Saturday, 10 December 2011


It is the first report from York by our exclusive journalist Susan Jardine! Over to you, Susan. 

JUDD Trump booked himself a place in the final of the UK Snooker Championship after a 9-7 victory over a disappointing Neil Robertson.

Trump, who sent Robertson packing in the opening round of the World Championship earlier this year started as he had left off against the Australian with a break of 47. Back though came Robertson, determined to make Judd scrap for everything. The Australian counter finished on 60 which sent the opening frame to a battle of the colours. It was settled when Robertson left the blue hanging over the centre pocket and Trump helped himself to the opener.

Building on this the Bristol man dominated the second with a break of 84 to lead 2-0. Robertson badly needed to take the third if he was to stay in contention. The former world champion, lacking his usual fluency finally scrambled over the finishing line to reduce his arrears to 2-1. Encouraged Neil took the fourth with breaks of 49 and 67 to level the match at 2-2 at the mid session interval.

With the match perfectly poised it was Judd who re-established himself by taking the fifth frame with a break of 43 after Robertson's rash attempt at along red only succeeded in scattering the reds into pottable positions. The Australian though , who has never won this title was not going anywhere without a fight and retaliated with a 105 clearance, to remind Judd that any errors such as a missed mid length red would be severely punished.

The see saw routine continued as Trump edged in front at 4-3 with an audacious plant for what was to be a decisive 69, leaving Robertson needing snookers, which he was destined not to find and the concession of the frame duly came. So with one frame to be played before the mid session interval Judd was in the position of knowing that he would either be level or two frames in front. Which was it to be.

The answer was swift and clincial as Robertson hammered in a 77 break to end the session at 4-4 and set up an intriguing evening session.

Resuming it was Neil who appeared to have wrested the initiative as he fired in a 56, only to leave the final red sitting over the corner pocket. Helping himself to the lifeline thrown to him Trump struck a 33 to clear up and pinch the frame. A frame that Robertson should have won. Now, 4-5 behind he needed a swift and sharp response.

It seemed as though Robertson would soon level at 5-5. Trump's long red to the corner wobbled in the jaws and stayed out. Even worse the cue ball travelled back up the table and left Robertson with an easy starter. It was a gilt edged chance that ended on 36 when the Aussie was forced into safety. As Trump countered the scores were delicately poised at 37-36 in favour of Robertson. Two reds left on the table and it was Trump who erred as he left a red sitting over the corner pocket. Yet as Robertson cued the shot the red wobbled in the jaw and stayed out. Trump hardly daring to believe his good fortune stepped in and cleared to the green. All he needed was the frame ball brown. He missed it and Robertson held his nerve to sink the brown. Next up was the blue. In cutting it to the centre Robertson saw the blue hit the knuckle. But he was fortunate as the cue ball travelled towards the corner pocket and was covered by the pink. Chances were going begging and with the scores 54-52 it became a black ball game that was settled when Robertson finally nailed the black and let rip with a fist pump and a cry of "Come On".

But still Robertson couldn't finish off a frame in one visit. He should have wrapped up the eleventh when well in with a 42. But his inability to finish a frame off was to cost him again as Trump cleared up to lead 6-5

Trump dominated the twelfth frame with a break of 73- after Robertson had left a red sitting ober the corner pocket. For the first time since the opening two frames Trump had a two frame buffer at 7-5. And he needed just two more for victory.

The power of fate seemed to be against Robertson as a break of 49 came to an abrupt end when a kick in cueing the red resulted in the cue ball going off. Taking a red to the centre Judd confidently dispatched a quickfire 26 before leaving Robertson snookered on all four remaining reds. But this time it was Judd who erred and left Neil a chance of a red to the centre. Grabbing it he knocked in a vital 18 to leave Judd looking for snookers which he was not to find.

With the pace of the match slowing it was developing into a tactical battle as well. A re-recked 13th frame ended with Robertson finally forcing a mistake from Trump. Sinking a mid length red Robertson showed more like his usual fluency in firing in a break of 83 to level at 7-7. Effectively the match was now the best of three.

But could Robertson sustain it. Initially the answer appeared to be yes as well placed among the balls he could only make seven before overcutting a red to the centre. With the chance now in Judd's hands he calmly with a break of 51 before missing the frame ball red. But Judd was not to be denied and drilled in a long red and followed up with the pink and a red to move to within one frame of victory.

With the scores poised at 37-36 in favour of the Englishman Robertson knew he couldn't afford anymore mistakes. But he left a straight red to the corner and Judd seized his chance. The red disappeared and followed with the oink and the final red and a blue to arrive at the colours. The yellow, awkwardly placed on the cushion disappeared and Trump duly completed the formalities to the pink to seal a nerve jangling victory and set up a final with Mark Allen or Ricky Walden.

Suzy Jardine - The Barbican, York.


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