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INTERLEAGUE KNOCKOUT CUP 2004
Event Report

Table One
Imperial I's, defence of their title started against Worcester Dream team and was just about as tough as it could be with Worcester Dream Team keeping pace with London's Imperial. Skipper Dean Wisher got Imperial of to a good start when he won the first frame. Worcester Dream Team came back with the next two to show they were not going to give in to Imperial and that they could give as good as they got. Worcester Dream Team attacked Imperial so hard that at one point they led 8-6.

Seeing Worcester Dream Team so close to the winning line galvanised Imperial in to action and they won the final four frames of the match to win 10-8 through Ben Clements, John Wylie, Darren Suchley & Brian Evans to pull off an escape act that even Houdini would have hard pushed to match.

Of the three teams in this group Leicester Lions (Leicestershire) were on paper the weakest of the three teams so it was no surprise when Worcester Dream Team took the first three frames. Leicester Lions Charlene Gibson stopped the rot when she won her frame. Worcester Dream Team continued to clock up the frames on a more or less 2 for 1 basis until Worcester Dream Team won the match 12-6.

Imperial I were always going to be too strong for Leicester Lions and their progression to the knock out stage was swift.

Table Two
The All'oas was another team who received a very real scare as Nottinghamshire's Gainsborough shot of to a 3-0 lead. It took Karl Boyes and Matt Morris to steer the All'oas juggernaut back on course. This left Del Redman, Nathan Bridges, and Lee Clough to put the Lancashire boys in to their more familiar role as leaders.

Gainsborough did try to fight back but every time the got a frame back the All'oas added more to their total until they ran out 12-6 winners and restore the All'oas to "normal" mode.

In their second match Gainsborough started by giving as good as they got but with the score at 2-2 their opponents Beverley A (East Yorkshire) hit them for four of the next five frames to end the first half 6-3 up. Gainsborough tried to fight back after the re-start and took the opening two frames. The match was killed off when Beverley A went of a five frame blitz to put the match beyond any reasonable doubt. The match finally ended up with Beverley A winning 12-6.

Table Three
Triangle (west Yorkshire) had none of the worries of the previous two groups as they blitzed Derbyshire's Long Eaton 14-4 to show the "new boys" how tough this event can be when you come up against a quality team.

Long Eaton recovered enough from their mauling from Triangle to hand one of their own out to North Wolds (East Yorkshire) by the end of the first half they were leading 7-2. Not a bad start for a first time team at Great Yarmouth. Especially as North Wolds are a good team. Things didn't get any better in the second half either for North Wolds as Long Eaton piled up the frames, and eventually beat North Wolds 13-5 leaving North Wolds to ponder about how they were going to fare against Triangle.

The result in this group was never really in doubt as Triangle wrapped up the win dropping only two frames en-route

Table Four
As a graphic illustration of the point made above about how tough this event can be Leicester, previous finalists, and a team that just about always makes it to the business end of any tournament they enter was beaten up badly by their first opponents Brierly Hill from the West Midlands. So brutal was the beating that by the time the match finished Leicester were looking at their worst ever performance in the event as they crashed out 15-3.

When Leicester took on Preston (Lancashire) and Preston took the first two frames Leicester must have been thinking what the hell is going wrong here. Thankfully, for Leicester Scott Taylor and Tom Ford both won to level the match and steady Leicester. Leicester then started to play like we all know they can and by the turn around had a lead of 6-3. however, Preston know how to use their cues as well and started chipping away at the Leicester lead and by the time all 18 frames were played it was 9-9. The stars of the match were Gareth Hibbott, Dave Jackson & Nick Davey for Preston and Steve Robertshaw and Scott Taylor for Leicester.

The tussle to win the group between Brierly Hill and Preston must have been a real cracker. Brierley Hill only needed the draw to clinch the group. Preston on the other hand had to win to go through. They set about their task with relish and got themselves in to a position where they were 9-4 up. Needing only one frame to clinch the match had to watch in horror as Brierly Hill started to come back at Preston initiated by Kev Johnson, continued by Rod Banister, Andy Watts, Ian Priest then finished by Dave Bridgwater. Brierly Hill forced a draw and qualification from the brink of being knocked out of the event. To leave Preston totally bewildered at how they managed to let Brierley Hill off the hook.

Table five
Sun Valley (Nottinghamshire) had no such problems in their opening match against Netherthorpe (East Yorkshire) as Lee Howitt, Steve Hotckiss, England International, Bayden Jackson and Dave Atherley put Sun Valley 4-0 up. When you give a team like Sun Valley the edge they are very unlikely to let you get anywhere near them and that's what happened as Netherthorpe tried to get themselves back in to it Sun Valley counter attacked and kept Netherthorpe at arms length and won the match 12-6.

Chalk Farm set about Netherthorpe right from the start through Michael Brown, Matt Francois and Roger Crossley who all won their frames for the London outfit. And although Netherthorpe won the next it was back to winning ways and had got to 10-3 up when Netherthorpe found some form and took the next four frames but Chalk Farm took the final frame of the match to win 11-7.

The group decider between Sun Valley and Chalk farm was a bit of as non starter as Sun Valley after the first few frames took control of the match. But when the match began things were very different as Chalk Farm kept pace with their illustrious opponents. However once the Sun Valley steam roller engine got up to speed Chalk Farm were flattened in frame after frame until Sun Valley reached their point of qualification. The score at the point where Sun Valley could no longer be caught was 9-2.

Table Six
Dawley A (Shropshire) made short work of their opponents Holderness (East Yorkshire). Holderness were 6-3 down by the half way point in the match and things got no better in the second half either as they lost that 6-3 as well. Paul Cartledge, Craig Reynolds, Ian Duffy & Lee Steadman were the stars for Dawley A.

Weir Inns debut in the Interleague was one of reality versus expectation as Holderness taught Weir Inns that expectation is ok but without something to back it up you won't get far. Weir Inns would have thought they could have given a good account of themselves but when you come up against some of the teams in the event you quickly learn that there is such a wealth of quality here that there are no short cuts, you have to learn to compete.

You have to graduate from the school of hard knocks, there are no easy diplomas here. One of those knocks came in the shape of Holderness who restricted Weir Inns to just one frame in the first half. Although Weir Inns got four frames in the second half by time they won them the match as a contest was over. Holderness eventually won the match 13-5 leaving Weir Inns to ponder what would become of them when they had to face Dawley A in their next match.

Dawley A made it through to the knock out stage with relative ease as they crushed Interleague first timers Weir Inns in the group decider. By the end of the first half Dawley was 6-3 to the good. Weir Inns only won two more frames before Dawley A qualified but Weir Inns can think of their first time here as a real success not many first timers get to play in a group decider. Had the opposition not been Dawley A, one of the top ten teams in the country, then maybe Weir Inns would have made it to the knock out section.

