NI lose to China in World Cup final

Published Sunday, 17 July 2011
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China won the first Snooker World Cup since 1996 after Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo beat Northern Ireland's Mark Allen and Gerard Greene in the final in Bangkok.

The pair roared into a 3-0 lead and held off a fightback to clinch victory in the second doubles frame.

Ding took the first frame with breaks of 37 and 84 and Liang wasted no time in taking the second, the 77-0 scoreline meaning Allen's solitary red in frame one remained the only pot for the Irish.

Allen and Greene had lost all four doubles frames in the knock-out stages and an overcut red from Greene let China in in frame three, but they broke down on 46 when Ding lost position. A miss from Allen let them back in, though, and they closed out the frame for an imposing 3-0 lead.

Greene extended the match as he was reprieved after an early error and capitalised with a 109 to beat Ding, but Liang still had the chance to seal the title against Allen.

He made 55 but missed a straightforward pink and Allen responded with 69 and got over the line after a high-quality safety battle, leaving the Irish needing to end their doubles hoodoo to set up a decider.

But the alternate-shot format proved their Achilles heel once again as an early miss from Greene allowed Ding and Liang to compile a break of 89 and seal a 4-2 win.

Ding said: "When the last World Cup was held I was nine and had only just picked up my first cue a few months before. I'm very proud of China. We've made a lot of friends at this tournament.

"We both played really well. We got off to a good start and were 3-0 ahead and in the fourth frame I missed a blue to make it 3-1. When we were 3-0 up I thought we would finish it in the fourth frame.

"You don't get many chances to play in this tournament and this is the first time I've played in it but I hope I can play in this more times and win more times.

"Liang played very well and better than last season. Last year there was a lot of pressure on him but you need to understand he will come back and play better and better."

Northern Ireland's Allen responded: "We were up against it right from the start and in the first two frames China played flawless snooker and we didn't have a chance. It was just about digging in and staying in the match and we managed to win two frames.

"But they played better snooker on the day so they probably deserved to win.

"If someone had said we would get to the final then we would've taken it but being in the final you never want to finish runners-up. We've won a bit of money to put in the bank but it's just a shame we couldn't lift the trophy."

China had reached the final with a hugely impressive 4-1 win over favourites Wales.

Ding took a dramatic opening frame against Mark Williams on a re-spotted black after both players had chances to win it, but a break of 70 helped Matthew Stevens beat Liang to level.

China matched that break to win the doubles and Liang made it 3-1 after Williams broke down on 40 and then missed a routine yellow off its spot.

Ding made a half-century in the next but had to wait to wrap up the frame against Stevens, and the match 4-1.

Williams summed up the Welsh pair's frustration when he said: "We've tried our best in hard conditions. We were two balls away from it being 3-1 and I should've won against Liang and if Matthew pots the red in the last he would've dished up and we're back in it."

There was to be no all-Asian final, though, as Northern Ireland edged out Hong Kong 4-3.

Allen and Greene enjoyed easy opening wins over Marco Fu and Fung Kwok Wai respectively, but the margin was cut to one frame as a break of 59 earned Hong Kong a scrappy doubles success.

Greene ground past Fu but amateur Fung stunned Allen with a break of 80, and another doubles defeat for the Northern Ireland pair took the match into a deciding "captain's pick" singles.

Allen and Fu were unsurprisingly sent into action, and a 48 helped the former seal victory.

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