European Championship 2006

15-17 September 2006, Jersey

Tony le Moignan won the European Championship for the first time on Sunday 17 September, beating Stephen Mulliner 3-1 in an absorbing final.  The first two games were each won on the 5th turn, Stephen started in game 3 turn 3 but was hampered after hoop 1, from which Tony finished in three turns, his triple collapsing at penult and peg.  Game four saw Stephen hit his first shot in five attempts, after Tony was round in turn 5, and laying the tea-lady sextuple leave with no POPs.  Tony's 35-yard diagonal hit led to a solid TP, the start assisted by the other ball being at his hoop.

Lawns were easy after heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday prior to the Championship.  Conditions were mainly dry, cool, though damp during the fourth game of the final.  Tony had come through his block error-free with three TPs, the fourth game against Gerard Healy being notable for its quality, Tony round in turn 3, Gerard TPO in turn 4, Tony finished in turn 5.  Tony won an easy first-round single-game match, and came up against me in the quarter-finals.  I "won" the match, was best-of-three, two errors each, seven peels to me, three to him, one game to me, two to him!  The first game he missed hoop 1 on the backward ball, and I went round, putting my 6-pioneer too deep, so wanting the second ball from 5 up near 4-back to push across to 1-back coming to the pioneer, after an early pioneer for 2-back.  However, not only was it the 4-back ball, but the blighter gently rolled through the hoop.  My error was not to complete the TPO after all three peels because a poor split-approach left a 45-degree angle to attempt rover, with the peelee through but not clear.  Tony finished the straightforward all-round break.  Second game, he missed (his second error) and I completed a TP.  Third game, I clanged hoop 4 badly (my second error) after achieving the 4-back peel after 3 on a standard triple, and Tony punished this with his own TP.  His semi-final against Samir Patel was almost error-free.  So only Stephen and I got a game off him!

Stephen's run to his umpteenth final had also been error-free (virtually), including a double TPO against Cliff Jones in the semi-final, so the final looked like being a classic, and it nearly was.  Stephen has won the Championship three years in a row three times, so this is the third time he has failed to make it four consecutive (the previous times he has lost two years before winning the next three again).  Samir beat Cliff 2-1 in the third-place play-off, and Sarah Burrow beat Phil Cordingley 26TP sixth turn in the Plate final (Gerard Healy and I did not take part in the Plate).

It should be noted by the SCA that there were several wild cards allocated, including one after a very late withdrawal.  When we put out invitations to apply to be selected, we should also emphasise that wild cards are often available, and the standard for taking those up is not as great as for the main representative.  This year Wales had two, Isle of Man three, Jersey three and England three (including last year's winner).  I was seeded five.  The top eight were all minus players, no. 9 was about 3, and the third Isle of Man player was probably about 18.

Bruce Rannie