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Trump hails crowd after conquering O'Sullivan to retain NI title

 

In line: Judd Trump en route to victory over Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Waterfront
In line: Judd Trump en route to victory over Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Waterfront

By Frank Brownlow

Judd Trump and Ronnie O'Sullivan produced a 19.com Northern Ireland Open final last night that would have thrilled the late Belfast legend Alex Higgins.

Trump was defending the Alex Higgins Trophy and did so in style, winning 9-7 to pot the £70,000 top prize in a crackling Waterfront Hall atmosphere.

Trump hailed the Belfast crowd after his victory.

"The fans in Belfast are amazing - I love coming back here. We both scored heavily so I'm sure it was a good match to watch," he said. "I knew I needed to get off to a good start because otherwise Ronnie will simply steamroller you."

O'Sullivan said: "The crowd were fantastic. It's been a good day even though I lost."

It was a repeat of last season's decider and it produced exactly the same winner and scoreline.

Trump wrapped it up with a break of 84 to deny O'Sullivan the chance of taking it to a deciding frame.

After the evening's mid-session interval, Trump surged ahead with a 55 before a miss let O'Sullivan back to the table and an excellent 76 break cut the lead to just one frame, 7-6.

Trump bounced back immediately with his fourth century of the final, potting his way to a 124 clearance to move to within one frame of victory, 8-6. But O'Sullivan was far from finished and added to the lustre of a wonderful final with his second century, a 135 - and that was without bothering with the final black.

Trump had got off to a flyer in yesterday's big match, winning the first two frames with O'Sullivan only getting a total of seven points on the board.

O'Sullivan started to find his range in the third frame, delighting the big Waterfront Hall crowd with his fourth century of the £405,000 tournament, the 43-year-old firing a stunning 126 to cut the deficit to 2-1.

It was an important frame for the World No.3 to take, even at that early stage.

In the last frame before the mid-session interval, a loose break by the Rocket let the world champion in for a long red.

The 30-year-old made the most of the opportunity, knocking in a 123 break despite running out of position on several occasions and surging 3-1 ahead.

Trump retained the upper hand and led 5-2 going into the final frame of the afternoon.

It was crunch time for the five-time world champion, who hammered Joe Perry 6-1 in Saturday night's semi-final, as it would have been a long road back from four frames down.

O'Sullivan got his chance when Trump missed a red and moved on to a break of 37 with a pot on the blue that saw him scatter the reds invitingly. One more red and then in off on the blue opened the door to Trump but the World No.1 missed a red by a big margin.

O'Sullivan seized the unexpected opportunity, knocking in a break of 48 to clinch the frame and make it 5-3 ahead of the evening showdown.

Both players received a raucous Belfast welcome as they entered the arena for the concluding session.

A mistake from Trump, who had beaten John Higgins 6-3 in Saturday afternoon's first semi-final, gave O'Sullivan the first chance but the Rocket missed a straightforward pink.

The frame looked at Trump's mercy but the pressure told and he missed an easy pot.

O'Sullivan hit back with a 22 before being undone by an ambitious plant, although Trump was unable to capitalise.

O'Sullivan required no further invitation, leaving Trump needing snookers, and following a short bout of safety play wrapped up a scrappy frame to make it 5-4.

Both players had chances in the next before Trump gained a foothold but ran out of position.

O'Sullivan attempted to play safe but allowed Trump back in and this time the Bristol potter knocked in a superb 106 to make it 6-4. It was top drawer snooker from Trump.

Trump was first among the balls in the next, and thrilled the huge crowd with a bold attempt at a maximum break. He ran out of position at 80 but played a brilliant plant to get back on course. Trump finished awkwardly on the final red before missing a tricky 15th black but his break of 113 made it 7-4.

In the final frame before the evening's mid-session interval, it was O'Sullivan's turn to tease the crowd with the possibility of a 147. The Essex boy broke down at 72 and with 75 still on the table Trump had a chance. But after a couple of Trump attempts, O'Sullivan executed an audacious double to make it 7-5 and keep the fans on the edge of their seats.

Belfast Telegraph

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