THE semi-finals of the Concorde Handicap Trophy threw up two terrific matches.
First we had Woodfield Park A, needing only 13 points from their two remaining matches to be sure of the Division I title, taking on Brooks B, one of only two teams capable of stopping them.
After three sets Brooks led by 12 points, after six it was 10 and after eight it was only nine points, leaving Keith Skarz, 38 points down against handicap, to battle it out with Brooks’ Stuart Sykes, down 23 against the handicap.
Sykes won by 43-32, giving Brooks victory by 339-319.
Shaun Ellis, back marker on (-4), was top scorer on the evening, and it was his performance especially which carried Brooks through to the finals.
He started well with a two-point success over Woodfield Park’s Mark Pugh, on (-1) 41-39, and followed it up with a 21-point gain from Skarz and a further 17 points from David Wood. Pugh was Woodfield Park’s most outstanding player.
Having held Ellis to just a two-point deficit, he plundered 15 from Sykes and 18 from Philip Schofield in an excellent semi-final, with some moments of nervousness but with brilliant hitting by both teams.
Meanwhile, on the other table, Division III’s Kingsmith Eng F were taking on Marsh Con B from Division II.
If the Brooks/Woodfield Park encounter was exciting, this was unbelievably tense.
For four sets the Kingsmith F squad of Jack Woodhead, Oliver Shaw and Jack Farrar eked out small gains totalling 15 points in all, from the Marsh Con B trio of Paul Hirst, Glyn Normanton and Alan West.
Try as they may, and they did try, the ability of the youngsters, and their handicaps, seemed to be a bridge too far.
However, it all changed.
Slowly but surely Marsh B hauled their opponents back, first by one point, then nine (a brilliant contribution by Glyn Normanton when he beat Farrar by 44-35, having given him an 18-point start) then break-even and finally two points, leaving the match poised for another grand finale.
This time, however, there were only three points between the teams in Kingsmith’s favour, 338-335.
Marsh B could have scored a maximum of 379 and Kingsmith, including Woodhead’s 16 points start already had 354, needing just 26 to win.
Normanton kept Woodhead to 26, but Woodhead had fought magnificently to win the second game by 11-9, thus restricting Marsh to a maximum of 377.
It was a wonderful set, an even more wonderful match, and while disappointing for the Marsh B team, the prospects are of a great final between Brooks B and Kingsmith F.
Lockwood Con A 4 (Tweedale 3) Lockwood Con B 6 (Krischke 2, Buckley 2, Rawnsley 2).
Woodfield Park B 5 (Moorhouse 2, Sykes 2, Belk) Kingsmith Eng A 5 (Walker, Ali 3).
Marsh D 5 (Wilson, Martin 3, Dunn) Scissett B 5 (Clarke 2, Heywood 2).
Marsh A 8 (Dawson 3, Bailes 2, A Normanton 2) Golcr Lib B 2 (Tattersley, Chatterton).
Golcar Lib A 2 (Auty 2) March C 8 (Borcic 3, Rickwood 2, Taylor 2).
Marsh B 4 (G Normanton 2, West, Clegg) Marsh D 6 (Martin 3, Hague 2).
Lockwood Con D 5 (Kerr, Heywood 3) Kingsmith Eng F 5 (Woodhead 2, Shaw 2, Farrar).
Brooks D 0 Kingsmith E 10 (Smith 3, Knight 3, Cook 3).
Semi-Finals: Woodfield Park A 319 Brooks B 339, Kingsmith Eng F 380 Marsh Con B 377.