Table Seven
Maidstone A (Kent) were another of the teams shown that life is not always a bed of roses at this level as Essex's Clacton gave them a lesson in making the most of the chances they got and won 12-6. Adam and Alex Davis were the architects of the win with two wins apiece at crucial points in the match.

Ollerton came out in their first match of their Interleague like a bull in a china shop knocking every one in their path out of their way as Andy Wilson, Kev Seaman, Gary McLeod, Scott Higgins and Chris Rigby all combined to give Ollerton a 5-0 lead. Maidstone then took three frames back through Graham Lamb, Wayne Miles & Dave Coackley. Straight after the re-start Ollerton did the same as they did in the first half and took the first five frames to kill the match and win 13-5 to play Clacton in the decider.

In the group decider Clacton must be ruing the start they had as they lost the first six frames to Ollerton. Not a recommended policy against a team with this much quality in it but it has to said that Clacton did themselves proud as they clawed their way back in to the match. So impressive was the come back that Clacton got back to the point where they only trailed by the odd frame at 8-9. Sadly for Clacton their comeback ended there as Ollerton through John McMahon got the frame they needed

Table Eight
Essex's Colchester went one better as they took out Kent's Folkestone 13-5 amazing as it may sound the match was quite close at one stage as Colchester were leading by the odd frame at 3-2. That was as close as Folkestone were ever to be to them as Colchester piled on the frames.

Trent Trophies A took on Folkestone in the second match of this group and I doubt that Folkestone were too enthused about it. After all Trent Trophies A's team sheet read like IPA tour quarter final draw. Trent Trophies A won this match 17-1 and that's about all you can say about this match. The only Trent Trophies A player to lose was Carl Morris.

Trent Trophies A followed their battering of Folkestone with an equally comprehensive 9-2 win over Clacton to win the group. You can't help but feel sorry for both Clacton and Folkestone drawing Trent Trophies A in their group but the nature of the event is that someone has to. Trent Trophies A are without doubt the heavyweights of the Interleague with their squad you would never expect to lose any match.

Table Nine
Peterborough (Cambridgeshire) came back from a 3-1 deficit to win 10-8 against Cumbria's Penrith thanks mainly to Martyn Allen and Gareth Mears wining both their frames to draw first blood in the group.

P.J.'s Stourbridge (West Midlands) took a while to get going but once they were warmed up they showed Penrith just how they got to the final last year as they took frames at crucial times to make sure that any ideas that Penrith had of launching a come back were always kept on the back burner. P.J.'s Stourbridge won the match 12-6.

Although it seemed like Peterborough would give P.J.'s Stourbridge a real match it never materialised Peterborough took a 2-0 lead but that was it for Peterborough as P.J.'s Stourbridge piled on the pressure as they took complete control of the tie and eventually won 10-2 to send Peterborough back to the fens with their tails between their legs.

Table Ten
The Interleague said hello to an old friend in this group as Essex's Barking Elite returned to the action after a lay off. It looked like Barking Elite were a little ring rusty as Barnsley (South Yorkshire) took the first three frames in the opening match of this group. Barking Elite turned the clock back to the glory days as they took five of the next six frames to lead 5-4 at the half way point. Barnsley then hit Barking for a four frame unanswered run. Just at the point when it looked liked it was the end of Barking. Back they came with a three frame run to secure a 9-9 draw. When you consider that Barnsley had Nick Woolerton and Karl Milner in their line up. It would seem that Barking are not too far off their fighting weight.

Mosconi Leisure (East Yorkshire) was another of the first timers experiencing the Interleague and everything that goes with it. This was another of what looked a little one sided and so it proved as Mosconi Leisure had no answer to the fire power of Barnsley. As the match progressed Mosconi Leisure frames came at times where they were never likely to spark anything that might resemble recovery and in the end Barnsley won comfortably 15-3.

This group ended up being the tightest of the groups of the event as Barking Elite had to beat Mosconi Leisure by winning a minimum of 15 frames or it would be a play off against Barnsley and although Mosconi Leisure won two frames in the first half Barking Elite took all the rest to beat Mosconi Leisure 16-2 to take the group by a single frame. I can't begin to think what Barnsley must be thinking right now. Just try to imagine your team had just won a match 15-3 only to see another team get one frame more than you and knock you out of the event as a result.

Table Eleven
Friar Tuck (Nottinghamshire) had a bit of a fright when Wigan (Lancashire) hit them for three frames Thanks to Ian Davenport, Shawn Dawber and John Cross. Friar Tuck then hit back winning five of the next six frames to lead 5-4 at the half way mark. Back came Wigan again through Ian Davenport and Shawn Dawber with help from Glen Cahir. Unfortunately there was come back this time as Wigan won four of the next six to run out comfortable 11-7 winners.

When the second match between St Neots (Cambridgeshire) and Friar Tuck ended up all square it left the door open for Wigan to claim the group.

Wigan was acutely aware that all they had to do was avoid defeat and the group was theirs. They set about reaching their goal of nine frames as quickly as possible dropping only two of the first nine frames. St Neots then started to fight back a little and matched Wigan frame for frame until the frames ran out, they ran out when Wigan reached the required nine frames.

Table Twelve
Gravesham (Kent) got a bit of a battering from Hyndburn (Lancashire) as John Chapman took the opening frame for Hyndburn only to see it wiped out by Mannerings of Gravesham, Hyndburn then took the next four to effectively kill the match off as a competition. Springhall added another frame for Gravesham. When Hyndburn did another four frame run the fat lady was singing for the Kent outfit and Hyndburn went on to win 13-5.

Harlow (Essex) was out of the event before they had a chance to make any kind impact on the championship Losing 8 of the opening nine frames to Gravesham. They rallied a bit in the second half and ended up losing 7-11.

With the group all but over the only thing Harlow had to do was bow out of the event salvaging as much pride as they could. Hyndburn on the other hand already knew they were through. The combination was such that Hyndburn could not get away from Harlow as the teams traded frames until Hyndburn reached their target of seven to win the group

Table Thirteen
Ely (Cambridgeshire) had their backs against the wall right from the start of this match as Leeds (West Yorkshire) took five of the opening seven frames. Ely's two Tour players Iain Aldous and Dale Parson failed to make an impact and that was where the difference between the two teams was. Ely rallied to trail 4-5 at the half way point. Leeds added two more frames to their side of the score sheet after the re-start to leave Ely a mountain to climb. A mountain that proved too tall for Ely. As hard as they tried Ely just could not overhaul Leeds and lost 8-10.

Sheppey (Kent) had hoped that having lost to Leeds, Ely would not have the heart for another battle but Ely still had hopes of qualifying for the knock out stage. This meant that Sheppey were not going to have an easy ride. As with the previous group the match ended 9-9.

Leeds had to make sure they won their match against Sheppey to go through with two straight wins anything else would involve mathematics, not most pool players strongest subject Leeds set about making sure mathematics would not be required for this group as they clocked up the frames need to secure the win. Not even Tour player old white sox, Dave Norris could help Sheppey out on this one and they lost 9-4.

