MIKE Finn’s slice of luck to secure his second successive regional tournament win went off the scale on the fluke-ometer.
Southampton’s six-time Town champion produced the shot of the season to halt Billy Castle’s resurgence in the final of the fifth leg of the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour.
Breaks of 37, 36 and 68 had given Finn a 2-0 lead at Fareham Snooker Club. Castle pulled one back and looked to have his opponent in trouble by laying a snooker behind the pink on the brown that was near a middle pocket.
Attempting a one-cushion escape, Finn missed but the cue-ball went round three cushions, came back to gently nudge the brown into the pocket and finished perfect on the blue.
Almost apologetically, the 31-year-old from Eastleigh knocked in blue and pink for a 3-1 victory.
Finn, who also beat Castle in last month’s final in Salisbury, moved to within eight points of his Churchills teammate in the race for the Q School place.
After collecting £180 prize money, he said: “I think the rankings will go down to the last event. It’s going to be fun competing knowing there is a decent prize at the end of it.
“It's easy when you are scoring heavy but I’ve struggled a bit lately so I’m using my experience more. And it’s worked in the last two events.
“It’s very much ‘game on’ in terms of the rankings. If I can get some form back and combine it with applying myself, there is no reason why I can’t win more events before the end of the season. And if I produce more world class flukes like the four-cushion slow roll to the middle from a snookered position then I’m going to take some stopping!”
Reading-based rankings leader Castle, 24, who defeated Wayne Townsend (Northolt) 3-1 in the last-four, has now lost three successive finals since winning the second leg at Chandler’s Ford.
Finn overcame leg-one winner Seb Worrall (Swindon) 3-0 in the second semi of the event.
The 30-strong field returned 34 breaks of 50 or more. Christian Chislett (Basingstoke) chalked up the highest of 107 against 14-year-old Ryan Hughes (Chandler’s Ford) in the group stages.
Aldershot hotshot Ryan Mears added a 100 against Matt Stadius (Chichester) to secure second place in his group.
Stadius then beat Lewis Miles (Swindon) in a play-off to secure the fourth best-third-place qualifying slots.
Two under-15s qualified for the knockout. Mickey Joyce, 13, went out 2-0 to Townsend, last season’s English Amateur Championship finalist, and Bradley Cowdroy, 14, lost 2-1 to two-time rankings champion Matt Ford (Bracknell).
The sixth leg of eight is at The Crucible Sports & Social Club, Newbury, on Sunday, February 12.
Christian Chislett: 107, 63, 56, 53, 53.
Ryan Mears: 100, 56.
Wayne Townsend: 96, 80, 68, 64, 58, 57, 55.
Billy Castle: 78, 77, 58, 55, 54, 50.
Mike Finn: 72, 69, 68, 68, 68, 56.
Matt Ford: 61.
Seb Worrall: 69.
Mike Talmondt: 78.
Mickey Joyce: 64.
Bradley Cowdroy: 56.
Jordan Winbourne: 55.
Grant Mason: 53.
Simon Munday: 52.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Wayne Townsend (Northolt); 2nd, Mike Finn (Churchills, Eastleigh); 3rd, Lewis Miles (Jesters, Swindon); 4th, Mike Trigg (Chandler’s Ford SC); 5th, David Rice (Salisbury SC).
GROUP B: 1st, Grant Mason (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 2nd, Richard Clark (Jesters, Swindon); 3rd, Jake Baker (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 4th, James Budd (Fareham SC); 5th, Andrew Mayell (Player’s, Westbury).
GROUP C: 1st, Billy Castle (Crucible, Newbury); 2nd, Mike Talmondt (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 3rd, Simon Munday (Bedhampton); 4th, Connor Benzey (Chandler’s Ford SC); 5th, Brett Wallace (Fareham SC).
GROUP D: 1st, Christian Chislett (Selsey RBL, Chichester); 2nd, Matt Ford (Sunninghill Comrades Club); 3rd, Ryan Hughes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, John Reeves (Bournemouth); 5th, Martin Wallace (Crowthorne RBL).
GROUP E: 1st, Jordan Winbourne (Chandler’s Ford SC); 2nd, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Mickey Joyce (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Mark Wells (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 5th, Olly Gibbs (Chandler’s Ford SC).
GROUP F: 1st, Seb Worrall (Jesters, Swindon); 2nd, Ryan Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough); 3rd, Matthew Stadius (Selsey RBL, Chichester); 4th, Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 5th, Rikki Moore (Greenbaize, Bournemouth).
LAST-16: Townsend 2 Joyce 0, Stadius 2 Mason 0, Castle 2 Mears 0, Ford 2 Cowdroy 1, Clark 2 Talmondt 0, Finn 2 Chislett 0, Munday 2 Winbourne 0, Worrall 2 Baker 0.
QUARTER-FINALS (24 points): Townsend 3 Stadius 0, Castle 3 Ford 0, Finn 3 Clark 0, Worrall 3 Munday 2.
SEMI-FINALS (£25, 30 points): Castle 3 Townsend 1, Finn 3 Worrall 0.
FINAL (£180/£70 50/36 points): Finn 3 Castle 1.