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Robert Fulford regains the World title, and John Gibbons makes it a clean sweep for England by winning the Plate

[<<] [>>] by Roger White
8th December 2002 (World Championship)

Rain is still beating into Wellington and the surrounding areas. A decision is made to move the two finals (main event and plate) up the east coast north of Wellington to lawns at Paraparaumu. Although the weather is clouded and there is an occasional skiff of rain, the lawns here are playable. Spectators manage to find their way here, albeit with some difficulty, and the phone has been busy with people seeking directions.

The lawns are lush and somewhat slower than the lawns at Kelburn. After a hit-up, play gets under way at 10.17 am. Toby Garrison (NZ) and Robert Fulford (E) compete for the championship (best of 5). John Gibbons (E) and Steve Meatheringham (A) continue their pegged-down game for the plate final.

Toby wins the toss and has first turn, playing blue and black. Black is played to the east boundary level with hoop 6. Robert sets a duffer with red. Toby hits down the line from B baulk, misses black and ends in corner 4. Robert hits his duffer with yellow, goes to black and unsuccessfully tries to get a rush on blue. This is cut 6 yards in from corner 4.

He rolls yellow 4 ft in front of 1, makes the hoop and proceeds to develop his break. It ends with yellow on 4-back and a diagonal leave in which black is near the west boundary and blue is tight against the peg. Toby shoots with black down the line at Robert's balls, misses and ends in corner 4.

Robert rushes yellow to blue and begins his second break. Black is plucked from corner 4 as he goes to four; the 4-back peel is made when going to 6; the penult peel is made going to 4-back and he finishes with a straight peel at rover. Game 1 to Robert 26-0 TP.

On the other lawn John Gibbons wins the first game 26-6.

It is raining

Game 2

Fulford opens with a supershot, sending yellow 3 yards north-west of 5. Black is sent 1 ft south of corner 2. Robert hits black with red. He rolls red in field and gets a rush on yellow to begin his break and leave his clip on 4-back. The leave is set with yellow on the east boundary level with hoop 5, and red placed to give a diagonal rush on black from the West boundary. Toby shoots from B baulk with his second ball, but again misses.

Robert begins his second turn, and places red lose in front of 4-back before going to hoop 1. The break continues. Red is rush-peeled going to hoop 3 and is sent in front of penult directly afterwards. The penult peel is made after 6, and red is sent in front of rover going to 2-back. The attempt to complete the final peel going to 3-back fails, as red bounces off the wire. The game ended with a straight peel at rover - an irish peel made with black and blue nearby. The pegout sees a second 26-0 TP to Robert. Gaining the innings on easy-paced lawns such as these is critical.

In the other game, John Gibbons has again gained the innings and completes his first break with a standard diagonal leave. Steve lifts the ball by the peg but misses.

It is still raining, but the spectators are still watching with interest. The event is being filmed for posterity by an arrangement made with a local independent film company by Croquet NZ and the WCF.

Game 3

Toby sends blue to the E boundary 14 yard north of corner 4 and Rob sends yellow just south of corner 2. Toby shoots with black down the east boundary but misses his partner ball and goes into corner 4. Rob puts red into corner 2 and Toby again shoots with black at his partner ball ending a few yards south of corner 3. This gives Robert the opportunity to rush yellow to hoop 1, make the hoop and establish a break. He ends with his clip on 4-back and a diagonal spread leave.

Toby shoots from B baulk with black and hits to applause. Red is rushed to the west boundary and then to 2, while Toby has a rush on black towards 1. It pulls up short, but Toby takes off to make the hoop and proceeds to establish a break. He attempts to place red for a 4-back peel when making hoop 3 but fails and thereafter plays a 4-ball break to 4-back and ends it with a version of the NSL in which yellow is a little out of position - approximately level with 5 and 4 yards in from the boundary. Robert lifts yellow but mis-hits at Toby's balls on the east boundary his ball going out opposite hoop 4.

Toby roquets black with blue, takes off to yellow, rushes it to corner 4, and then sends it to 2 while gaining a rush on red towards hoop 1. Although it pulls up short, he makes the hoop and proceeds to bring all balls into the break. He produces a standard triple with 4-back being made after 3, penult after 6 and rover when going to 3-back. He pegs-out - Toby 26 TP, Robert 9.

Game score at 12.50 pm - Robert 2, Toby 1

On the other lawn fortunes change. John has the innings and makes a break. He completes the 4-back peel with yellow but then breaks down when his shot is hampered by another ball and a 3 yard roquet is missed. Steve is back in the game. He makes a break in his turn. With his clip on 4-back he sets a leave with yellow about 1 yard NE of 4, red wired from it by the peg and blue with a 2 yard rush on black on the west boundary opposite hoop 2. John lifts red and shoots at yellow from the near end of A baulk but instead he misses as his ball goes cleanly through 3-back.

Steve then roquets his partner and sets out a 4-ball break but sticks in hoop 1. John plays yellow and makes penult and 4-back.

Finally rain has eased.

Game 4

Toby gains the first break and sets the wide NSL described earlier. Robert shot down the east boundary but missed, his ball ending in corner 4. Toby started establishing the three-ball break, and made hoop 1, leaving blue as a very close pioneer at hoop 2. In the croquet stroke after 1 in which his partner ball is sent to 3 while he goes to 2, Toby over-rolls just behind hoop 2. This left him a difficult angled shot through the hoop, which is faulted. Robert took over and began his break, putting Toby's second ball through Hoop 2 in the process.

By the way, in case you are interested, it is raining

Robert left blue 2 yards in from the East boundary about 14 yards north of corner 4. Black was left in the jaws of hoop 2. Red and yellow were on the west boundary 14 yards from corner 2. Toby lifted blue and shot at Robert's balls but missed. Robert completed his turn and the match with a standard triple at 14.10 pm.

Robert is the World Champion with a score of 26-0 TP, 26-0 TP, 9-26 TP, 26-11 TP


In the plate John tried a cross-wire at penult which left part of the balls showing Steve played the back ball, and was forced to peel John through penult. He made 6 hoops and the 1st peel of a straight triple but failed with an Irish at peel at penult. John made a 7 yard roquet and completed the game by pegging out after rover. John Gibbons of England won the Plate event 26-6, 26-21.


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