Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Snooker

Mark Allen hits top form but can't shake off determined John Higgins


By Ross Lawson

Mark Allen was in flying form in Sheffield's Crucible Theatre to take the early advantage after the opening session of his Betfred World Championship second-round clash.

The Antrim potter boasts a 5-3 lead in his best-of-25 clash with John Higgins heading into today's second and third sessions in a repeat of their 2009 semi-final which the Scot won.

Three hundreds strengthened Allen's advantage as he defied the form that had seen him struggle this season and puts him in a strong position to make his first quarter-final of the £1.75million showpiece event since 2011.

Four-time champion Higgins stayed afloat, however, in a session where he was generally outplayed.

Allen wasted no time getting going in the Crucible, as impressive breaks of 71 and 65 saw him take the opening frame in some style.

It was to get better soon after as Higgins was once again kept in his chair, Allen rattling in a break of exactly 100 - amassing 236 points before his Scottish opponent had even got on the board.

Higgins was soon up and running in the third frame, however, scrapping his way over the line with three mini-breaks, in some ways grateful just to have time on the table.

And Allen would have been disappointed to go into the mid-session interval all square, Higgins drawing the game back to parity with a break of 70.

The clinical edge returned to the Antrim cueman however, crashing in an effort of 102 to once again restore the lead.

Still the big breaks arrived for the world No.11, with 129 fired in without response from Higgins as the two-frame lead returned at 4-2.

You'd have struggled to believe Allen has made just one ranking quarter-final this season having watched this performance as he spurned the chance of a third century in succession when he missed the pink when on 84.

By that point he had scored more than 300 points without response, with a 98 per cent pot success rate perfectly demonstrating his domination. Higgins scrapped to a vital eighth and last frame of the session.

The winner of this tie goes on to face Kyren Wilson in the last eight. Wilson last night defeated the 2015 champion Stuart Bingham 13-10.

Ronnie O'Sullivan moved a step closer to a sixth world title yesterday.

Twenty years to the day since he produced perhaps the greatest break of all time in Sheffield, it was a clutch clearance against Shaun Murphy rather than a sustained slice of O'Sullivan magic that kept him firmly on course for another shot at the trophy.

On April 21, 1997, O'Sullivan dashed to a 147 maximum break in just five minutes and 20 seconds against Mick Price, however it was a run of just 25 that provided cheer this time for the 41-year-old Rocket.

After letting Murphy cut his arrears from 9-3 to 9-6, O'Sullivan cleared the table from green to black to move 10-6 in front overnight.

Watch the Snooker World Championship Live on Eurosport, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph