Honours, and there were plenty, were even when Staffordshire and reigning champions Warwickshire fought out a 71/2-71/2 draw in their opening Midlands County Championship match at Newcastle under Lyme yesterday.
Staffordshire, considering the shaky start they made, were probably the more relieved but in no sense did Warwickshire think they were robbed.
"All our young players won points against an experienced team on a difficult course," said Warwickshire's captain, Andy Kearns. "We had five players under 20 and we can't be disappointed.
"Lots of people were under par and they had to be. We've just won a half against one of the best teams in the league."
To which Staffordshire's captain, Sean Randle responded: "Perhaps it was a better result for us. At one stage we were really struggling but we dug in and we're very pleased with the draw."
At one stage it looked like a Warwickshire romp. Staffs sent their two most experienced players, Rob Maxfield and Paul Griffiths out first in the foursomes and they were seen off 6&4 by Gareth Jenkins and Paul Randle. "We thought this was our banker," said Randle.
And in the next match, Neil Johnson and Dean Porter were soundly beaten by Warwickshire's young guns, Ben Stafford and Andy Sullivan.
It took a considerable fightback by John Kendall and Andy Guy, and by Stuart Hemmings and Jarred McKnight to keep the deficit to 3-2 in the morning.
Hemmings and McKnight were in the side to give Staffordshire something they did not have last season: stability in the lower order. And not only did they do this, young Hemmings beat Ian Stranks in the last match of the day to save the match for his county.
A key result in the afternoon came when Johnson snatched a half against Sullivan, who is undoubtedly Warwickshire's rising star. He had to hole a 20-footer at the last to fend off the youngster.
Kendall had to get up and down at the 18th for his half against Stafford and these were the sort of results that gave Staffordshire their hope of a strong season to come.
Warwickshire only drew with Staffordshire last season but still took the Midland title. This result will encourage them to think they can keep it. But there's a threat looming from Worcestershire.
They beat Warwickshire last season and they have started the current campaign with a 10-5 win over Shropshire & Herefordshire at Moseley. They started with a 4-1 win in the foursomes.
"A great team performance," was how their captaintobe Paul Scarrett described it. "You can say that we're looking forward to our season.
Scarrett was especially pleased with his own achievement in holding the 17-yearold Shropshire star, Jonathan Gidney, to a half.
"There were a lot of good wins," he said and pointed to the return to form of Matt Pates who took a point and a half from the contest.