Table Fourteen
Saw St Albans Saints (Hertfordshire) get off to a flyer as they raced to a 5-1 lead before Dawley B (Shropshire) realised they were in a match. Shawn Worrall, James Heyward & Paul Brazenell pulled Dawley back into it by the half way point to trail by a single frame.

Just when Dawley B thought they were getting the better of St Albans Saints they found themselves four frames down again. This time there was no time to mount a comeback and for a second time the Saints went marching in at 11-7.

Elland (West Yorkshire) are a team more noted for their dressing habits at the Interleague rather than their ability to win matches. By the end of the first half Dawley had a 5-4 lead. Coming back after losing the first three frames. In the end it was yet another 9-9 draw.

Considering Elland held Dawley to a 9-9 draw things could easily gone wrong for St Albans saints. As it turned out they need not have worried as Elland offered very little resistance an the Saints won the match 10-3 and with it the group

Table Fifteen
Wolverhampton Wednesday (West Midlands) showed Lowestoft (Suffolk) a clean pair of heels dropping only three frames in the first nine. To make matters worse for Lowestoft. Wolverhampton Wednesday did exactly the same thing in the second half and won at a canter 12-6.

Renegade (Berkshire) made history being the first team from that county to appear in the Interleague finals. Things were looking good when they took the first two frames against Lowestoft but then Lowestoft started to turn the screw and eventually killed of Renegade 11-7 leaving Renegade a mountain to climb in their next match.

Renegade started the match with fire in their bellies as they took the first two frames but then lost their way as Wolverhampton Wednesday showed some of the form that they are so renowned for and won the next four on the spin. In doing so killed of the fight in the Renegade team. By the time the end of the match arrived renegade were just one frame adrift at 7-6 but you got the feeling that if Wolverhampton Wednesday needed to they still had a few notches they could have used if they needed to.

Table Sixteen
The match between Chesterfield (Nottinghamshire) and Ipswich (Suffolk) was always going to be tight and so it proved as the two teams traded frames more or less on a one for one basis with Chesterfield trailing by the odd frame at the half way point. The second half was a mirror of the first half with Ipswich having to win the final frame to win the match. Ipswich's Ned Acton held his nerve to beat Chesterfield captain to just nick the match 10-8.

Something went seriously awry in the Thursday Club League (Northamptonshire) game plan when they took on Chesterfield. they won the opening frame and then proceeded to lose all the others. I can't recall such a battering in the group stage before. The net result of the defeat was that Thursday Club League was out of the KO Cup before they got started and Chesterfield was right back in it. The only down side to all this was that Thursday Club League were playing Ipswich next.

Ipswich coasted their way into the last thirty two thanks to the four frames they won at the start of the match to show Thursday Club League jut who the boss was. To be fair Thursday Club League came back at them but it was always a bridge too far for Thursday Club League to cross and eventually Ipswich got the ninth frame they needed to join the Interleague elite.

Table Seventeen
The match between Andover Swallows (Hampshire) and Bicester (Oxfordshire) had all the makings of a close one and so it proved as the match swung one way then the other. At the half way point Andover Swallows were 5-4 up. After the re-start Bicester took the initiative and it took a run of five unanswered frames to clinch the match for Andover Swallows at 11-7.

Ipswich B (Suffolk) took on Bicester and honours were even after the first four frames. Bicester then hit Ipswich for five unanswered frames to lead at the turn around 6-3. Things got worse for Ipswich after the re-start as Bicester continued to clock up frames until they won the match 13-5.

With this group in the melting pot all three teams still had the chance to be the winners there was a number of permutations Andover Swallows were the favourites as all they had to do was avoid defeat. Things did not work out that way though as Ipswich B set about the Swallows taking an early three frame lead. Andover Swallows took the next two to calm their nerves but Ipswich hit them for another three frames to lead 6-3 at the turn round.

Andover was looking at a disaster full in the face as Ipswich kept the pressure up and eventually won the match 10-7 to knock Andover out and more interestingly themselves as well. Bicester took the group on count back.

Table Eighteen
Suffolk Divas were the only all female team in the event so if Alsager (Staffordshire) thought they were in for an easy ride they were very much mistaken. Suffolk Divas have won the ladies version of this event so they are no push over Alsager took an early four frame lead. Then the two teams traded frames until Alsager were 8-4 up requiring just two frames from the final six to confirm the win. Then Suffolk Divas started to get their act together as Leah Willet, Janette Skardon, Kim O'Brien, Deb Pullen, Rebecca Osborn and Fran Calvert rattled of the next six frames to pull of a great 10-8 win.

Alsager would have been keen to make amends for their performance against Suffolk Divas but unfortunately for them their opponents Milton Keynes A (Buckinghamshire) are not the sort of team you need to be facing at times like this. Alsager took the all so important first frame then let Milton Keynes ride rough shod all over them and at one point clocked up a\ seven frame winning streak. Milton Keynes won comfortably 13-5. Peter Flanagan won both his frames for Alsager but there were no other bright spots for the team from Staffordshire.

There was to be no repeat of Suffolk Divas first round win when they took on Milton Keynes A but they did put the wind up the boys from Bucks as they raced to a 3-0 lead but that was the Divas high water mark as Milton Keynes took control of the match with seven unanswered frames to give them enough frames to ensure that they could not be caught.

Table Nineteen
The opening match in this group pitted two accomplished teams against each other and one of them was going to have to go. Almost certainly the loser of this match between Weston & Lye & Stourbridge was going to be on the first bus back home. First blood went to Lye & Stourbridge (West Midlands) through Lee Whitehouse, Simon Ward & Carl Beresford. It took Weston's Russell Burgess to claim their first frame and from there Weston took three of the next four to go into their second half only one frame adrift.

Gareth Manning levelled for Weston then Lye & Stourbridge took the next five frames to claim the match with Carl Beresford & Lee Whitehouse winning both their frames.

Village Pool League (Northamptonshire) were no match even for a battle weary Weston and apart from Village Pool League winning frame one the result was never in doubt after that as Weston added the frames they needed to mathematically stay in the event. They won this match by the handsome score of 12-6 but in reality they knew it wasn't going to be good enough.

Lye & Stourbridge set about putting Weston out of their misery as soon as possible by making short work of Village Pool League. They got to the required nine frames whilst only dropping four themselves. It fair to say though that Weston knew their fate a long time before this match was over.

Table Twenty
Wolverhampton Wednesday B (West Midlands) made short work of a Gosport Team that was expected to do well. Wolverhampton Wednesday B took 6 of the first nine frames to set up a crushing victory over the Hampshire outfit. Then to add insult to injury Wolverhampton Wednesday B did the same thing in the second half with Fred Bannister, D. Brooks & L. Thacker adding to their first half wins.

