Semi-finals day, the best-of-five games for the Wimbledon Cup [the main event], and one game for the City of Bunbury Plate [the tournament for those knocked out before the quarter-finals]. The crowd gathered early to see Stephen Mulliner (England) play Shane Davis (New Zealand), and David Maugham (England) play Robert Fulford (England).
The Plate games started later in the morning, with Helene Thurston (Australia) playing the young Jaques Fournier (USA), and Bruce Fleming (Australia) playing Mik Mehas (USA).
Thurston made the first break. Fournier, while taking his first ball to the peg, peeled Thurston's ball through its last three hoops intending to peg it out, leaving Thurston with one ball and he with two. The attempted peg-out missed the peg and went out, so Fournier had to leave his balls where they were. Thurston picked up her ball which was for hoop 1 and finished off the game, winning 26-0.
Fleming dominated his game against Mehas, and clinically executed a triple peel after Mehas missed the few shots Fleming allowed him. The result, 26TP-0.
In the first semi final of the Cup, Mulliner took control each time Davis broke down. Each player made mistakes and failed to run hoops, but Mulliner's experience came to the fore and the match was won in three games. Both played quickly and moved quickly around the court, so their match was over within four hours. Mulliner won 26-16, 26TP-0 and 26-9.
Fulford and Maugham have played each other often so know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Maugham is better at hitting long roquets, while Fulford has more accurate placement of balls when in play. The first game kept the audience in suspense. Fulford made 9. Maugham went to the peg, peeling Fulford's ball through three hoops, and pegged both balls out, so leaving each player with one ball, and both balls for hoop 1. It was the first time many of the audience had seen such a tactic. Maugham won, coming from behind to shoot at the peg before Fulford.
Fulford/Maugham One-ball Tactics Unfamiliar Down Under
The first game of Fulford vs Maugham kept the audience in suspence for an hour. Many had not seen a one-ball game, and may have picked up some of the tactics. Play started at 8.10 AM. I missed the opening tactics, and when I came before 9.00 Maugham was doing a TPO on Fulford's blue ball, and then, to the amazement of the audience, pegged out both balls. Maugham was banking on the fact that he is a better roqueter than Fulford.
Get out your black and red markers and move them around your diagram of a court as follows:
Fulford took contact from red near hoop 4 (after the referee had replaced it, he was so used to checking hoops when two balls were pegged out that he took his rubber mallet out, and moved the red ball thinking the game had finished), and failing to get position, sat out from hoop 1 . Black retreated. Red made hoops 1, 2, 3 and 4 without incident, while red (Maugham) ran 1, and 2, then hoop 3 with black sitting in front of hoop 5.
Red wanted to run hoop 3 hard so it could get a shot at black, but ended up level with the peg and wired, so Maugham swung long and hard, and red spun out of hoop 4 and came to rest between 4 and the corner.
Fulford turned round, roqueted red, sent it past 6 but did not get position so retreated towards the border to avoid wiring from red. Maugham went to the east border opposite hoop 5, Fulford missed a long shot at 5, Maughan shot through to the other border and missed. Fulford set up at 5, Maugham hit, rolled for 4, did not get good position, shot hard, missed and ended up near black.
Fulford roqueted, and with two balls made 5 and 6 but his takeoff for 1-back fell short, so he shot out to the border. Maugham shot for position at 4 but hit the peg(!) and it took two turns to get position at 4 and to run the hoop.
Meanwhile, black ran 1-back and sat up near 2-back, a little towards the border. After running 4, Maugham roqueted the ball at 2-back, made hoops 5, 6, and 1-back with two balls, but failed to get good position at 2-back and muffed the hoop.
Fulford roqueted, put red towards A baulk, ran the hoop firmly and had a rush to 3-back, could not get the forward rush at 3-back so took off from level with the peg but muffed the hoop. Maugham set for 2-back from past rover, Fulford set for 4-back. Maugham ran 2-back and set for 3-back. Fulford ran 4-back and set for penult.
Maugham ran 3-back hard and ended up near corner 3 with ayard shot at black; he missed, much to the amazement of the spectators as his roqueting had been so good. Fulford ran penult to A baulk with Maugham on the western border opposite the peg; he moved his ball down the border opposite rover.
Fulford hit out, ending up a yard out on A baulk from corner 1. Maugham shot for position in front of 4-back, and red sat up nicely for him. Fulford tried the same for rover but failed to get position. Another a long pause - while Maugham thought about roqueting black or going for the long hoop - he set for 4-back with a gentle stroke.
Fulford tried for the rover hoop and stayed in the jaws. Maugham ran 4-back and sat up in front of penult, knowing that the lift was no use for Fulford.
Fulford ran rover and shot out to within 3 paces of the border to the east of the peg. Maugham ran penult with such control that his ball came to rest within a yard of rover, so he ran rover almost to the border. He gave much thought as to his next move. Finally the referee came out to watch the peg - the shot missed by a whisker.
Fulford missed the peg going from east to west.
Maugham pondered - then shot to a spot several paces to the north-east of the peg. Fulford shot at Maugham's ball, and missed. Maugham pegged out, at 10.09 am.
Fulford Displays Championship Prowess in Second and Third Games
The second and third games saw Fulford perform his usual immaculate triple peels. In the second game Fulford peeled Maugham's backward ball through hoops 1 and 2, I am told, to make a triple peel harder for Maugham if he hit the lift shot. To get his second break going. Fulford rushed partner to near the eastern border opposite the peg, took off to red between hoop 4 and the corner, rushed red accurately the 40 yards from there to corner 2, and obtained a cannon shot. Red was placed behind 2 and yellow came to rest beside hoop 1, within a foot of the hoop - what precision!
Another Fulford gem occurred in the second game when he was doing his triple. Four-back was peeled after hoop 5, and blue rolled to the front of penult going to red. The position for penult was not good, so Fulford promoted red well forward, ran 6 firmly, gently roqueted red, then sent it to 2-back while getting on the rush line of blue. He roqueted blue so it sat up in front of penult, and jawsed it while taking off to yellow at 1-back. Lesser mortals would have used blue after hoop 6 and tried to position it for an attempt at the peel after 1-back. The game finished at 11.45am.
The third game was notable only for Fulford's parallel-to-the-ground sweep shot at hoop 1, when his ball did not go far enough past the hoop for him to swing his mallet. Another typical Fulford triple peel finished the game. The courts are not conducive to sextuple peels; even trying tight 2-4 leaves have their problems as it is very difficult to position balls accurately when hoops are on slight mounds.
Maugham won the 4th game. We all thought Fulford would complete his third triple, but his first ball stuck in rover with his playing ball close to it. He tried a jump shot, but it came away very steeply, hit the crossbar, and came back out near red. Maugham played yellow which was a few paces away, and for hoop 1. He triple peeled, and almost came to grief at rover. His red ball was through, but just, and he had used all the balls. Without a moment's hesitation he stepped up, and nonchantly jumped red with yellow which bounced a couple of times before coming to rest near black. He used blue to bombard red out from behind rover, then rushed it to the peg, so ensuring a fifth game.
In the fifth game Maugham was in a triple peel, had done the 4-back peel, had his partner ball at penult but blobbed hoop 6. Thank you very much, said Fulford, and finished the game and the match. The result: Fullford won 25-26TPO, 26TP-11, 26TP-9, 22-26TP, 26TP-15.
So tomorrow [Sunday] it is Mulliner vs Fulford for the Cup, and Thurston vs Fleming for the Plate.
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