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Wharne Completes Finals Night Quartet

Rob Wharne

The four-player lineup for next week’s Finals Night in the 2021 Apply Mortgages Ultimate Pool Masters is now set after Rob Wharne emerged from a bumper day of action in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Fans were treated to a double-header at the Players Pool and Snooker Lounge on Monday with the previously postponed Group 15 being followed by the remaining last 16/quarter-final group in phase two of the £20,000 competition.

Incredible Croxton Wins Group 15

There have been some remarkable performances during this tournament, but perhaps none more so than Jimmy Croxton’s memorable efforts in coming through Group 15 during the afternoon session.

The two-time professional event winner shocked reigning six-time world champion Michael Hill 8-4 in the opening tie of the day where he produced four break clearances and a reverse clearance.

After six frames the duo were tied but local star Croxton conjured up a four-frame burst and later crossed the line to dump out arguably the greatest player of all-time at the first hurdle.

In the group final, Croxton faced 2019 Moroccan national champion Oussama Masskini who had earlier edged out John Sullivan 6-5 with effectively just seconds to go on the match-clock.

“The Joker” was once again at his clinical best, ruthlessly dispatching his opponent 8-0 in a display that featured three reverse clearances, two break clearances and a golden break.

Statistically, Croxton registered the most impressive numbers from the opening phase of the event with an 80% legal pot success rate off his break and seven break clearances (if you include the golden break) from just 10 attempts.

Only a few days before, Croxton wasn’t even in the event; he got a late call-up to replace Shaun Chipperfield who had to withdraw due to Covid. It was full circle for Croxton, who himself had to initially pull out from Group 16 due to a Covid issue, too.

A Semi-Final Wharne-ing

Following a brief recess in between sessions, the final phase two group would be decided and it was Wharne – Croxton’s replacement in the aforementioned Group 16 – who was left standing at the end of the night.

Action began with Arfan Dad continuing his brilliant recent form as he eliminated the current European and world blackball champion Scott Gillespie 7-3.

Dad struggled with his break but still managed victory in Group 13 a few weeks ago, but he had few such concerns here, putting on a near perfect performance which included three break clearances and three reverse clearances.

On the table next were friends and practice partners Croxton and Wharne. An edgy affair at times, Croxton was unable to reproduce the same heroics he had shown a few hours previously, whilst Wharne struggled to settle.

Croxton held 2-0 and 4-2 advantages, but the 2017 Supreme Masters champion Wharne managed to stay in touch, claiming three of the next four frames (including a break clearance in frame seven) for 5-5 and to force a 6 reds shootout.

After winning the lag, Wharne elected to go second and – despite missing a ball during his run – bettered his opponent’s time of 29.53 with an effort of 27.06.

Going into the subsequent quarter-final, both players had contrasting form guides, but Wharne was able to dramatically up his game, coming back from 3-1 down and crafting four break clearances and a reverse clearance as he defeated Dad 7-4. Dad himself had a break clearance, reverse clearance and a golden break.

Like his fellow semi-finalists Phil Harrison, Josh Kane and Simon Fitzsimmons, Wharne is now two more wins away from the title and a £10,000 payday; “Whacker” will face “The Bouncer” in the last four next week.

Wharne Wins Ultimate Pool Masters Group 16

Rob Wharne

Rob Wharne became the penultimate player to book their place in the last 16 of the 2021 Apply Mortgages Ultimate Pool Masters after winning Group 16 of the event on Monday night in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Following a break in the schedule due to a Covid-19 issue last week, the tournament resumed at the Players Pool and Snooker Lounge with a quartet of cueists from four different nations.

Englishman Wharne opened up the evening with an entertaining and high-quality 8-5 victory over Ireland’s Shaun Sharkey.

The former Supreme Masters winner went 2-0 ahead, but a fluked black in the third frame signaled the start of a four-frame winning streak for 2019 European Championship runner-up Sharkey – a run that included a break dish followed by a reverse dish.

However, momentum shifted again as Wharne claimed six of the next seven frames (including a break dish and two reverse dishes) to record an 8-5 success.

The second tie of the night was the Irish Sea versus the Mediterranean Sea as the Isle of Man’s John Kennish faced Malta’s Lydan Debono.

Current national champion Debono started very strong, producing a break dish and a reverse as he established a 3-0 lead. However, opportunities were spurned by him in frame four and four-time Isle of Man Snooker Championship winner Kennish capitalised to get a foothold.

Kennish continued to grow in confidence and mounted a comeback, chalking up five frames in seven in total to level the scores at 5-5. He even had the chance to win the match outright with a clearance in frame 11, but lost track of the match clock and agonisingly ran just short of time.

It meant that a victor had to be decided via a 6-reds shootout. Whilst Kennish may have misjudged his timing earlier, he registered an impressive score of 29.94 seconds going first, a target that Debono narrowly missed out on bettering when he missed the final ball during his reply.


Following his heroics, Manxman Kennish had little time to recover for his final with Wharne a few minutes later, and it didn’t help that his opponent constructed back-to-back break dishes on his way to racing into a dominating 5-0 advantage.

Kennish got on the board, though, with frame six and briefly threatened another recovery when he reduced his arrears again to 2-5.

However, four-times world team championship winner Wharne soon closed that door and the match as he strung together the next three frames for an 8-2 success and set up a date with the to-be-confirmed Group 15 winner in August.

Next week sees the start of the last 16 and quarter-finals with a mouthwatering lineup of Jordan Shepherd, Chris Melling, Phil Harrison and Rob Chilton.

Group 16 Results
Shaun Sharkey 5-8 Rob Wharne
Break Dishes: Sharkey 2, Wharne 1
Reverse Dishes: Sharkey 1, Wharne 3

John Kennish 5-5 Lydan Debono – Kennish won via a 6-reds shootout
Break Dishes: Kennish 0, Debono 1
Reverse Dishes: Kennish 0, Debono 1

Wharne 8-2 Kennish
Break Dishes: Wharne 2, Kennish 0
Reverse Dishes: Wharne 0, Kennish 0

Please note – Last week’s Group 15 which was postponed due to Covid will be rescheduled to another date. The date of this will be published shortly.