Barry Hawkins will take a two frame lead into this evening’s final session of the Coral Northern Ireland Open against Mark King.
Both players are seeking to be the first ever name on the brand new Alex Higgins Trophy. A win for King will see him pick up his first ranking crown, whilst Hawkins is looking to claim his first silverware since the 2014 Players Championship
The Hawk earned his place in the final thanks to being on the correct side of a dramatic final frame with Anthony Hamilton last night. King eased through with a dominant display against Kyren Wilson, who had previously knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams.
There was a fantastic atmosphere at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast as the players took to the arena. The standard of play matched the occasion. Hawkins flew ahead in the first two frames with runs of 85 and 113. King then levelled with a 110 century break. He looked set to level the match in the next but broke down on 49 and allowed the Hawk to snatch a crucial frame before the interval.
When they returned Hawkins claimed a further two frames to establish what looked to be an ominous 5-1 advantage. However, King showed steely resolve and managed to win the final two frames of the afternoon to set up a fascinating evening of snooker with the scores at 5-3 in the best of 17 showdown.