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The venue is known for some big hits of fish but no one knew if the weather and low water levels were going to have an effect. At the draw the first three choices went to pegs that had done well in a match a few weeks ago, so with sun cream on the pairs headed off.
The fish started started being caught as soon as the 12 o’clock horn sounded, with AJ Collier and Harry Pardoe on the point swim, 4, and opposite them in peg 10 Jack Lamb and Brian Byford getting off to a flyer. To quote AJ at 1pm “its carnage here!”
As the afternoon progressed these two pairs started to pull away a bit from the chasing pack but kept working hard as they knew that at any time the fish could move off them.
By 9pm on the first night the hard work was paying off as these two pairs pulled further away with Jack and Brian in 10 putting 50lb between them and AJ and Harry.
With not large numbers of fish coming out to other pairs it was set up for a big tussle for that third qualification spot and by Saturday morning all pairs had caught with only 30lb separating 3rd and 8th.
Saturday evening saw a massive effort from Brian and Jack in 10 putting 120lb of fish on the bank in a few hours giving them what would be an unassailable lead. AJ and Harry in 4 also secured their second spot as they eased further away from the pack.
The last 18hrs of the match was all about the battle for third. As we headed into the second night Becky and Sean Sharman in peg 2 held the spot, 3lbs ahead of Nick Singleton and Danny Clarke in Peg 1 and only 6lbs ahead of Ryan Ward and Mark Macghee in peg 9.
By the morning Nick and Danny had pushed into third with Ryan and Mark trying to chase them down. In peg 12, the fish had finally shown up for Dave Black and Andrew Grant who had got themselves right into the mix in 5th only 20lb behind 3rd.
Nick and Danny had a very nervous last 4hrs as they saw all three of the chasers catching fish and at the final hooter no one knew if they had hung on as fish were being weighed at both pegs 9 and 12.
But they made it by 5lb! With Dave Black and Andrew Grant in 12 coming oh so close.
With less than 20lb (2 average fish at Willows) between 3rd and 7th it made for a fantastic match.