• Snooker World Cup

China pip Northern Ireland to Snooker World Cup

ESPN staff
July 17, 2011

China were crowned Snooker World Cup champions on Sunday after they outclassed Northern Ireland in Thailand.

The pairing of Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo comfortably overcame Mark Allen and Gerard Greene 4-2 in snooker's answer to the Davis Cup. In a best-of-seven final, the Chinese pairing raced out to a 3-0 lead before eventually wrapping things up in the second doubles match.

Ding and Allen were first to the table, and the Chinaman punished his rival on his second visit, amassing a break of 84 to give his nation the advantage. By the time Liang had beaten Greene for 2-0, Northern Ireland has potted just one red in two frames.

The doubles encounter was a more cautious affair as both sides entered into a safety war, eventually won by Ding and Liang. Allen was the man to err, leaving the table open when he attempted to roll along the top cushion, and China made no mistake in capitalising.

Greene battled to keep Northern Ireland alive with a break of 109 to defeat Ding in the next singles match, before Liang then choked in the next rubber when he was three balls from victory. Missing an easy pink, he handed Allen the chance to rescue the match for Ireland, which he did with a nerveless 69.

However, the Northern Irish duo have struggled all week in the doubles, and so it proved again as Liang and Ding clinched victory with a break of 89.

Earlier in the day top seeds Wales suffered a crushing 4-1 defeat at the hands of China. Mark Williams and Ding whetted the appetite by serving up a cracking first frame, with Ding taking the honours 85-78 on a respotted black - the first time that Wales had fallen behind in the tournament.

Wales' deficit lasted less than half an hour as a break of 70 helped Matthew Stevens draw them level against Liang. The tide turned in the following frame, however, China's pairing profiting from elementary mistakes to claim the doubles.

A break of 40 from Williams looked to have secured the next but, after failing with a yellow on its spot, Liang capitalised to inflict a second singles defeat on Williams and put China on the verge of victory. Stevens battled hard in the final rubber against Ding but ultimately came up short; the Masters champion wrapping up a 4-1 triumph.

A despondent Stevens questioned the tournament's format. "It's such a fine line. We knew all along before coming here it was anyone's tournament with such a short format and that proved it. We lost two black ball games but didn't do much wrong and it could've easily gone the other way. The format gives everyone a chance to do well and personally it was a bit of fun but hard to take it seriously as it's such a short format."

Northern Ireland's route to the final saw them beat Hong Kong 4-3. Allen and Greene had upset Scotland in the quarter-finals, with Allen beating world champion John Higgins in the deciding frame, and it was he who proved the hero once again as he beat Marco Fu 102-0 to clinch the victory.

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