BOURNEMOUTH snooker ace Bradley Cowdroy survived a testing time to clinch his second winner’s trophy of the season on a regional under-21 circuit.
The 15-year-old returned to winning ways following his mock GCSEs in the fourth leg of the Cuestars South of England Gold Tour.
And the first-leg winner now leads the rankings after a 2-0 victory over Connor Benzey (Eastleigh) in the final at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon.
Cowdroy, known as ‘The Warrior’, insisted that winning snooker matches is nothing compared to the “hell” of taking exams.
The talented left-hander said: “Today was all about enjoying getting back into competition.
“During the last few weeks, I’ve been doing my mock exams for my GCSE year at school. It was hell, to be honest.
“The focus has been off snooker. I’ve not had much practice recently and so I didn’t really expect much from myself today.
“Playing snooker is stressful at the best of times but it’s nothing compared to your exams at school.”
Cowdroy won his first two group-stage matches in the event sponsored by the home club.
But he was then beaten by English Under-14 Champion Olly Gibbs (Gosport) and had to win a “nightmare, tight and tactical” match against Ryan Hughes (Chandler’s Ford) to qualify in second place.
“There’s definitely more pressure in the group stages, which are a dogfight,” he said. “The standard of everyone is so good.”
And he congratulated his Greenbaize clubmate David O’Callaghan, who won the Silver Tour final to extend his rankings lead.
“We were practising together (the previous day) and it was absolutely dreadful,” he added.
“Today was a present surprise for both of us. It was a good day for Greenbaize.”
Meanwhile, Adam Stacey, who beat Mickey Joyce (Basingstoke) in a six-reds play-off for the second of the two best third-place positions, was denied a first ever appearance in a final.
The Londoner took the first frame of a 2-1 last-four defeat by Benzey but lost a highly-tactical decider.
Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford), in his first semi-final of the season, was beaten 2-1 by Cowdroy.
Anthony Rice (Fordingbridge), who won the previous two legs to lead the rankings, dropped to second place after finishing bottom of his five-man group but he did knock in the day’s highest break of 66.
The fifth leg of ten is at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, on Sunday, January 7.
Anthony Rice: 66, 41.
Oliver Sykes: 61.
Aidan Murphy: 54.
Charlie Pringle: 48.
Connor Benzey: 41.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Jamie Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 3rd, Mickey Joyce (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Steven Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Connor Benzey (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Adam Stacey (Legends, Leytonstone); 4th, Charlie Pringle (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Evan Plummer (Frames, Coulsdon).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Olly Gibbs (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Aidan Murphy (Fishponds Cons Club, Bristol); 4th, Ryan Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Arron Smith (Selsey RBL, Chichester).
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Stacey 2-1 O Sykes, Benzey 2-0 Murphy, D Sykes 2-1 Gibbs, Cowdroy 2-0 Wilson.
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Benzey 2-1 Stacey, Cowdroy 2-1 D Sykes.
FINAL (£75/£37.50, 25/18 points): Cowdroy 2-0 Benzey.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)