Scottish duo John Higgins and Anthony McGill suffered an early exit at the Little Swan World Cup in China, despite beating India 3-2 in their final group game.
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Scotland’s margin of victory was not enough to put them ahead of Northern Ireland, who beat Israel 3-2, or Thailand, who thrashed Cyprus 5-0. Thai duo Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham topped Group D with 18 points out of a possible 25, followed by Northern Ireland on 16 then Scotland in third on 14.
McGill won the opening frame for the Scots bu then Aditya Mehta levelled for India by beating Higgins with a break of 85. Scotland won the doubles frame then McGill beat Mehta with a break of 94, but Higgins lost the last frame against Brijesh Damani.
Scotland were runners-up to China B at the last World Cup in 2015 but four-time World Champion Higgins was disappointed by their failure to reach the knock-out stage this time. “We lost to the two toughest teams in Thailand and Northern Ireland,” he said. “When you do that you don’t deserve to go through. It was a great experience playing with Anthony, he’ll play in many more World Cups. But the two of us struggled a bit. It’s a difficult format and all the games are tough.”
Un-Nooh has been superb so far for Thailand
Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen and Joe Swail raced into a 3-0 lead over Israel, with Allen making a 73 in frame two. They lost the last two frames but had already done enough to book a quarter-final against England. Allen said: “We’re happy to get through, that was the job when we started in the group stage. We’ll need to play better against England but we’re still fighting. They have two of the best players in the world in Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins. They will be favourites but anything can happen in this format. Both of us will need to play well.”
Breaks of 73 and 59 from Un-Nooh helped Thailand whitewash Cyprus and they will now meet the runner-up in Group C.
Yan Bingtao – vital win in the last frame
In Group A, defending champions China B made it through to the quarter-finals by the narrowest of margins. They finished tied with Brazil on 15 points but China B won the match between those two teams earlier in the week so they finished ahead in the final table.
Brazilian duo Itaro Santos and Igor Figueiredo beat group-toppers Wales 3-2 in their match today, with Figueiredo beating Mark Williams in the deciding frame.
That meant China B’s Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong had to win three frames against Malaysia. They were 2-1 down but crucially took the last two frames to win 3-2, with Zhou beating Moh Keen Ho and Yan beating Thor Chuan Leong thanks to a break of 66.
Wales, who won 19 frames out of 25 during the group phase, will now meet the runner-up of Group B in Saturday’s quarter-finals, while China B will take on the winner.