POOL: Royal British Legion seal hard-fought title

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THE CAPTIVATING race for the HUCKNALL EPA POOL LEAGUE has ended with Royal British Legion A passing the winning post first.

And that means they have completed the double after also landing the league’s Knockout Cup.

A thrilling season finally boiled down to a duel between Legion A and Empire A.

But a shock defeat for Empire A in their penultimate match gifted the initiative to their rivals, which they seized with both hands in the final round of fixtures.

They defeated Green Dragon 6-2 and lifted the championship trophy by two clear points with a fine record of 23 wins from 27 matches, a leg-difference of plus-88 and only three defeats.

Rich Devine set them on their way, beating Dragon dangerman Dave Holmes, and then came wins for Tim McShane and the pairing of Nigel Burton and Gaz Woodfield as Legion A surged into a 3-0 lead.

Martin Bremner lost the next leg but Nidge Orton took the game by the scruff of the neck with victories on singles and pairs (alongside Bremner) before a seventh-leg success too for Ryan Orton.

Meanwhile second-placed Empire A were being held to a 4-4 draw at home to last season’s champions, Spot-On Low-C.

They led 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 in the hands of Steve Wood, the pairing of Wood and Mick Fowkes, Brian Woodward and Dave Wainwright. But each time, resolute Low-C hit back — courtesy of Dean Britton, Simon Thompson, the pairing of Britton and Ryan Norris and, on the final leg, Simon Moralee.

The result sealed third place for Low-C, two points in front of Empire Muppets, who wrapped up a fine debut season in the league with an inauspicious no-show for an away match at Bestwood Village Social Club, who duly claimed an 8-0 walkover.

Behind the Muppets, there is a gap of nine points to the rest of the league, which is headed by Station Hotel (Hucknall) B and Royal British Legion B, both of whom chalked up wins on the last night of the campaign.

Station B licked Chequers Inn B 6-2 thanks to successes by Paul Heath, Paul Hibbard, Paddy McShane, Jamie Henson and the pairings of Ian Wikeley and Alan Foster and Hibbard and McShane.

Legion B triumphed 5-3 at Harrier in the hands of Wayne Cartledge, Roy Bicker, John Toulson, Ashley Griffiths and the pairing of Dean Dymock and Malc Grocock.

The week’s remaining fixture resulted in a 5-3 victory for Liberal Club, who battled back from 3-2 down at home to Sherwood Ranger, chiefly because their opponents could not fulfil the last two legs. Liberal’s victors were Martin Caulton, Mark Sheppard, Dave Bridges, Bill Clark and Steve Clark.

A DRAMATIC finish to the league’s individual rankings table saw Tim McShane, of title-winners Legion A, crowned champion.

McShane’s 23rd win from 27 matches was enough to lift him to 169 points and pip Empire duo Steve Wood (164) and long-time leader Geoff Taylor (162).

Another Legion A player, Nigel Burton, finished fourth with 159 points, followed by Dean Britton (Spot-On Low-C) on 152.

Next came Martin Bremner (Legion A) with 149, followed by two players on 142 points — Shane Wood (Chequers B) and Dean Dymock (Legion B).