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.