A good turnout last night for our last knockout before next week's finals: ten players drawn at random into five pairs. Nice to see a couple of people take part who aren't among our regular league players: Matt and Sid.
The evening kicked off with a preliminary round match: Darren & Matt played Andy & James. Yes, you did read that right: our top two league players were drawn together. If this caused any nerves they weren't in evidence as Matt in particular kept his pair's scores up there with the favourites, but as is so often the case it was the doubles that made the difference and Andy & James ran out 2-0 winners.
Next up was the first semi-final featuring Tom & Ram against Ben & Sid. Ben suffered from the inconsistency that has dogged his game all season and struggled to find his trebles but Sid scored well to keep things fairly well-matched against the steady performances from Ram & Tom. Ram proved too accurate on the doubles though and he & Tom won 2-0 to get the first spot in the final.
The second semi-final saw qualifiers Andy & James take on girl power in the form of Sam & Anne, who put up a spirited fight and kept pace with some strong scoring, forcing the match to go to a deciding third leg. This leg was also a close one but it was Andy & James who were first past the post to win 2-1 and complete the line-up for the night's final.
Unlike the earlier rounds, the final was best of 5 legs. The first two were close as all the players suffered spells of loose throwing but Andy & James hit their checkouts to go 2-0 up. The third leg saw Ram up his game and find the treble-20 with more regularity, and he & Tom took one back to keep their hopes alive, but it was James who hit a rich vein of form at the key point with a succession of 80+ scores and a sharp checkout to win the fourth leg, the match and the competition.
Monday 25th is Finals Night - the League Final Knockout followed by presentations to the winners. The draw is based on final standings in the league and will be as follows:
Preliminary Round (Match A)
Anne v Natasha (best of 3 legs of 301)
Quarter Finals (best of 3 legs of 501)
Match Q1: Match A Winner v Andy
Match Q2: Tom v James
Match Q3: Darren v Ram
Match Q4: Ben v Sam
Semi Finals (best of 3 legs of 501)
Q1 Winner v Q4 Winner
Q2 Winner v Q3 Winner
Final (best of 5 legs of 501)
3rd Place Playoff (best of 3 legs of 501 between losing semi-finalists)
Easter Monday Knockout
The week after the finals it is Easter and there will be an open singles knockout on Monday 1st April. This is not a joke!