Australia’s Steve Mifsud won the Oceania Snooker Championship for a third time this weekend, some 21 years after he first claimed the title.
A field of nearly 70 entries, with representation from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, travelled to the Mounties Club in Sydney for the most prestigious title the Oceania Billiards and Snooker Federation (OBSF) has to offer. Players were initially split into round robin groups with the top two from each advancing to the knockouts.
Mifsud, who also lifted the trophy in 2014, began his bid by qualifying second from his group. During the knockouts the 46-year-old eliminated former winner and fellow ex-professional Ben Judge (3-1), Ben Foster (4-1), Cale Barrett (4-1) and then ousted number two seed Alan McCarthy (5-4) via a deciding frame.
Awaiting Mifsud was recent main tour professional Kurt Dunham in what would be an all-Victorian final. Dunham was returning to the tournament having secured promotion to the sport’s top tier courtesy of winning it in 2016 at this same venue. The 27-year-old qualified as the number one seed after topping his group without losing a frame. He then continued his relentless assault on the championship in the knockouts, culminating in a 5-2 semi-final victory over former winner Joe Minici.
Mifsud started the final well taking a 2-0 lead, but Dunham recovered to level up going into the mid-session interval. The following two frames were shared, but it was the current and record equalling eight-time Australian national champion Mifsud who was stronger in the closing stages, coming through a 6-4 victor.
As a member of the World Snooker Federation, the OBSF will nominate Mifsud as their candidate for a two-year professional tour card, although it is unclear whether the Australian will accept the offer in any capacity. Mifsud also has the opportunity to compete in the Betfred World Professional Championship qualifiers that take place at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield next month.
Whilst Dunham will be disappointed at losing the final, he can console himself with the Oceania 6-Red Championship he won at the start of the week. Dropping just five frames throughout the entire competition, Dunham defeated Roger Farebrother 5-0 in the final.
Australia’s Megan Fullerton went one better on her performance 12 months ago by winning the Oceania Women’s Snooker Championship for the first time.
Fullerton qualified second from her round robin group after winning four out of five matches. In the subsequent knockout phase she eliminated Kylie Bellinger, 3-0, and then inflicted revenge by dethroning defending champion Carlie Tait, 3-2.
Her opponent in the final was experienced former winner Theresa Whitten (Australia), who saw off Judy Dangerfield and Annette Clifford in the last eight and four respectively.
There was never more than a frame’s difference between the finalists, but it was Fullerton who eventually came through via a seventh and deciding frame. The New South Wales representative earlier in the competition also made the highest break of 59.
Results – from the quarter-finals onwards
Kurt Dunham 4-0 James Mifsud
John Wims 2-4 Joe Minici
Cale Barrett 1-4 Steve Mifsud
Daniel Haenga 2-4 Alan McCarthy
Dunham 5-2 Minici
Mifsud 5-4 McCarthy
Dunham 4- 6 Mifsud
Highest Break Steve Mifsud (130)