The final day of the qualifying competition for the Northern Ireland Open takes place in Wigan on Sunday when the 14 players who haven’t yet attempted to get the win which will take them to Belfast take to the baize to do so.
The majority of the familiar names in action this week have come and gone but there are still one or two recognisable players to treat us to what will hopefully be some decent snooker as we finalise who will go to the main venue.
As always there is a Chinese player on show in the morning session and he happens to be the highest ranked player on show in it too. That player is Tian Pengfei who will be looking to make it to Northern Ireland and join a number of his counterparts there. If he is to do that he’ll need to get the better of Ian Burns. There is an O’Sullivan on show in the other match in the session but it isn’t Ronnie it is Sean and he’ll face Jamie O’Neill in what is a big game for both men.
Early Afternoon Session
We have a competitive looking session first up in the afternoon with four relatively even ranked players taking to the baize to look for the win they need to book their spot in Belfast. David Grace is the highest ranked of those and he’ll go up against a Chinese player in the form of Lei Peifan. The other match sees Jackson Page continuing to follow up a good end to the previous campaign when he takes on a Robbie Williams who should be much higher in the rankings than he is.
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Later Afternoon Session
Martin Gould is always a popular and familiar sight at tournaments and he will be looking to qualify for the opening Home Nations event of the season where he would be a live contender should he get there. He has a meeting with the veteran player Michael Judge who had a decent tilt in the European Masters last week. The other match sees Hammad Miah taking on James Cahill with both men looking for ranking money which could be valuable even this early in the season.
There is a preliminary round match to be played to fill one of the qualifying spots for this tournament but because two Northern Ireland amateurs are in it that has been held back for the venue which means there is just the one match left for the evening session. That means the entertaining Thepchaiya Un-Nooh will get the chance to take centre stage when he takes on a very competitive Chris Wakelin in what might just be the pick of the matches on the Sunday card.
I’ll finish the qualifying competition with one bet which comes in the first of the two afternoon sessions as Robbie Williams takes on Jackson Page in a match where I think the most established and seasoned campaigner Williams can come out on top. It is ironic that he is taking on Robbie Williams because Page is the entertainer of these two but with that brand of snooker comes some risks and generally that level of snooker needs a rhythm and a run of form which nobody is really getting at this stage of the season.
I have always thought Williams was an underrated player and he has begun this season better than he did at any stage last term really. He has been scoring well which I think is significant in this match because you would expect him to get the better of his Welsh opponent in the tactical department. If Williams scores well here he has every chance and he has the nous to keep Page at long range. Page had a week of ups and downs at the European Masters so he isn’t showing much consistency yet. I fancy the more solid Wililams to come through here.
Back R.Williams to beat J.Page for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill
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