ROB Weale came close to dethroning the eventual champion in a close-run semi-final at the Co-operative Funeralcare World Matchplay championship in Sheffield, writes Richard Prime.

After winning his quarter-final tie against Scotland's Paul Foster 10-5, 10-5, Hereford-shire's Weale was paired with England's Greg Harlow for a last-four clash.

Harlow was always likely to prove tough opposition after winning the title for the previous three years at the Sheffield venue when it was known as the International Open.

But Weale, a previous runner-up to Harlow at the event, ran him all the way before going down 6-5, 5-5.

"There was not a lot in it after two sets of nine ends each," said Weale. "I thought I was a bit unlucky not to get at least a tie-break.

"But Greg is on a real winning streak at this venue."

Harlow went on to beat Mervyn King 10-8, 4-10, 2-0 in the final.

The world matchplay is unusual in that it is an indoor competition played in the heart of the outdoor season but Weale will revert to outdoor competition this weekend when he travels to Edinburgh to represent Wales in the Home International Series.

And the Clehonger-based player will be hoping for a better result than last season when his country picked up the wooden spoon.

"It was a very close tournament last year," said Weale. "We played Ireland in the final match and had we won then we would have won the competition. But, as it was, Ireland won the match and took the title and left us with the wooden spoon."

Weale is also involved in national singles and pairs competitions and in both events is just a couple of victories away from getting through to the Welsh national finals.