Arfan Dad, Gareth Hibbott, Emma Cunningham and Sophie Gibbs-Nicholls all won titles during an epic World Rules Pool Tour weekend in Daventry that saw all four finals go to deciding frame finishes.
Over 150 players entered the main event at the Mercure Hotel and it was the in-form Dad who collected the biggest accolade of his 8-ball career and a £5,000 payday.
Dad has been one of the sport’s best and most consistent performers over the past couple of months and he was rewarded with a maiden WRPT title after a string of fantastic displays.
‘The Daddy’ had a very tough start to his campaign as he defeated former World Masters winner Neil Raybone 7-2 before eliminating Daniel Bailey 7-2, Martin Wood 7-2, Matt Peel 7-4, Connor Treacy 7-6 and then another former World Masters champion in the form of Callum Singleton 8-5 in the semi-finals.
His opponent in the final was yet another former World Masters winner – Josh Kane – who had denied reigning world blackball champion Scott Gillespie 8-5 in the last four.
We have only seen one-sided finals on the main event tour this season, but there was never more than a frame between Dad and Kane in this title match.
Amidst a scrappy start, Dad led 1-0 and 2-1 before both started to find the form that saw them reach the final. Kane took the lead for the first time at 3-2 as both players continued to trade frames on their break.
Dad appeared to be in big trouble at 7-6 down, though, but managed to claim a tactical 14th frame to force a deserving decider. Drama came in the concluding frame when Kane went in-off his break – Dad went for the clearance but misjudged position on the 8-ball and subsequently missed a very trick shot for the glory. However, Kane was unable to capitalise, instantly missing a plant to a middle pocket, and Dad composed himself to sink the black in what was a late-night thriller in front of an engrossed audience.
Hibbott Pips Chipperfield in Jason Owen Open 4
In a meeting of former world champions, Hibbott also needed to win the final two frames of the final in order to defeat Shaun Chipperfield and lift the fourth Jason Owen Open trophy of the 2021 season.
Hibbott dropped just five frames getting through to the final – he dispatched Andy Day 4-0, Neil Davey 4-1, Rich Wharton 5-1, stopped the double title bid hopes of Dad 5-1 in the last 16, Lee Howitt 5-0 and then Luke Gilbert 5-2 in the semi-finals.
Chipperfield has featured at the latter stages of several big tournaments this year already and the event two runner-up reached another final with impressive wins over Clint I’Anson and Shane Thompson in the quarter and semi-finals respectively.
It looked as if ‘Chippy’ would be taking home gold on this occasion when he led 5-4 and had an opportunity to end it in the tenth frame. However, the clearance went wrong, and up stepped Hibbott to complete a gutsy clutch finish to level for 5-5 before break clearing in the deciding frame to add yet another big title to his collection and bank £2,000.
Cunningham bounced back from her disappointment of losing a painful final last month in Blackpool by winning her first WRPT title with the 2021 Ladies Champions League Event 4.
The four-time world champion qualified from her group despite a 5-4 loss to Cat Jones. In the knockout phase she defeated Lauren Williams 5-2, Mary Cunningham 5-0 and then reigning two-discipline world champion Amy Beauchamp 5-1 in the semi-finals.
The Northern Irishwoman’s opponent in the final was a familiar one – Harriet Haynes – and a repeat of their memorable clash in event three a few weeks ago in which Cunningham missed a relatively routine 8-ball in the decider for the title.
Haynes won the first three Ladies Champions League events of the season – an incredible achievement – and she kept on course for a calendar grand slam of WRPT titles when she saw off Lynne Pinches 5-0 to reach yet another final.
Predictably, the title match was yet again a close affair, with Haynes recovering from 3-1 and 4-3 down to take the tie all the way. This time, though, there would be a different winner, as a determined Cunningham coolly produced a break and clearance to lift the trophy and pocket £750.
In Europa League Event 4 – for those that did not qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League event – Gibbs-Nicholls ousted Alexandra Cunha 5-4 in the final to take home the top prize. It was the second Europa League event in-a-row that Cunha had lost in the final.
The fifth and final WRPT weekend of the season also takes place in Daventry across the 29th-31st October.