Reigning Ultimate Pool Pairs Cup Champions Shaun Chipperfield & Karl Sutton remain on course to defend the title after they survived a thrilling finish in the opening last 16 group to reach Finals Night in December.
The title holders began the evening in Newcastle-under-Lyme with a 4-0 victory over local heroes Jimmy Croxton & Liam White, before Josh Kane & Jon McAllister scored a 3-1 victory over last year’s runners-up Ronan McCarthy & Declan Brennan.
Northern Irish duo McCarthy & Brennan stayed out in the arena to oust Croxton & White 3-2 and pick up maximum points – McCarthy clearing up in frame five with just three seconds remaining.
In a pivotal fourth fixture of the night between the two opening session winners, Chipperfield & Sutton recorded a scotch doubles break clearance and one each individually as they turned on the style to defeat Kane & McAllister 4-1 and take control at the top of the table.
However, going into the final session, there were still a few permutations possible, one of which was a three-way 6-red shootout – which would come to fruition.
Kane & McAllister moved to four points with a 3-1 win over the already eliminated Croxton & White, which meant all eyes were on the last game.
In one of the highest standard matches you’re likely to see in this format, Chipperfield & Sutton – who had the safety net of the draw to qualify automatically – got off to a blistering start with a reverse clearance (scotch) and a break clearance (Sutton) to go 2-0 ahead of McCarthy & Brennan in a repeat of last year’s final.
However, they were soon removed from that easy street as McCarthy & Brennan launched a faultless comeback with a break clearance (McCarthy) - reverse clearance (scotch) - break clearance (Brennan) three-frame burst to move in front 3-2 - a lead they held on to. That meant three sides finished on four points each, and a triangular tiebreaker was required to determine the qualifying team.
Perhaps unorthodox, lag winners Kane & McAllister elected to go first. They had a good start, but a disastrous end, eventually conceding after several missed pots.
There was a slight sense of déjà vu, as Chipperfield & Sutton won the title via a 6-red shootout against their remaining opponents in the tournament’s inaugural edition. And just like last January, they set a target, recovering somewhat from an awful start to register a below par time of 30.08 seconds.
McCarthy & Brennan went into the response as warm favourites, but misjudged the final part of their effort which saw Brennan pot the final red after the buzzer had gone.
Chipperfield & Sutton – who have now won three out of three shootouts in this competition – book their spot for Finals Night which takes place on Monday 19th December.