Bedford A (Bedfordshire) wanted a good win to set them up for the clash with Wolverhampton Wednesday in the next match but their plans were scuppered when Gosport turned up the heat. The match remained nip & tuck all the way through with Gosport always being able to hand what Bedford was able to throw at them. Considering that Bedford had some pretty classy players in their line up this was no small achievement. Gosport hung on to win 10-8 but had to wait for the final frame before they won the match.

Wolverhampton Wednesday B reaped the rewards for beating Gosport in the opening match and although Bedford gave it a real go when the teams meet Wolverhampton Wednesday were unlikely to cede any ground. This group is a graphic illustration how much winning the opening match is worth to you.

Table Twenty One
Milton Keynes B came in to the Interleague K.O Cup full of confidence on the back of a reasonable performance in April. Shrewsbury (Shropshire) their opponents on the other hand had a lack lustre team performance last time round. They sure made amends for that this time round. They hit poor old Milton Keynes for all nine first half frames. As far as I can tell that is the first time that a team has won all nine first half frames. If this was a boxing match the ref would have stopped it at this point. It not so Milton Keynes had to come out for the second half. They did a little better in the back nine and took four frames of Shrewsbury to "only" lose 14-4.

Things went a little more like normal for Milton Keynes B when they took on Grove Elite (West Yorkshire) Jody Willers & Brad Dean from Milton Keynes B put their team 2-1 up but Grove Elite won the next four frames to shake Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes steadied the ship and by the end of the match had the chance to make it 9-9 but lost out Grove Elite 10-8 in the end.

Grove Elite had no answer to the Onslaught the Shrewsbury team inflicted on them. Shrewsbury hit them hard from the start dropping only one frame on their way to the knock out section of the event.

Table Twenty Two
The match between Witney (Oxfordshire) and Dorchester (Dorset) was always a tough one to call and so it proved on the table as well. Although it has to be said that Dorchester started the better of the two teams. They took the first half 6-3 and would have expected much the same in the second half. It is credit to Witney that they did not roll over and play dead. They chose to make a fight of it. So much so that by the time they got to the final frame of the match they were just a point adrift. Stu Griffin held his nerve and won his second of the match to level the score at 9-9.

Dorchester were sent back to play Luton (Bedfordshire) whilst Witney relaxed but it would not be for long as they saw Luton attack Dorchester so hard that they only got one of the first half frames. Things only got marginally better in the second half with Dorchester managing another three frames to make the final score 14-4 to Luton.

Luton did all the hard work in their first match by beating Dorchester so although this match was a winner take all clash Luton could afford a draw Luton started the better of the two teams winning three of the first four frames and this was basically the end of the road for Witney. Witney gave it a good go but Luton reached the nine frames they needed with a four frame run when the score was 5-5

Table Twenty Three
Godalming A (Surrey) were tipped to make light of Wantage (Oxfordshire) but Wantage obviously failed to read the script and just about kept pace with Godalming until the Surrey outfit engineered an 8-5 lead for themselves. Godalming added another frame to reach 9 but sandwiched in between that though Wantage took four frames to earn a well deserved draw. Wantage have Phil Collins and Paul Aldridge to thank for their draw as they won all of their frames.

City of Leicester must have thought they had what it took to oust Wantage out of the group but Wantage had other ideas and to prove the point they took seven of the first nine frames. When the teams re-started Wantage picked up where they left of quickly made it impossible for City of Leicester to win the match. Any hopes City of Leicester had of salvaging a point were dashed when Danny Weeks of Wantage sealed the win. Wantage went on to win 13-5.

In the final group match for this section pitted Godalming and City of Leicester, Leicester were already out but had a very big say in the outcome of this group. The situation as far as Godalming was concerned was simple get more than 13 frames and they would go through any less and it would be Wantage to go through. Although City of Leicester took a battering and Godalming reached their target of thirteen frames City of Leicester took enough frames of them to set up a play off between Wantage and Godalming which Godalming won 2-1 to go through

Table Twenty Four
Hertford (Hertfordshire) did their usual trick of seeing how far they can go behind before they realise they are in a match. The benefactors of Hertford's generosity were Northants County (Northamptonshire) who raced to a 3-0 lead. Then Hertford's engine started up and they took five of the next six frames to lead 5-4 ay half time. For Northants Wayne Gardner, Craig Haynes & Stuart Bond did what they did in the first half and added another win apiece to lead 7-6. In the end the lead that Hertford gave at the start of the match came back to haunt them as they had to win the last frame of the match to claim the draw.

Surrey Warriors (Surrey) recovered from a two frame deficit to only trail Hertford by single frame at the half way point. Hertford only had to match their first half performance to put themselves in contention to win the group but Hertford's past record came back to haunt them as they won only two of the nine second half frames to crash out of the event yet again in the group stage this time 11-7.

Northants County knew the only chance they had of reaching the knock out section would be to beat Surrey Warriors and despite trailing for just about the whole match they needed to keep close enough to strike if the chance came. When Northants County through Paul Tennant and Gary Francis levelled the match at 9-9 it seemed that Northants County might just do it. However Surrey Warriors held on and won the next frame through Mike Smith to reach the nine frames that spelt the end of the road for Northants County

Table Twenty Five
Reigate (Surrey) took on Staffordshire's Afford and was tipped to win this match but Afford set about them from the start going in to a 5-2 lead. Reigate eventually clawed themselves back in to the match at 6-7. That was as close as Reigate was allowed to get as Afford won the next four frames without reply to take the match 11-7.

Kettering (Northamptonshire) v Reigate on paper looked a very close match but that's not how it turned out. The alarm bells must have started ringing for Reigate when they lost the first five frames. Half the damage was repaired when Reigate pulled back three frames to make the half time score 6-3 to Kettering. Kettering killed the match off when Bob Love, Rvani & Gray restored Kettering's five frame advantage. From that point on there was only going to be one team winning this match and that was Kettering the only question was what would the final score. In the end it was a fairly comfortable 12-6 win.

In the final match in this section Afford took on Kettering for the group and given they both won their first match everything was there to be had. The match swung one way then the next but by the half way stage Afford had the advantage at 5-4. After the re-start Kettering forced the issue and won the nine frames that meant they could not be caught by Afford whatever happened had the final three frames been played.

Table Twenty Six
Saw Littlehampton (Surrey) take on one of the teams in the Interleague with real pedigree, Warwickshire's Rugby. The boys from Rugby showed who the daddy was in this particular tie as they took five of the opening six. Littlehampton added another through Gary Blackwood but there was no rescue party on the way for Littlehampton as Rugby added another six without reply. The score finally ended up as 15-5 to Rugby. In the end Littlehampton had no real answer to Andy Barnett, Johnny Webb, Pete Evans & Roger Hunt awesome power.

After receiving such a battering from Rugby Littlehampton were in need of a pick me up an hoped that Trent Trophies B would help. But it was not to be. Trent Trophies A won the first two, Littlehampton won the next three, Trent Trophies B won the next four, Littlehampton won the next four, Trent Trophies B won the next three and Littlehampton won the final two matches. The net result of all that was that both teams could not make the most of some heavy scoring runs and a result the teams had to settle for a 9-9 draw.

