Ogier edges out Dodd for first silverware of season
Phil Ogier (pictured) made the perfect start to the season with victory in the first open senior tournament of the season-the Senior Group. This event was open to all players and Ogier clinched the title courtesy of a four game win over Garry Dodd in the final.
The tournament witnessed some tense encounters once in the knockout stages of the competition, including two closely contested opening round matches. One such match saw third seed Joshua Butler against fourth seed Liam Robilliard. Butler finished as runner-up in his group, due to a loss to Lawrence Stacey, and this was the reason behind the two seeds clashing at such an early stage. Robilliard clinched the first end before Butler raised his level and opened up a 2-1 advantage. He was very close to claiming the win in the following end, but Robilliard dug in and nicked the end 12-10 to force the decider. Robilliard continued where he left off in the final end and Butler was unable to overturn the early lead gained by his opponent, bowing out 11-3.
The other high-quality opening round encounter came during seventh seed Alex Robinson's clash against former team-mate and ex-perienced Second Division player, Kay Chivers. Chivers had played excellently during the group stages of the competition and continued to impress when taking a tight third end 15-13 over Robinson to open up a 2-1 lead. Robinson's extra quality shone through during the remaining legs though, as he lost just seven points in the final two games. Robinson went from one five-game encounter straight into another in the quarter-finals during his match against Lawrence Stacey. Despite battling back from a 2-0 deficit to force the decider, Robinson was unable to make it back to back five-game wins as Stacey held his nerve to see the match off 11-7.
In the same half of the draw, Dodd was ruthless during his straight-game win over Jez Powell. Robilliard came up against fellow Lions player and fifth seed Paul Hainsworth in the first quarter-final from the bottom half of the draw and went down 13-11 in the fourth of a hard-fought encounter.
Despite taking the title, Ogier had to dig very deep during his route to the final, from the quarter-final stage onwards. His last-eight opponent was sixth seed Joshua Stacey, who had seen off the challenge of Mark Pipet in the previous round via a straight-game win. Ogier was never behind in the encounter having claimed the first and third ends, but Stacey was determined to press on and edged the important fourth end 13-11. The decider was another tight affair, but Ogier crucially won the big points towards the tail end enroute to taking it 11-9.
Like Robinson, Ogier went from one five-game encounter to another, during his five-game win over Hainsworth in the first semi-final. He looked in cruise control whilst leading by a game and 7-1, however a lack of concentration enabled Hainsworth to level up the match courtesy of claiming 10 consecutive points. Ogier's lead was restored after he took the third, but the outcome of the fourth almost mirrored his previous encounter with Stacey, with Hainsworth pinching it 11-9. The match looked over with Ogier leading 10-6, but Hainsworth battled hard and reduced the lead to 10-9. An opportunity arose for Hainsworth on the next point, but a missed forehand gave the win to Ogier.
Dodd, on the other hand, was up against it in his semi-final clash with Lawrence, who was coming out with some blistering shots from the back of the table, particularly off the backhand wing. Stacey took the opener 11-9 and held the lead throughout the majority of the second, but Dodd hung in and took the end 11-9. The third and fourth ends were also narrow affairs, but Dodd did just enough to see himself over the line, 11-9 again the outcome in the fourth end.
Ogier was at his consistent best throughout the final and he came through the opening two games with matching scores of 11-8. Dodd battled back and took the third, again 11-8, but Ogier had enough in the tank to close out the match in the next and pick up the title he last won during the 2011-12 season.
The next open tournament is the Whistlers Open Singles which will take place on Monday 27 October.