Mixed fortunes in the pool for Lancaster

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If you weren’t spending your Roses Saturday evening at the darts, you were in Derwent bar to watch the pool. Although not quite as big a turnout, they certainly made up for it in noise volume.

The men’s seconds of the afternoon had been nail-bitingly close. Each university has nine players, who each face their opponent for three frames. The best of three winner gains one point for the team, so there are nine points to play for overall. By the ninth game, the men’s seconds were drawing at four all, meaning it all came down to the final game.

It was between Lancaster’s Chui Sung Tai, and York’s Dave Coggan. To everyone’s great excitement, they won a frame each, meaning the fate of the entire game rested on just one final frame! Unfortunately, it was disappointment for Lancaster, as York managed to steal the victory. This frustratingly close 5-4 win gained York two points towards the Roses total.

Still to come was the women’s and men’s firsts pool. Speaking to SCAN before the match, Lancaster’s Katy Thomas was optimistic, and believed in her girls: “We’re going for the 9-0,” she said.  Josh Polding, captain of the men’s firsts informed SCAN: “Lancaster are stronger on paper, but obviously it depends on the atmosphere of the evening.” At this point, SCAN didn’t fully appreciate just how much of a role atmosphere could play. Preceding every single game, each player had to cheesily make his or her entrance while the DJ played 20 seconds of something like ‘Barbie Girl’ at ear-splitting volume, much to Polding’s disgust.

The Lancaster boys got off to a cracking start, as Sam Yip obliterated Sean Terry 2-0, with no need for a third frame. York, however, managed to win the next three games, defeating Lancaster’s Jeff Chan, John Janes and Ben Caborn, despite some extremely skillful shots. By the end of the fourth game, the score stood at 3-1 to York.

The atmosphere that Polding referred to had started to play a significant role. The York boys had begun to hurl abuse at the Lancaster players, coming up with spiteful chants and jeered maliciously. A security guard half-heartedly told them to settle down a few times, but for the most part, we just had to hope our Lancaster men had nerves of steel.

Miraculously, the Lancaster boys persevered, and Alex Smith managed an impressive win amid raucous jeering from the York support.  Captain Polding unfortunately lost, leaving the score 4-2. At this point, the next game could secure the win for York.

But Lancaster held them off. The next two games were skilfully won by our Jamie Rogers and Tom Howell. The boys put up a gallant fight against all odds, but was it enough to secure the overall win?

Alas, the pressure was too great, and Jamie Lewis lost his game, handing the overall win and the four points towards Roses to York. I would say they deserved the win, but frankly, they absolutely did not. However, the Lancaster boys even had the decency to clap them at the end. Hats off to them for actually managing to grow up.

The girls kicked off with Lancaster’s Molly Chambers against York’s Alex Benjamin. Ever cool and collected, Chambers managed an easy 2-1 win, one of which left her opponent with still three balls on the table. Having spent her third year as Furness captain, she told SCAN “I’m happy to end my Lancaster pool career on a high.”

Next was Lancaster’s Vicky Hives and York’s Penny Lawn. The first frame was a close win for Hives, but after that, she fought down her nerves and hit her stride, and absolutely smashed it, in true ‘Victorious’ style. Another easy point for Lancaster, leaving it 2-0.

Unfortunately York stole the third game, beating Lancaster’s Gemma Pollock although it was very close. Next came women’s captain Katy Thomas, who beat York’s Nicole Leicester, winning the first two frames and boosting the women’s score to a promising 3-1 to Lancaster.

Lancaster’s Charlotte Baker secured a fourth point for the Lancaster women, making it 4-1. It could be all over for York in the next game!

York’s captain stepped up to the challenge, playing Lancaster’s April Zhou for the winning point. Zhou skilfully doubled the black into a middle pocket, and the Lancaster support erupted. Everyone was on their feet cheering for a good five minutes! The Lancaster girls had already won the four points towards the Roses total!

However, they continued to play anyway, finishing on an impressive 7-2, as Rebecca Wilson and Hayat Kara won their games, and Filson Tarsey unfortunately lost. A fantastic result for the Lancaster girls, and a seemingly effortless success.

Women’s captain Katy Thomas is so proud of her girls: “Every single person put so much time and effort into practising to make sure we got the right result.”

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