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High Five From McManus

Alan McManusAlan McManus won five frames in a row to take a 6-3 lead over Stephen Maguire in the first round of the Betfred World Championship.

Maguire snatched the 16th and last automatic place at the Crucible with his run to the semi-finals of the China Open, but he has not reproduced that form today and is now four frames away from defeat. That would mean a fourth consecutive first round exit for Maguire having lost to Dechawat Poomjaeng in 2013, Ryan Day in 2014 and Anthony McGill last year.

Today’s tartan tussle started well for Maguire as he took a 3-1 lead with breaks of 77, 76 and 74. But McManus his back strongly after the interval and runs of 78, 54 and 63 helped him go 4-3 up.

McManus then made an  excellent 41 clearance to extend his lead. Both players had chances in the last frame of the session, and when Maguire crucially missed the final yellow to a baulk corner, his opponent cleared the table to give himself a handy cushion ahead of the concluding session on Sunday afternoon.

On the other table, Shaun Murphy edged 5-4 ahead of Anthony McGill in a repeat of their quarter-final clash last year, which Murphy won 13-8.

Murphy McGillA run of 61 helped Murphy win the opening frame today then McGill, who impressed on his Crucible debut a year ago, levelled with a superb 119. Murphy’s 93 saw him regain the lead but McGill battled to take the next two frames to go 3-2 up.

Murphy, the 2005 World Champion, stepped up a gear and fired runs of 76, 109 and 55 to go 5-3 ahead. McGill then took the last of the session with a break of 70 to leave the contest in the balance. They are back on the baize on Sunday at 10am.