When the match between Trent Trophies B and Rugby started the advantage was definitely with Rugby. They had won their first match whilst Trent Trophies B had only drawn. Rugby must have wondered what was going on as Trent Trophies B set about them. With the match at 6-6 Rugby collapsed and Trent Trophies B won the final three frames of the match to do something that is very rare in the Interleague. Overhaul a team that won their first match whilst you only drew.

Table Twenty Seven
Worcester HotShots (Worcestershire) first foray into the realms of top level Interleague gave them some good memories to take back with them. If there was a reason for losing against Brighton B then it would have to be when twice in the match they gave up four frames without adding any of their own to the scoreboard. Giving eight frames to any team is not to be recommended if your intention is to win. However despite those two aberrations Worcester HotShots only just lost out 10-8 in the end their hero was Darren Brace who won both his frames. For Brighton it was Dave Very, Greg Lewis & Rik Payne who did the business for Brighton.

Having lost the first match the last thing Worcester HotShots needed was to have to beat Mexborough (South Yorkshire) to keep their hopes alive. They started of well enough taking the opening three frames from three quality players John Waller, John Astill and Terry Hunt. Worcester HotShots played so well that at the half way point they were 6-3 up. However when you can call on players like Mexborough have available to them nothing is certain and all Mexorough's super stars did the business in the second half and eventually won the match 10-8.

Brighton had very little to offer in the way of defence as Mexborough mesmerised them with their sheer class. Mind you when you are playing a team that boasts Terry Hunt, a former World Championship finalist, a top Professional in Martin Hazell, tour players Gavin Preskey & Alister Bailie as well as Lee Smith, John Waller, John Astill & Glen Khan it's not surprising that you loose sight of what you were supposed to be doing.

Table Twenty Eight
Coventry (Warwickshire) always have a quality team whenever they travel to Great Yarmouth their opponents in the opening match in this group haven't the "faces" that Coventry have in their team but they are capable of matching them if the whole team plays well. That's how it started as well with Walsall Select giving as good as they got for the first six frames. Then Coventry strung together three frames on the bounce and that took the wind out of Walsall's sails. In the second half Coventry could sense that all was not going well in the Walsall camp and went for the kill through Liam Farrell & Surinder Singh and eventually ran out comfortable 12-6 winners.

Rochester (Kent) gave Walsall select the same treatment that Coventry had in the first match. Rochester however went about it the hard way but thanks to a solid second half performance from Darren Collison, Ian Hubbard, Neil Ward, Ian Kettel & Jordan Church Rochester was able to set up the winner takes all showdown with Coventry.

Rochester's big guns were not exactly blazing against Coventry but they were firing well enough to keep Coventry on the back foot for the whole of their group decider. At the same time Coventry's engine room was not as well oiled as it usually is. The difference in performance meant that Rochester sailed through this decider 10-5 thanks to the whole team doing their bit.

Table Twenty Nine
East Herts (Hertfordshire) were in no mood to take prisoners when they met Canterbury (Kent) and they went on the rampage. Frame after frame was posted on the East Herts side of the score sheet until the half way point when East Herts had clocked up eight of the opening nine frames. With the match all but over East Herts took their foot off the gas a little as Canterbury won four of the nine to cut their loses to a 13-5 defeat but the difference in class was startling at times.

Canterbury having been battered by East Herts must have wondered what Ilkeston were going to hit them with especially when Ilkeston took a three nil lead. Canterbury then levelled and that gave them the confidence to lock horns with Ilkeston and when it all finished the honours were all even at 9-9.

Ilkeston like so many new teams seem to have the ability to frighten the old established teams. Ilkeston took the first three frames against East Herts but the real difference in the teams is the way the quality sides take it all in their stride and still win. That is exactly what East Herts did from three nil down they won the group by taking the following nine frames without a response from Ilkeston.

Table Thirty
The wheels came of Wareham's (Dorset) trolley in their match with Leicester County (Leicestershire). Things started off normally enough when after five frames the score was 3-2 to Leicester County. Skipper Neil Bassford then started and finished a nine frame blitz on Wareham. Wareham won the next two but by then it was a face saving job as Leicester County went on to win 12-4.

To make matters worse for Wareham, Imperial II (London) were their next opponents. Imperial set about Wareham from the start and although Wareham won two frames all the rest were won by Imperial so Imperial unbelievably had a better record to take into their group decider against Leicester County.

Leicester County against Imperial II looked a little one sided and that is how it panned out as Imperial took seven of the first nine frames to all but secure their place amongst the elite last 32. Leicester County then started to put some frames on their side of the score board with a three frame run led by Dhams Dhanak, Harry Patel & Martin Randell but at the time that happened Imperial were at the door and in the very next frame they got the frame that gave them qualification

Table Thirty One
Coalville (Leicestershire) have been to Great Yarmouth a few times now and know how to win so it was no surprise to see them giving Nuneaton (Warwickshire) a real hard time of it, try as they might Nuneaton just could not shake of Coalville but at the same time were never really threatened by them either. All that said it still took Nuneaton until the final frame of the match to claim a 10-8 win. Freeman was the star for Coalville as he won both his frames.

Tolworth (Surrey) did what they had to do to ensure that they would be taking on Nuneaton for the group with a better batting average. And it was all thanks to a four frame run in the final section of the match thanks to inspired performances from Steve Petty, Cliff Eastwood, Frank Strivens and Andy Sutherland to steer Tolworth to an 11-7 win.

The group decider between Nuneaton and Tolworth had all the makings of a real nail bitter with both teams more than capable of winning. Tolworth started as the marginal favourites. But it was too close to call, Tolworth got took to the edge when they took the opening two frames. Any advantage was wiped out as Nuneaton took 6 of the next seven frames to lead 6-3 at the half way stage. And that appears to have been the turning point. Try as they might Tolworth could not pull it back. It seemed like the frames would run out before Tolworth could pull it back and unfortunately that's what happened as Nuneaton eventually beat Tolworth 10-7 to dump Tolworth out of the event in the group stage. It was a case of Tolworth's top players not doing it on the table all bar Jason Norris that is who could do no more that win his two frames.

Table Thirty Two
Brighton (Sussex) took on City of Coventry (Warwickshire) in the last of the phase one matches and given they have players with the knowledge of Mark Proto, Pete Ashman, Damien Campsey, International Dean Torode, IPA tour players Moray Dolan and Darren Welfare you would think they would "nuke" everything in their way but they don't instead they keep it interesting by underperforming. To be fair to Brighton they were never really under threat but a team with this much class in its line up should bulldoze their way through the group section instead they only won 11-7.

Riddings and District (Nottinghamshire) killed of any lingering hopes that City of Coventry might win the group when they lost 10-8 but it was close. The scores were all level at 8-8 but then Waterhouse & Hallsworth stepped up to the plate and won both frames to set up a head to head for Riddings and District with Brighton.

