Report by Nedal Ramahi
This year's finals day was a lively and complicated affair, with the teams arriving for the promotion play-off also competing in the finals rounds of Cuppers, with the plate competition being played at the same time. To speed up proceedings, matches were played over several tables.
The day started well. Peterhouse's teams sealed their universal popularity by their unannounced absence, to the clear disappointment and dismay of the St. John's and Trinity Hall teams, who accepted that the winner of their quarter final would take a walkover in the semi-finals. John's flew into the lead with a flurry of wins, putting them 4-1 up. Tit Hall showed their gritty resilience, though, winning the next pair of games to take it to 4-3. But John's held on to take the next 5-3, securing themselves a spot in the final.
In the other side of the draw, Homerton started in an equally relentless fashion, thundering into a 3-0 lead over Magdelene in their semi-final. But the quiet and unpredictable Magdelene team were unfazed, taking all three remainging singles to level at 3-3. Homerton took the next, but the match came to a dramatic head when Chris Woodhouse missed a safety on a lone black by sending the white down, up and down the table again, coming out of the jaws of a pocket and finally tapping the black. Controversy ensued over whether the white had then touched a cushion or not. Magdelene eventually opted to take the black on instead of re-racking. A near miss left a long cushion black for the inimitable Craig Nunes. But he was saved the pressure of taking it on by a Homerton victory on the other table, giving Homerton the match 5-3 and sending them to the final.
John's had to wait to play the final, as Tit Hall and Homerton locked horns for promotion to Div 1. Tit Hall showed no signs of lost confidence from their recent defeat, keeping the game tight and going into the lead at 4-3. A black came their way in the next game. Captain James Murray tensely looked on as one of his players took it on in the middle pocket for promotion. Played coolly, the black slowly found its way in, prompting rapturous celebrations from Tit Hall - cues on the floor, players hugging and the winning player's now talismanic kneeling celebration.
As James Murray went to get a round of pints for his team, the final began on four tables simultaneously. Homerton were rampant in the singles, flying into a 4-0 lead. It fell to John's captain Tom Sutton to take his counterpart Chris Woodhouse on in a must win game. With one colour left each, Tom looked to have the tactical highground, leaving Chris a tricky safety. But the aptly named "Captain Fluke" abandoned tactics in favour of belting his yellow around the table. The yellow promptly found a pocket after multiple cushions and incredulously, a long black to the corner from mid-table also presented itself. The black went down, but Homerton's celebrations were stunted by the white following suit. John's, buoyed by this, fought back to 4-3 down, bringing the match down to the final two doubles matches. But soon enough, a nerveless black from Paul Bradwell sealed victory for the Homerton team. The John's team were great sports to the very end, staying for photos after giving Homerton a close match. But the Homerton team were the best team on the day and the deserved champions took the cup home.
In the Plate competition, Queens' 3 were in a class of their own as they despatched Div 2A champions Robinson 2 with a convincing 5-1 win. They met Trinity Grads in the final, setting up a replay of their 3B fixture. James King's team had arrived in humorous matching "Queens' Pool Turds" t-shirts, but even that could not prevent them from confidently brushing aside Trinity Grads with a 5-2 win. This capped off a stellar season for Queens', with the first team winning the league, their second team surviving for a first season in Div 1 and the thirds winning Div 3B, securing promotion and winning the plate.
|The St John's and Homerton captains before the Cuppers final.|
Cuppers is the annual knockout tournament for college 1st teams. Matches are played over 9 frames, and to World Rules, just as in the Open League. However, as the competition is knockout from the very first round, there is no need to continue a match once one team has reached a total of 5 frames. All results must be sent to the League Secretary at .NB. The team listed first in each match is the home team.
The Plate is the annual knockout tournament for all teams not in cuppers. Matches are played over 9 frames, and to World Rules, just as in the Open League. However, as the competition is knockout from the very first round, there is no need to continue a match once one team has reached a total of 5 frames. All results must be sent to the League Secretary at .NB. The team listed first in each match is the home team.
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