China A made it through to the quarter-finals of the Little Swan World Cup in Wuxi, beating Hong Kong 3-2 in their last group match thanks to Ding Junhui.
The winner of the match was sure to go through to the last eight, and with the score at 2-2, Hong Kong’s Marco Fu had the chance to knock out the home favourites. He made a break of 51, but that proved in vain as Ding made a brilliant 67 clearance.
Ding and Liang Wenbo finished the group stage with 17 points, level with Belgium at the top of Group B. Belgian duo Luca Brecel and Jeff Jacobs topped the group having won the match between the two teams earlier in the week.
Belgium lost 3-2 to the Republic of Ireland in their last group game. They went 3-0 down but managed to take the last two frames to ensure pole position.
China A will now face Wales in Saturday’s quarter-finals while Belgium will take on China B.
Iran was the last team to make it through to the quarter-finals as they thrashed Malta 5-0 in their final match in Group C.
Going into the last round of matches, English pair Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins were sure to top the group, but second place was in the balance with Iran and Australia the main contenders.
Iran’s Hossein Vafaei and Soheil Vahedi dominated against Malta, winning all five frames. Australia lost 4-1 to England which meant Iran were sure to progress.
They will face Thailand in the quarter-finals while England, who have won a remarkable 22 out of 25 frames so far, will be up against Northern Ireland.
Scotland Crash Out Of World Cup
Scottish duo John Higgins and Anthony McGill suffered an early exit at the Little Swan World Cup in China, despite beating India 3-2 in their final group game.
Scotland’s margin of victory was not enough to put them ahead of Northern Ireland, who beat Israel 3-2, or Thailand, who thrashed Cyprus 5-0. Thai duo Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham topped Group D with 18 points out of a possible 25, followed by Northern Ireland on 16 then Scotland in third on 14.
McGill won the opening frame for the Scots but then Aditya Mehta levelled for India by beating Higgins with a break of 85. Scotland won the doubles frame then McGill beat Mehta with a break of 94, but Higgins lost the last frame against Brijesh Damani.
Scotland were runners-up to China B at the last World Cup in 2015 but four-time World Champion Higgins was disappointed by their failure to reach the knock-out stage this time. “We lost to the two toughest teams in Thailand and Northern Ireland,” he said. “When you do that you don’t deserve to go through. It was a great experience playing with Anthony, he’ll play in many more World Cups. But the two of us struggled a bit. It’s a difficult format and all the games are tough.”
Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen and Joe Swail raced into a 3-0 lead over Israel, with Allen making a 73 in frame two. They lost the last two frames but had already done enough to book a quarter-final against England. Allen said: “We’re happy to get through, that was the job when we started in the group stage. We’ll need to play better against England but we’re still fighting. They have two of the best players in the world in Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins. They will be favourites but anything can happen in this format. Both of us will need to play well.”
Breaks of 73 and 59 from Un-Nooh helped Thailand whitewash Cyprus and they will now meet Iran.
In Group A, defending champions China B made it through to the quarter-finals by the narrowest of margins. They finished tied with Brazil on 15 points but China B won the match between those two teams earlier in the week so they finished ahead in the final table.
Brazilian duo Itaro Santos and Igor Figueiredo beat group-toppers Wales 3-2 in their match today, with Figueiredo beating Mark Williams in the deciding frame.
That meant China B’s Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong had to win three frames against Malaysia. They were 2-1 down but crucially took the last two frames to win 3-2, with Zhou beating Moh Keen Ho and Yan beating Thor Chuan Leong thanks to a break of 66.
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