Brighton it has to be said were red hot favourites to win the match but I doubt that even they would have thought they would have quite as easy as it was as they reached the knockout stage without losing a single frame the group decider.

KNOCK OUT SECTION

If the group section of the event failed to throw up real group of death type matches then as a direct result of the big teams missing each other they were going to have to meet head on in the knock out phase. The knockout section is where the real business of the event takes place there are no get out of jail free cards here. It's a dog eat dog world where if you take you foot of a drowning man's head then don't moan if he catches breath and drowns you instead.

As if we needed proof of what was said above the very first match drawn out was a cracker. Two of the best teams in the event drawn together in the last 32 when both teams were more than capable of reaching the final of any event, which indecently, they both have in the past. Both P.J.'s Stourbridge and the Allo'aos must have thought "oh no not them", but the power and self confidence contained within both teams would mean that very soon after the initial thoughts of dread had subsided. The dread they felt at first would have been replaced with a new feeling, the more pragmatic thought that if we are going to win the competition we will have to beat them at some stage so why not now.

Whilst both teams would believe they were going to win the match only one would. It looked like a tight tie and that's how it was from the word go as Pat Ward took the first frame for P.J.'s Stourbridge. Lee Clough then levelled for the All'oas. Back came P.J.'s Stourbridge via Rob Chilton. The All'oas then took the lead with a three frame run thanks to Karl Boyes, Nathan Bridges & Matt Morris. Richie Foxall pulled it all back together only to see Dave Chalmers restore All'oas one frame advantage. P.J.'s Stourbridge's Wayne Bedford won the final frame of the first half to again trail by the single frame.

Lee Clough won the opening frame (and his second of the match) of the second half to give All'oas a two frame cushion, this was wiped out by Rob Chilton & Hiten Patel so it was all square again. Nathan Bridges put the All'oas one up again only to see Paul Dunkey wipe it out. By this time things were beginning to heat up as neither side could break the others resolve. The All'oas must have thought when Del Redmond & Matt Morris gave them a two frame cushion with only two to play they were going to make it. Back came P.J.'s Stourbridge through Wayne Bedford and Pat Ward to force the draw at 9-9. Now it was sudden death via a play off that would separate the two teams. All'oas captain Kevin O'Halloran elected to play Karl Boyes, Lee Clough & Dave Chalmers whilst Paul Dunkey went for Neil Raybone, Wayne Bedford & Rob Chilton.it was the All'oas who won the play off 2-0 and go through to the next round leaving P.J.'s Stourbridge as the first of the big name casualties. But they weren't going to be the last.

Mexborough made very short work out of Imperial II as they crushed them 10-3 thanks to the form of Terry Hunt, Martin Hazel, Lee Smith, Gavin Preskey, John Waller, John Astil, Glyn Khan & Alister Bailie. For Imperial II John Kelly, Pat O'Kane & Nigel Smith were their frame winners.

Kettering came up against a brick wall in the shape Imperial I and went down 10-5 as Dean Wisher, Andy Breen, Ramesh Gokhul, Ben Clements, Darren Suchley all combined to snuff out the Kettering candle.

Bicester A & Ipswich seemed a tight tie when the draw was made but it didn't turn out like that as Ipswich battered the Oxfordshire boys 10-2 thanks to Paul Keeble, Richard Twomey, Alan Mower, Mark Keeble and Ned Acton provided the steam for the roller that flattened Bicester.

Brighton were yet again the victims of a mugging at Great Yarmouth as the in form team of the event Nuneaton beat them 10-6 even the reputations of Brighton's finest Damien Campsey, Pete Ashman, Morray Dolan, Dean Torode and Darren Welfare was not enough to put a halt to Nuneaton's run. It's fair to say that Brighton were the favourites to win this match so crash go another of the big names.

Surrey Warriors needed a play off to get past Trent Trophies B as Trent Trophies B came back from the dead to force the play off. Sean Yates and Richard Lambert did the damage for Surrey Warriors.

The Luton V Triangle tie looked a bit like bringing lambs to the slaughter and that's the way turned out as Triangle through Ady Ibbotson, Chris Melling, Shane Appleton, Ralph Winfield, Mick Hill, Andy Richardson, Darren Appleton and Mark Johnson restricted Luton to a single frame before Triangle reached the required ten frames. Luton's hero was Steve Makenzie with his win for Luton.

The Shrewsbury and Lye & Stourbridge tie was another that seemed as though it would be tight as it turned out was anything but tight as Shrewsbury set about season campaigners Lye & Stourbridge with a vengeance and ran out 10-3 winners as Darren Brooks, Stu Price, Leighton Davies, Dave Pritchard, Malcom McVean all combined to end the match much earlier than anyone expected.

Another lesson in how to play pool was meted out by East Herts to Milton Keynes A. Things went wrong for Milton Keynes right from the start as Danny Miller, Mark Thrussell, Tony Vickers and Andy Collett all won to leave Milton Keynes with a mountain to climb. They were climbing it well too, led by Adam Marlow, Milton Keynes won four of the next five frames thanks to Dave Minster, Danny Molloy & Terry Davidson. That was where Milton Keynes accent faltered as Danny Miller, Mark Thrussell, Rob Southey, Tony Vickers and Des Smith all won back to back frames to stop Milton Keynes progress 10-4

You don't often get "local Derbies" at this level but by whatever criteria you use to define it this was a local derby. Wigan and Hyndburn both of whom are no strangers to the knockout stage. Hyndburn struck twice through their skipper & some say tyrannical dictator John Chapman and D. Wareing. After winning their first frame thanks to who else but Ian Davenport, Wigan dropped another two frames behind as Fleming & Fraser both won for Hyndburn but after that that Wigan slowly but surely ate away at Hyndburns lead and by half time it was Wigan with their noses in front by 5-4. once Hyndurn was pegged back it was the end of the road for them as Wigan piled on the frames and won the match 10-6.

Rochester again failed to live up to their pre match billing as a contender as they crashed out 10-8 to Wolverhampton Wednesday B. of all of Rochester's big guns only Ian Kettel & Jamie Kitchen performed and with so many of Rochester's heavy artillery missing the target Wolverhampton Wednesday nipped in and poured water over Rochester's canon.

Brierly Hill took on Godalming in another what seemed a tight match that ended up more than a little one sided. Brierly Hill decided the best way to tackle Godalming was to go for the jugular. They took the first five frames without a response from Godalming. By the time Godalming realise the trouble they were in it was too late. Max Brooker, Carl O'Rouke & Darren Dodds took three out of four frames but Liam Driver, Tony Fry, Lee Hazelhurst and the master tactician Dave Preece put Godalming out of their misery by winning the match 10-3

Trent Trophies A, if you get the choice, is a team that you would want to avoid as they are the most successful team the Interleague has ever seen. They are to the Interleague what Ferrari are to Formula 1. a team that can be beaten but always seems to come up trumps regardless of the opposition. I doubt that anybody envied Leeds position. Although they lost 10-5 you have to say that Leeds put up more of a fight than a lot of teams.

