-0 home success against Daventry.
Northampton made it back-to-back away wins in Group B with a 3-2 success at Northants County.
Brampton Heath kept alive their hopes of retaining their crown as they recorded a second consecutive victory with a 5-0 home whitewash of Overstone Park.
Mark Halliday and Ben Jones bagged the first point with holes to spare, Alec Francis and Dean Montgomery (3&1) doubled the home lead, before Steve Nixon and Andy Tebbutt confirmed the team victory with a 4&2 win.
After a loss and then a victory in their opening two games of the year, Brampton maintained the pressure on leaders Northampton by comfortably taking the final two points.
Andrew Sewell and James Wiggins triumphed 4&3, while Brendan Kelly claimed a 6&5 success in partnership with county champion Nick Herridge, who has now won his last 12 matches for the club.
Kingsthorpe proved too strong for Farthingstone as they completed a 5-0 thrashing on their home course in Group C.
In a battle between two former county champions in game one, Jack Brown comfortably got the better of Paul Hodgkiss (Farthingstone) as he combined with Guy Loveland to record a 6&5 win.
Gavin Hitchcock maintained his impressive start to the season as he joined up with Kris Spence to take game two on the 17th hole, before the hosts wrapped up the win with a 3&2 success for Steve Jackson and Lee O’Connor.
After a narrow success at Cherwell Edge in the opening contest the previous weekend, Kingsthorpe improved their points difference thanks to wins for Jason Spence and Louis Wixon (3&2) and Mark Bazeley and Jason McGuinness (2&1).
Cherwell were once again on the receiving end of another defeat in their second match as they went down 4-1 at Rushden, who lost by the same mark at Cold Ashby last weekend.
In a match a lot closer than the final scoreline suggested, Rushden’s Ian Dickerson and Callum Gant took game one on the 18th, before Sean Lapper and Luis Witherall leveled the contest on the same hole.
Although Simon Cox and Jack McGrath grabbed a 4&2 win for the hosts, the remaining two games both went the distance as Steve Alexander and Shaun Gant took game three, while Lewis Miller and Mark Brown completed the scoring for Rushden.
Handicap League – Group C
Peterborough Milton were successful in the opening fixture in this year’s Handicap League as they defeated Cold Ashby 11-5 at home in Group C.
Neil Smith and Ian Smith gave the hosts the perfect start as they took game one by seven holes, before Bob Duthie and Andrew Wilkinson increased the advantage with a narrow victory in the next tie.
In a group which includes defending champions Wellingborough, Oundle and Rushden, Richard Martin and David Durkin got Ashby on the scoreboard with a five hole success in the third match, before the next game was halved.
That was good as it got for the away side however as Milton’s Stuart MacKenzie and Roy Chowings (one hole) and Ryan Slater and Tony Vardaro (two holes) clinched the final two matches.