Ronnie O’Sullivan held off a spirited fightback from James Cahill in Preston, to qualify for next month’s International Championship.
In a break from the norm, it wasn’t the Rocket who garnered the lion’s share of the support. Cahill, who comes from just short way down the road in Blackpool, had a strong local backing in the historic Guild Hall. He looked to be enjoying the occasion, taking out a tricky clearance of 33 to claim the first frame, after both players had missed chances.
O’Sullivan won a tight second frame and then began to assert himself on the match. He made breaks of 44, 71, 88 and 74 to move into a seemingly unassailable 5-1 advantage.
However, the gutsy Cahill wasn’t prepared to go quietly and launched an unlikely comeback. As the game became more fragmented, O’Sullivan started to miss chances and Cahill picked off three frames in a row with several middling breaks. The 20-year-old made contributions of 46, 38 and 35, as he moved within one at 5-4.
The Rocket put an end to Cahill’s fightback in the tenth frame, getting in first with 40 and despite breaking down, he was allowed back in to book his trip to China.
Anthony McGill secured passage with a win over Malaysia’s Thor Chuan Leong. The Scot made breaks of 70, 74, 71 and 135 during a 6-3 victory.
David Gilbert wasted little time in clinching a 6-0 win over Gareth Allen. In a game which took just under two hours, the 35-year-old made breaks of 78, 83, 51 and 64.
In stark contrast, John Astley’s four-hour win over Peter Ebdon had to be spread over two sessions. After being pulled off at 5-3 up, it was the player from Gateshead took the next frame to come through as a 6-3 winner.
For full results click here.