Another 10-5 win was for Dawley A against Ollerton the difference between this match and the one above was that this one pitted two massive teams together and brings sharply into focus the achievement of Leeds in the previous match. Either of these two Teams has what it takes to beat the other. So it was a bit of a surprise when Ollerton were 6-3 down at the half way point. Going that far behind to a team like Dawley is not recommended. Ollerton only managed two more frames before Dawley crossed the finishing line.

The knock out always manages to produce the odd surprise and the match between Wolverhampton Wednesday A and Barking Elite was certainly a surprise result. Both teams are steeped in history and just about every where you look in the history pages of this event one of the teams will have featured in it strongly. It has to be said that neither teams is at the strength it used to be but they are both still good teams. Of the two, Wolverhampton Wednesday would have been the favourites as Barking Elite have been out of the event for a few years and this is their first time back.

The match was all but over by the half way point as Barking Elite went 9-0 up thanks to Keith Hannon, Gary Parsons, Steve Benjafield, Andy Holland and company who went to town on Wolverhampton Wednesday. Shaun Eaton Lees won the first match of the second for Wolverhampton Wednesday but Barking Elite claimed the match in the very next fame.

St Albans Saints who did so well to win their group were paired with Sun Valley who are another of the Interleague's power houses. They are in the "oh god have we got them class" and St Albans Saints were given a graphic illustration of why they have that reputation as the slick well oiled machine that is Sun Valley clocked up seven of the first nine frames. By this time St Albans Saints knew it was all over for them and Sun Valley got the three frames they needed without ant further input from the Saints

To reach the last sixteen of an event the size of the Interleague is a feat that can not be overstated by the time we reach this round 80 teams have fallen by the wayside and all of them were amongst the best teams in their own counties.

First of the last sixteen matches was that of the All'oas and Mexborough this was just one of those juicy ties that you just want to see happen and when it does it's special not least because of the players involved. This match like some of the others in this round is worthy of a final. The players available to both captains is just unbelievable. All'oas struck first through Lee Clough but Mexborough struck back through Terry Hunt, Gavin Preskey & Martin Hazel. All'oas pulled it back to all square when Matt Morris & Jason Hill won. John Astill & Alistaire Bailie restored Mexborough's lead but sandwiched in between was Andy "how's your mother" Sudworth's win.

From the start of the second half it was no contest as Mexborough turned up the heat and took the next five frames through Phil Cartwight, Terry Hunt, Gavin Preskey, Martin Hazel & Lee Smith to stop the contest. This was one of the All'oas worst defeats in recent years but who could argue about the players who did it to them. It would take a special team to stop Mexborough when they are in full flow.

Ipwich gave it a go in their match against Imperial I and more or less kept pace with the London boys onlt trailing by the odd frame at the half way point. Indeed just after the restart they got the score back to 6-6 then Imperial through J.J. Faul, Ramesh Gokhul, Ben Clements & John Wylie all won to take Imperial through to the nexr round 10-6 but Ipswich can feel proud of the fact it took a good run to beat them.

The Nuneaton v Surrey Warriors match was a bit of a non starter as far as Surrey Warriors were concerned as Nuneaton powered their way through the first half 6-3 thanks to Mark Chapman, Scott Varden, Matt Cooke, Steve Teds, Nigel Griffiths & Karl Knight.

Things didn't get any better at the star of the second half either as Nuneaton won the first three and from that point on it was just a question of who was going to win Nuneaton's tenth frame to put them through and that honour eventually fell to Steve Teds.

Shrewsbury had been playing well all weekend but when you draw a team like Triangle it's woefully inadequate to "to just play well" you need to be playing out of your skin just to keep up with them.

The writing was on the wall right from the off as Chris Melling, Andy Richardson, Shane Appleton, Ralph Winfield, Darren Appleton, Rob Wilson and Mick Hill all won to leave Shrewsbury 7-2 down at the half way point. Steve Richardson & the ever reliable Malcom McViean got Shrewsbury's two frames. Triangle dealt the death blow as soon as the second half started by winning the next three frames to knock Shrewsbury out.

East Herts gave Wigan a bit of a mauling in their clash but Wigan weren't going to just give in. Every time East Herts started to look like they were moving away Wigan came back at them, well that's the story of the first half anyway. Ian Lloyd, Shawn Dawber, Dave Arstall and Wayne Dutton won for Wigan. The second half is wher East Herts showed Wigan a clean pair of heels as they won all five frames of the second half to reach the ten frames they needed to get through. Their wins came from Mark Thrussell, Danny Miller, Tony Vickers, Nev Glover and captain Neil Toms.

One of the closest last sixteen matches was between Wolverhampton Wednesday B and Brierly Hill ironically both from the West Midlands so perhaps its no surprise it was close. Wolverhampton Wednesday B stole a march on Brierly Hill when they won the first frame and managed to keep until the final two frames of the half with wins for Lenor, Jones, Bannister & Thaker. Brierly Hill five came from Tony Fry, Dave Preece, Rod Bannister, Ian Priest and Dave Bridgewater.

From then on Brierly Hill did just enough to ward of the attentions of Wolverhampton Wednesday to secure a 10-8 win but in order to do they they had to win the final three frames of the match to do so.

Without any shadow of doubt the biggest shock of the round was the exit of Trent Trophies A, not I hasten to add because of their opponents but because it is unthinkable that they should go out so early. Dawley set their stall out early on with David Blagborough and James Brennen putting Dawley two up.

Things went back to normal as Lee Kendall and Mark Blackshaw levelled. Dale Blagborough won his frame to restore the lead for Dawley. Trent Trophies A finally got themselves in front thanks to Gaz Potts and Nick Weller. Its at this point most teams crumble but not Dawley. Seamus Keogh and Keith Price both won to give Dawley the lead at 5-4 at the half way point.

Gaz Potts with his second win of the match brought Trent Trophies A back level only to see James Brennen, Ian Duffy and Craig Reynolds all win their frames for Dawley. Adam Davis pulled one back for Trent Trophies A.

Keith Price put Dawley into a can't lose the match in regular time position as he put his team 9-6 to the good. However, Trent Trophies A are used to pulling out massive frames when they are needed. Their back line of Carl Morris, Daz Henshall & Daz Lightfoot all held their nerve and pulled it back to 9-9.

Yet another play off was required to separate two teams in this event. Trent Trophies A put Lee Kendall, Gaz Potts and Carl Morris in to the fray whilst Dawley chose Craig Reynolds, David Blagborough and James Brennen. The result unbelievably was 2-1 to Dawley but for everyone that was watching it was the Gaz Potts frame that decided it. When after a good clearance he snookered himself on the black with little hope of escaping without leaving it on even if he hit it. In the end he missed it and David Blagborough managed somehow under all that pressure to clear up and put Dawley in to the quarter finals and Trent Trophies A on the first plane home.

