Republic Win All Irish Affair In Wuxi

Higgins On The Brink Of Final Place

John Higgins needs just one frame to reach the final of the Betfred World Championship for the sixth time having taken a 16-8 lead over Barry Hawkins.

Wizard of Wishaw Higgins dominated the third session of his Crucible semi-final, winning six of the eight frames. The match resumes at 7pm tonight with the Scot on the brink of the final, and if he gets to 17 frames he’ll face Mark Selby or Ding Junhui on Sunday and Monday.

Higgins lifted the trophy in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011 and is aiming to join Ronnie O’Sullivan on five world titles.

Londoner Hawkins won the opening frame today with a break of 69 and had a chance to take the next from 50-0 down but crucially missed a tricky brown to a centre pocket after potting the last red. Higgins cleared for 11-7.

Frame 19 came down to a battle on the final pink, and after both players had failed to convert long pots, Higgins slotted it into a baulk corner to extend his lead. Hawkins has appeared in the semi-finals four times since 2013 but reached just one final, and when his opponent dominated the 20th frame to lead 13-7 at the interval, the match was slipping away from the Englishman.

Hawkins led 62-4 in the next but couldn’t secure the frame, and Higgins fought back to snatch it with superb pots on the final pink and black. And Hawkins failed to pot a ball in the next two frames as Higgins compiled breaks of 45 and 90 to go 16-7 ahead.

Looking to end the match a session early, 41-year-old Higgins had first chance in the last frame of the session but only made 7 before missing the black to a top corner. Hawkins made 58 and eventually clinched it on the colours to make sure he’ll be back tonight.