National finals heartache for Sun Valley yet again

NATIONAL Inter-League pool finals
NATIONAL Inter-League pool finals

For an agonising fifth season in six, the Nottinghamshire-based Sun Valley team came within a whisker of glory at the national inter-league pool finals in Great Yarmouth.

Sun Valley, who are littered with players from the Dispatch district, were beaten finalists in 2012 and 2013 and losing semi-finalists in 2011 and 2014, so they had high hopes of finally cracking it this time round.

They justified their reputation as one of the best inter-league teams in the country, knocking out the team ranked one in the tournament and then defeating previous champions, TT Players, in the semi-finals.

But just when it looked as if they would get over the line and lift the prestigious trophy, they fell at the final hurdle yet again, this time losing 10-7 to Frames Reigate, of Surrey, in the final.

Earlier in the weekend, Sun Valley had made a flying start to the competition, which was held at the seaside resort’s Vauxhall Holiday Park.

In the group stages, they battered Brighton B 10-0 and slammed Southport A 10-3, enabling them to progress with ease to the first knockout round, which comprised 64 teams.

Fellow local side The Club were dismissed 10-5 at that stage, giving them a tie in the last 32 the following morning when they defeated Sandwell Sundays, of the West Midlands, 10-5.

Straight after this tie, Sun Valley came through another test when inflicting a 10-6 defeat on Hammersmith A, of London, which put them through to the quarter-finals against Cannock Chase, of Staffordshire. The clash was a classic and finished all-square at 9-9, necessitating a three-frame play-off. Lee Pickard lost the opener after his opponent produced an excellent clearance, but Lee Howitt levelled and then the very experienced Pete Wright booked the team’s semi-final ticket.

TT Players were beaten 10-8 in a display that featured Neil Kelley’s very best form, and Sun Valley went on to start the final really well, easing to the lead. But then a run of three quick frames by Frames Reigate turned the tie and led to familiar heartache for the locals.

Meanwhile, in the Hucknall Wednesday Pool League, the Knockout Cup has been won by Station Hotel B, who whitewashed Yew Tree 8-0 over two legs.

The Mellors Bicknell Shield, which is played for by teams beaten in the first round of the Knockout Cup, was won by Chequers, who defeated Station Hotel A 8-4 in the final, also played over two legs. They never looked back after taking the opening leg 5-2.