Premier League Snooker: Night Ten Review

The final night of the league stage of the 2008 Premier League has been completed and the four semi-finalists have been decided. Click below to find out how it all unfolded…

Match One: Davis and Higgins play out 3-3 draw

The first match of the evening saw John Higgins and Steve Davis play out a 3-3 draw in a light-hearted match that had very little riding on it as far as the league table went.

The less said about the first couple of frames the better I think, both missed several pots and unfortunately looked like the two players bottom of the league, as of course they are this season. Still, Davis will not have cared too much as he took both to move into an early 2-0 lead against his Scottish opponent.

Higgins then started to play a little bit better, making a well-taken break of 46 to go ahead in the third frame before missing a tough pink into a corner pocket. Davis though could not capitalise on his error and 2-1 it was.

Frame four was the most dramatic of the match as John found himself in around the black spot with the reds well spread for the first Premier League 147 since the shot clock came in. Unfortunately however he broke down on 73 when having played a poor shot off the black, he had to go in and out of baulk with the following red and failed when he hit the brown full ball. Disappointing as it was, he had at least done enough to level the match at 2-2, before he took the next to secure at least a point from the night.

The final frame saw an entertaining conclusion as Davis looked to have his first point of the campaign secure when Higgins needed two snookers to win the match. As it was though, John not only got the snooker, but when Davis missed it, he left a free ball to give John a chance to win the match. With what would be the final twist though, Higgins missed the final green off the spot and Davis made no mistake as he cleared to the pink to earn his first point of the campaign.

As both players indicated during their post-match interview, neither played well throughout the campaign and this match typified their performances to a large extent. Higgins said before the match that after two seasons he has still not settled into the 25 second shot clock rule and when comparing his league performances to some of those in the Grand Prix that he won, it is easy to believe him.

Davis meanwhile was pretty brutal about his own performances, joking that he has probably only been involved because ‘his mate Barry Hearn’ is running the competition! He said that he will be hoping to earn his place in the league next year via the Championship League which was won by Joe Perry this year as he is not playing well enough to be there by right at the moment. Watch this space on that.

Match Two: Hendry seals semi-spot with nervy draw

Stephen Hendry got the point he needed against Ding Junhui tonight in a tense encounter to book his place in the play-offs in Hopton next week.

The first chance in the opening frame fell to Stephen as a fluked red followed by an impressive black looked to give him a good chance to make the perfect start against Ding. A poor missed pink to the right-centre on 36 proved to be costly however as Ding immediately stepped in with an 85 break of his own to show that he meant business.

Stephen was not too down at his missed opportunity though as after a high quality safety exchange, he forced an error from his opponent and with a great shot to free the black and a clever plant on the next shot to regain top position, made 88 from it to immediately level it at 1-1.

The big breaks kept coming in frame three as following a missed long-red from Stephen, Ding found himself with a magnificent opportunity to make his second career maximum and the first by anyone under the 25 second shot clock. Unfortunately it all began to unravel when he underhit the 14th black in an effort to not snooker himself on a final red with the pink, but left himself out of ideal position. He could not get nicely on the final black as a result and despite a brave effort to clip it in, failed on 113 which leaves Steve Davis’ effort of 143 last season as still the highest break under shot clock conditions.

Hendry again though hit straight back in the next for 2-2, with a very well-taken break with the reds all towards the left of the table. Ding though took frame five to ensure that the match – and the final qualification spot would go right down to the wire.

First chance in the decider fell to Hendry and he looked good until he split the reds. Though he played the shot brilliantly, he was unlucky to finish tight on the cushion, unable to do much for position from the next red. Having missed a long blue to the green pocket, it was Ding’s turn to have a go at clinching the frame and it looked like the balls were well-placed for a clearance.

Ding though could never quite get into perfect position and faced with an awkward cutback to keep the break going, used his fifth and final time-out of the match to steady himself. It was to no avail however as he missed the red, leaving Hendry with a great chance to put together a big lead, which he did, going 50 ahead with just 51 on the table.

Though he missed the frame ball red to the right-centre, Ding could not launch a counter-attack and Hendry soon finished it off to secure a 3-3 draw and his place in next week’s play-offs.

Hendry will be delighted to be there, particularly after his opening two results this season which saw him lose 5-1 to both Mark Selby and Joe Perry. Ever since his 4-2 win over John Higgins at Sheffield he has looked much more like his own self, winning two and drawing two matches just sneak through ahead of Ding on frame difference.

It is disappointing for Ding but like Hendry, his early form was not good at all and left him with a lot to do in his final matches. He played ok tonight but the draw was probably the fair result, neither quite playing well enough to deserve a win. He will be back next year though and will no doubt be one of the favourites for the event once again.

Match Three: Selby cements top spot

In what was a match of two halves, Mark Selby and Joe Perry played out the third 3-3 draw of the evening, a result that ensured Selby of top spot in the league.

First blood went to Mark who made 63 in what was a fairly rapid first frame, but the second proved to be a much tighter affair, going right down to the final pink. In the end though after both had missed good chances, Perry crucially went in-off the final pink and handed Selby a 2-0 lead.

Needing just one more to secure at least a point, as well as top spot in the league and a semi-final with Stephen Hendry, Selby wasted no time and did it in the very next frame with a couple of small breaks for 3-0.

Now with only pride and pounds to play for though, Joe began to relax a little and secured £2,000 in frame four with a well-taken break of 115 to pull a frame back. He looked like doing it again in the next frame before breaking down on 40, though he still managed to take the frame. The next proved to be a similar story as without making a big break, Joe did enough and earned himself a point and a bit more cash with a 3-3 draw.

Semi-final line-up

So just to confirm what tonight’s results mean, Mark Selby as a result of his 3-3 draw tonight has topped the league, finishing as the only unbeaten player in the competition. As a result he will now face Stephen Hendry who today got the point he needed against Ding Junhui to clinch fourth place in the table.

Joe Perry meanwhile finishes second and will now play Ronnie O’Sullivan (again!) in the other semi-final.

November 27 – The Glades Arena, Kidderminster

£3,000   Steve Davis 3-3 John Higgins  £3,000
68(36)-18, 57(36)-8, 8-66(46), 16-73(73), 29-70(69), 69-31
£3,000   Stephen Hendry 3-3 Ding Junhui   £4,000
36(36)-85(85c), 88(88)-1, 0-113(113), 69(50)-12, 8-72(46), 69(38)-13
£3,000   Mark Selby 3-3 Joe Perry   £4,000
91(63)-3, 59-49, 80(37)-22, 6-115(115), 2-57(40), 22-68(51)
For a list of centuries, money earned and the league table, please click here.
To read my report from week six of the event, please click here.