The sun shone all day as Chester CC hosted their semi-final match against Sheffield CC on the 26th August. Sheffield were given a warm welcome having made their long journey across the Pennines to foreign lands.
The teams were:
CHESTER: Mark Lloyd (0), John Dawson (4), David Boyd (6), Robin Tasker (8)
SHEFFIELD: Eugene Chang (0), Trevor Billard (2.5), Adrian Simmerson (11), Mark Simmerson (12)
In the doubles, Mark and John took on Eugene and Trevor and, in a scrappy game, neither side managed to put together a decisive break in the whole three and a quarter hours. The Sheffield boys were in front by 1 point when time was called but, with Mark on the lawn, he was able to run one more hoop to draw level. Sadly, Mark missed the return roquet to leave Trevor with an opening to win the game for Sheffield.
Lawn 3 saw Robin take on Adrian and, after a slow start, both players managed to get a few balls through hoops, but too many missed roquets on both sides meant big breaks were hard to come by.
The game turned at the end of a good break by Robin when he attempted to run a difficult hoop at 4-back leaving his ball on the wire, close to Adrian's Blue ball - fortuitously heading for the treacherous hoop 3 ! Adrian was able to negotiate the hoop & establish a good lead. The clock eventually beat Robin in his valiant attempts to catch up.
Mark played David who got in first but quickly missed a short roquet. It was just about the only roquet that David missed all day, hitting in time after time from 20 ft, 30 ft, 40 ft - no problem, and took an early lead.
By contrast Mark, started slowly missed everything but, by careful use of his bisques, started to play more steadily & got back into the game. The treacherous 3rd hoop proved to be David's nemesis and Mark pegged out to win +9.
In the top afternoon game, Eugene played against Mark and was able to establish a substantial early lead thanks to a beautifully controlled break all the way to peg.
Later, however, his failed hoop attempt at 2-back resulted in the balls being cross-wired and this gave Mark the opportunity to get back into the game. But Eugene's ability to secure long roquets eventually proved decisive and he was able to peg out to win +13.
At the halfway point in the second afternoon game, all four balls were for Hoop 6, as neither John nor Trevor were able to establish a game winning break. As the game progressed, Trevor was the first to establish a significant lead, but failed in his attempt to peg out both balls, leaving an opportunity for John to mount a rearguard action.
By means of good controlled play, John was able to get his first ball to Rover and his second to Penult before Trevor was able to hit in and secure a win for Sheffield.
Over on Lawn 3, Mark (two puddings) took on Robin. The start was very cagey, with both players skulking in the corners. But Mark eventually managed to build a healthy, if not commanding lead.
Robin hit in and looked in good touch, but as in the morning, the approach to Hoop 3 proved difficult, with Robin's croquet shot played with perfect weight but somehow rolling away in a semi-circle to give an impossible angle. Mark kept nipping in, running a hoop and running away, until he managed to peg out and win +13.
Also on Lawn 3, David started well, giving Adrian little opportunity to get in, but wasn't able to get a big break going. Adrian managed to get his Brown ball round to 4-back but was never able to progress much further.
David's continuing uncanny accuracy at roquets of just about any length and careful hoop-running saw him set up two good breaks, pull back the deficit and establish a good lead. Adrian could only dream about the same level of accuracy and, in the end, David ran out the deserved winner (+10) to gain a consolation point for Chester.
Score sheet summary (Chester score first):
Mark Lloyd & John Dawson lost to Eugene Chang & Trevor Billard 16-18
Robin Tasker lost to Adrian Simmerson 15-20
David Boyd lost to Mark Simmerson 17-26
Mark Lloyd lost to Eugene Chang 13-26
John Dawson lost to Trevor Billard 23-26
David Boyd beat Adrian Simmerson 23-13
Robin Tasker lost to Mark Simmerson 13-26
CHESTER 1 SHEFFIELD 6