In the quarter finals Mexborough took on the might of Imperial I and what a clash that was as Imperial I won the first two frames through Dean Wisher and Andy Breen then Mexborough took the next three through Gavin Preskey, Martin Hazel and Lee Smith,. Imperial I then retook the lead with three frames from Sean Halligan, John Wylie & Darren Suchley. Alistair Baile ended the first half with a win for Mexborough to trail 4-5. theat was pretty much the end for Mexborough as Imperial I turned up the heat. Despite wins for Terry Hunt and lee Smith. Imperial I won the match 10-6.

Nuneaton's magnificent run came to an abrupt halt when they meet Triangle. Adi Ibbotson and Chris Melling put Triangle two up before Mick Richardson pulled one back for Nuneaton but then the Triangle machine cranked up the revs as Shane Appleton, Ralph Winfield, Mick Hill, Rob Wilson and Daren Appleton all added frames for Triangle to lead 7-2 at half time. With Triangle so far in front the rest was just a formality as Triangle ran out 10-4 winners.

East Herts will be kicking themselves over letting a 6-3 lead slip when they took on Brierly Hill. Had East Herts studied the form book for the weekend they would have seen that Brierly Hill were the come back kings. They had been behind in most of their matches over the weekend but still managed to turn it round in the second half and that's just what happened in this match as Brierly Hill went on a five frame run that put Brierly Hill 9-7 up. With East Herts looking dead and buried after such a promising start it was up to Mick Darragh and finally David Barbrook with a monster clearance to pull the two sides back together again at 9-9. in the play off East Herts went for Danny Miller, Neil Toms and Nev Glover whilst Brierly Hill opted for Tony Fry, Dave Preece and Rod Banister. Miller won the first frame with a clearance. The two captains went head to head with Dave Preece beating Neil Toms with another clearance. All attention turned to the final match with Rod Banister going in off when it looked like he was going to clear. Glover went to the table with two visits and only two balls on the table but missed the first ball, left himself no shot and the rest as they say is history as Bannister cleared the remaining ball to give Brierly Hill a 11-10 victory.

Dawley A v Sun Valley here was yet another great battle two street fighters going head to head and slugging it out until there was only one of them still standing. The early rounds went to Sun Valley as they piled on the frames until by the end of the first half they were 7-2 up. It looked all over at the start of the second half but the performance against Trent Trophies A must have inspired Dawley. And they came out and gave to Sun Valley what they had to suffer in the first half. So powerful was Dawley's attacking it restricted Sun Valley to a single frame and with the score at 9-8 Dawley found their way to the semi final blocked by the colossus that is Jim I'Anson. He has played such a pivotal role at the back for Sun Valley. And yet again he come up with the goods and forced a play off. Dawley won the play off to claim the final place in the semi final.

If ever there was going to be a "peoples" final it would be Triangle v Imperial 1 the draw meant that was not going to happen but the next best thing was a Triangle v Imperial I semi final and that did happen. Who won to most onlookers was irrelevant it that Pool they wanted to see. Two of the most attacking teams in the Interleague playing each other for a place in the final what more could you ask for?. It was one of those moments in Pool that is destined to become folklore. talked about long after the result has been forgotten. Such is the esteem these two teams are held in even people who weren't there will tell their pool buddies that they were.

Right from the off there was an incredible atmosphere around the generated by the teams themselves as much as the watching crowd.

Dean Wisher got Imperial I of the mark as he tends to do most of the time only to watch as Chris Melling and Andy Richardson gave Triangle a 2-1 lead. J.J. Faul restored parity. Rob Wilson and Mick Hill both won to give Triangle a 4-2 lead. Imperial I then hit Triangle for three frames through John Wylie, Darren Suchley & Brian Evans to put Imperial I back in the lead. His celebration at winning had to be seen to believed, normally he just shakes your hand but such was the buzz that even he could not resist letting everyone know how much winning the frame meant.

As far as Imperial I goes that was their high water mark as Chris Melling, Rob Wilson, Mick Hill, Andy Richardson and Darren Appleton all won in back to back frames to put Triangle on the brink of a second final in three years. Imperial I hopes were raised when Sean Halligan won his frame but it was all over when Ady Ibbitson sealed a 10-6 win for Triangle.

After the match both Darren Appleton and Mick Hill admitted that the pressure out there was so intense that they both had twitches. Mick said he was more nervous during the match than he was when he was playing in the World singles final earlier in the year. That is what being part of the Interleague is all about. You are doing for your mates and that is where the pressure can become so great. It's the fear of letting your mates down.

The other semi final between Dawley A and Brierly Hill couldn't conjure up the magic of the previous semi final but it still produced its fair share of drama as the match swung one way then the other Dale Blagborough won the opening frame for Dawley A but Tony Fry cancelled it out. David Blagborough then restored it with his win. Dave Preece & Kev Jordan edged Brierly Hill in to the lead with their two wins before Craig Reynolds won his frame for Dawley A. Dave Bridgewater ended the first half with his win to give Brierly Hill a 5-4 half time lead.

Dawley A came back at the start of the second half with three frames through James Brennen, David Blagborough and Ian Duffy. Dave Preece won his frame for Brierly Hill but Craig Reynolds and Paul Smith retaliated to put Dawley 9-8 up. Watts kept Brierly Hill in it with his win but Dale Blagborough put Dawley into the final with his second win of the match.

Triangle had reached the final without really being tested or so it would seem as the road to the final will testify they played six and won six that's not really that special a lot of teams that win do that. What is special is the fact that in reaching the final they won 60 frames and lost only 19 with Mick Hill and Chris Melling on 100% followed by Darren Appleton on xxx%. On that kind of form it was going to be hard for Dawley to make a real impression.

When the match started Dawley caught Triangle completely of guard and took the first four frames thanks to Dave Blagborough, James Brennen, Dale Blagborough and Craig Reynolds. At this point Triangle turned their engine on full power as Ralph Winfield, Mick Hill, Rob Wilson and Darren Appleton all won their frames to level at four apiece. Seamus stopped the rot for Dawley as he won the ninth frame to go in at half time 5-4 up.

Chris Melling took the first frame of the second half but James Brennen took the next to keep Dawley in front. The big break came when Mick Hill, Rob Wilson and Darren Appleton all won their frames to put Triangle 8-6 up. Dawley had finally been caught and the last four frames were shared but that was no use to Dawley as they narrowly lost to Triangle 10-8 to bring yet another chapter of the Knock Out Cup to an end.

Dawley put up a good fight but like every one else had found over the weekend Triangle were the best team and their winning record proves it. It is also worth mentioning that as far as I can tell Mick Hill is the only player ever to have played in every match it is possible to in the Interleague and won the lot. Yes that's played 14 won 14 and if you don't think that's impressive then you just don't have a clue about the ability of the players playing in the Interleague. Ask an experienced Interleague player if they are impressed by that and I am sure they confirm what has been written.

Tom Fahy
Tournament Director

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