Not just pot luck at Pool Nationals

Newcastle’s Pool teams celebrate a very successful showing at Nationals. Image: Adam Huang ZiweiNewcastle’s Pool teams celebrate a very successful showing at Nationals. Image: Adam Huang Ziwei

On Sunday 26th February Newcastle 1s took a sensational victory in Great Yarmouth, recording our university’s first major victory in a national pool competition at an event attended by over 600 players from around the UK.

Yarmouth started with the four Newcastle teams (one women’s and three men’s teams) driving down south on the Wednesday, keen to get some extra practice in before the main event. It was only Newcastle’s second appearance at the tournament, which is the largest 8-Ball Pool Tournament for UK Universities, after our first team had previously reached the last 16 in 2016.

Confidence coming into the event was high after a successful warm-up tournament in Nottingham a few weeks earlier, where the 1s team had reached the semi-finals. Joshua Smith had reached the Quarter-Finals in the men’s individuals and Rhiannon Graham had won the women’s event.

“It is the largest 8-Ball Pool Tournament for UK Universities”

Things kicked off on Thursday with the individual tournaments, where three Newcastle players produced stand-out performances: Rhiannon Graham again exceling to reach the Women’s Quarter-Finals while Dan Stenson and Matt Hardy cut through the Men’s draw to reach the last 64 and last 32 respectively.

The team matches got underway on the Friday, with the men’s teams participating in the shield tournament and the girls in the women’s championship. First up were the group stages and with them mixed fortunes for the Newcastle teams. The 1s came through two tough games to beat Leicester 1s 6-4 and draw 5-5 with Plymouth 2s, the seeded team in their group.

1st place for Newcastle 1s in the tournament

The 2s team had a stuttering start, losing 6-4 to Surrey 2s and drawing 5-5 with group seeds Liverpool 2s. The thirds had a better time of it, beating the two favorite teams in their group, while the women’s team started off equally strongly with two wins and a draw, helped by a superb winning streak by Shasha Sun.

Things really heated up on the Saturday, with both the first and third teams winning their groups, the women’s team taking another two wins to get to the knockout stages, and the second team recovering to take second place in their group. In the knockout stages, the firsts were absolutely flying, but unfortunately for the third team who were drawn against them in the last 16, they were outclassed in a quality match in which the firsts won 6-1.

“Newcastle rallied as their top team swept to the final, memorably crushing Essex 1s”

The second team took a tense match with Bangor 1s 7-5 to reach the last 16 where they went down 7-5 to eventual semi-finalists De Montfort 1s. The women’s team were dealt an unlucky draw and fell against Kent’s 1s, who went on to win the women’s tournament.

With only the firsts left, Newcastle rallied as their top team swept to the final, memorably crushing Essex 1s 6-0 in the Semi-finals. In the final against Liverpool 1s Newcastle stumbled to go 4-2 behind but recovered magnificently to tie the match 5-5 thanks to under-pressure wins from Ryan Halliburton, Sam Egan and Matthew Green.

After losing the first playoff, things looked bleak but Newcastle struck back, Sam taking his fourth game in a row to level the tie before Matthew played a magnificent frame to win the decider and seal a 7-6 victory!

7-6 victory in the final

Overall, it was a fantastic ending to a remarkable week which had plenty of memorable moments both on and off the table.

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