WANTAGE cueman Neil Craycraft laid down a marker for next season with an emphatic victory in leg seven of the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour.
The 36-year-old, who is based at the 147 SC in Swindon, started the tournament at Salisbury Snooker Club as he finished – by defeating champion-elect Matt Wilson.
Craycraft overcame Wilson, from High Wycombe, 2-1 in the group stages and 3-1 in the final.
Despite there being one tournament to play, Wilson can now not be caught.
Craycraft, one of the pre-season favourites, pocketed £100 for his first win of the series. He climbed above Ryan Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough), who he beat 3-0 in the semi-finals, into second place.
Wilson rounded off a 3-0 quarter-final win over Mark McLean (Churchills, Eastleigh) with a 100 – and then saw off former Cuestars Under-21 champion Alex Dunkley (Stubbington SC) 3-1 in the last-four.
Group B proved to be the group of death. Wilson, Craycraft and Sebastian Worrall finished with identical records. And it was Swindon’s Worrall who lost out in a six-red play-off.
The Salisbury tournament was the seventh in a series of eight across the South of England. Remaining fixture: May 16, Jesters SC, Swindon.
Neil Craycraft: 67.
Alex Dunkley: 71.
Ryan Mears: 66.
Matt Wilson: 100, 95, 76, 75, 73, 63, 53.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS:
GROUP A: 1st, Mark McLean (Churchills, Eastleigh); 2nd, Alex O’Donoghue (147 SC, Swindon); 3rd, Christian Chislett (Selsey RBL); 4th, Gary Bennett (Roath Labour Club, Cardiff); 5th, Alan Grainger (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); unplaced, Mark Green (Salisbury).
GROUP B: 1st, Neil Craycraft (147 SC, Swindon); 2nd, Matt Wilson (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); 3rd, Sebastian Worrall (Swindon SC); 4th, Trevor Thorn (Basingstoke Conservative Club); unplaced, John Smith (The Academy, Eastleigh).
GROUP C: 1st, Mike Finn (Woolston Cons Club); 2nd, Ryan Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough); 3rd, Phil Wildman (147 SC, Swindon); 4th, Lewis Miles (Jesters SC, Swindon); unplaced, Lee Roling (The Academy, Eastleigh).
GROUP D: 1st, Chris Richards (Roath Labour Club, Cardiff); 2nd, Alex Dunkley (Stubbington SC); 3rd, Will Meharg (Chandler’s Ford); 4th, James Facey (Rileys, Cardiff); 5th, Marc Harman (The Royal Surrey Poker & Snooker Club); 6th, Alan Childs (Salisbury SC).
QUARTER-FINALS (eight points, £10): Wilson beat McLean 3-0, Dunkley beat Finn 3-1, Craycraft beat O’Donoghue 3-0, Mears beat Richards 3-1.
SEMI-FINALS (12 points, £25): Wilson beat Dunkley 3-1, Craycraft beat Mears 3-0.
FINAL (25/18 points, £100/£50): Craycraft beat Wilson 3-1.
Picture by Kevin Legg