So we have a “repeat” of the Players Championship Final … the same two guys, only it’s over 25 frames and three sessions this time.
The second semi final didn’t provide the same intensity and tension as the first. Neil Robertson played very well towards the end, and – it has to be said – he also had luck on his side. Or rather Mark Allen had a lot of bad run of the balls. It was obvious that he grew very frustrated as the match unfolded. Nothing worked for him. It all exploded in the last frame where, after Neil Robertson had given him an unexpected chance, and it looked for all the world that he was going to make it 9-7, Mark Allen snookered himself on the last red. Anger got the better of him and he sent the white around the table at meteoritic speed … it was his last shot.
Here are the accounts by Worldsnooker:
Neil Robertson will take a 5-3 advantage over Mark Allen heading into the concluding session of their semi-final clash at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.
Australia’s Robertson requires five more frames when they return at 7pm to play the remainder of this best of 19 encounter. The winner will go on to face Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final over three sessions for the £150,000 top prize.
Both Robertson and Allen are enjoying strong seasons, having won two ranking titles apiece. 15-time ranking event winner Robertson was victorious at the campaign opening Riga Masters and the Welsh Open. While former Masters winner Allen, who tops the one-year list, secured titles at the International Championship and the Scottish Open.
The opening exchanges proved to be fragmented as Allen took a 44-minute opening frame. He then doubled his lead with a break of 78 to move 2-0 up. The third frame contained further drawn out exchanges, but it was Robertson who pivotally came out on top to cut his arrears in half.
Robertson capitalised on his momentum by compiling a century break of 106 to go into the mid-session at 2-2. Further contributions of 101, 61 and 69 helped him to make it five on the bounce, as he led 5-2. Allen then stopped the rot with a break of 77 to make it 5-3 and set up an intriguing evening to come.
Neil Robertson completed a 10-6 defeat of Mark Allen to earn a place in the Coral Tour Championship final in Llandudno.
The win sees Australia’s Robertson reach his third straight ranking final and the 25th of his career. He will take on Ronnie O’Sullivan for the £150,000 top prize. The best of 25-frame clash will take place over three sessions on Saturday and Sunday. The winner will be guaranteed to take home the Coral Cup, which is awarded to the player who earns the most money across the three Coral Series events.
Robertson will be hoping to cap a memorable week with silverware on Sunday evening. He celebrated the birth of his second child with fiancee Mille last weekend, a girl called Penelope.
The Thunder from Down Under has now ended a four-game losing streak against Allen, which included defeat in this season’s International Championship final. Robertson now leads the Northern Irishman 10-7 in their head-to-head record.
Robertson, who has claimed titles at the Welsh Open and Riga Masters this season, grasped the early initiative this afternoon by emerging from the session 5-3 ahead.
The match turned back in the direction of Allen as the action recommenced this evening. He took the opening frame with a break of 77. Robertson responded to make it 6-3, but it was Allen who forced his way back to parity at the mid-session. The Pistol fired in breaks of 82 and 103 on his way to claiming three frames in a row and making it 6-6.
When they returned the pendulum swung once more and Robertson assumed control of proceedings. This time it was a match winning streak, as he took four frames in a row with breaks 106, 87 and 52 to progress and book another final with O’Sullivan. He will be hoping to fare better this time after suffering defeat at the hands of the Rocket in the Coral Players Championship final.
“I really got motoring to have a good lead going into tonight. I won the first frame this evening then I just lost my focus,” said Robertson. “I had to tell myself to concentrate harder. I was still playing well and I felt really good. It was just maintaining my focus when I got in the balls.
“This is my fifth final this season and I’ve never done that before. Ronnie got the better of me last time. Hopefully I can improve my efforts and get the better of him in a best out of 25 frame match, which will be very exciting to play in.
“Ronnie is the best player ever, there is no question about that. You need to apply the pressure when you get the chances. Everyone gives you chances, but it is when you take them and how you take them which is very important.”
Whoever wins on Sunday night will also take the Coral Cup and this trophy.
Before the match they showed a short interview with Ronnie following his win on the previous night.
Honestly it’s hard to call a winner here. Ronnie had a day off, and should be more rested, but I’m not sure that he will be able to muster the same intensity against Neil – who is a good mate – than against Judd. Not that Judd is an “enemy”, but their rivalry at the table is intense and Ronnie was on the back of two final defeats. Also it would be better if he could take the facts that a win would bring him on par with Stephen Hendry regarding ranking titles, and get him back on n°1 in the rankings, out of his mind. But I doubt that the media will allow him to forget that. That said Ronnie looked determined all week. He could do with finding back his long potting though… Neil on the other hand will want to take revenge on the 10-4 drubbing he was inflicted in Preston. If he plays the way he did at the end of the match yesterday, he will be hard to beat. However, yesterday, my feeling was that he was playing with freedom: he sensed how frustrated Mark Allen was, he knew he “had him”. Against Ronnie, he will know that he can’t let his guard down at any time.