REIGNING champion John Hunter, pictured, returned to winning ways thanks to a “door- die clearance” on the Cuestars South of England Seniors (40+) Snooker Tour.
The 47-year-old, who plays at Salisbury Snooker Club, avoided a third final defeat this season in the fourth leg at Fareham Snooker Club.
After finishing runner-up in the first two events and surprising failing to qualify from the group stages on home tables at Salisbury Snooker Club last month, Hunter admitted he was “relieved” to edge past Neil Herd 2-1.
“I was very lucky to win the final,” he admitted. “Neil played better than me.”
“After riding my luck, I managed a do-or-die clearance from the last red to the pink to win the decider. I was very relieved as I wouldn’t have liked to have lost three finals in a row.”
Rankings leader Wayne Muddiman (Chandlers Ford Central Club) was beaten 2-0 by Herd (Player’s, Westbury) in the last four and, with three legs to play, has a tenpoint cushion over secondplaced Hunter, who is chasing a hat-trick of titles.
Salisbury runner-up Trevor Thorn (Basingstoke Conservative Club), a quarter- final casualty in Fareham, is third ahead of Martin Wallace (Colours, Reading), who was knocked out 2-0 by Hunter in the semi-finals.
Steve Tonks (Ashlett Club) compiled a 60 break in the group stages in his first outing of the season.
And Nick Miles (Ashlett Club) and Dharmendra Patel (Crucible, Newbury) were foiled in their bids to qualify for the knockout for the first time in a three-way play-off in Group D that was won by Mike Thatcher (Shirley Conservative Club).
The fifth leg of seven is at Jesters Snooker Hall, Swindon on Sunday, February 16.
Quarter-finals (£10): Hunter beat Thatcher 2-0, Wallace beat Carroll 2-1, Muddiman beat Ashton 2-0, Herd beat Thorn 2-1; Semi-finals (£20): Hunter beat Wallace 2-0, Herd beat Muddiman 2-0; Final (£60/£30): Hunter beat Herd 2- 1.