Jimmy White and Tony Drago Storm Through on Dramatic Day at the Crucible

Home » Jimmy White and Tony Drago Storm Through on Dramatic Day at the Crucible

Jimmy White came from 2-0 down to defeat debutant Andrew Norman and keep alive his hopes of a record-extending fifth Mr Vegas World Seniors Championship crown.

The defending champion was one of four players, along with ‘The Tornado’ Tony Drago, Barry Pinches and Dechawat Poomjaeng, to book their places in the quarter-finals on the second day of action at the Crucible Theatre as the first round came to a dramatic conclusion.

‘The Whirlwind’ began the defence of his title in the second match of the afternoon session and it was former professional Norman, who was making his first ever appearance at snooker’s most iconic venue, who was standing in the way of the four-time and reigning champion.

Despite the occasion, Norman showed few signs of nerves as he took a scrappy opening frame before firing in a steely break of 65 when trailing by 48 points to double his lead and move one frame away from completing a first round upset.

White got in first in frame three and looked set to reduce his deficit before breaking down on a break of 54 and leaving Norman in the balls with a golden opportunity to earn a whitewash victory.

A missed black off the spot on 25 from Norman may haunt him for some time, as White capitalised to pull a frame back before winning a scrappy fourth frame to force a decider to close out the afternoon session.

Both players had their chances in the fifth, but after Norman missed a tricky final red with the spider while on 52, it was the defending champion who eventually cleared from brown to pink to salvage the win – much to the joy of the Crucible crowd who let out a roar as the winning ball found the pocket.

White, who was carrying with him a card from his grandson as a lucky charm, said: “I was very lucky to win the game. I was very glassy today, I was struggling and I didn’t feel good so I’m pleased.

“I’m playing some good stuff – that looked like a banana skin but I’m through now so hopefully I can play better next time.”

Drago Downs Judge

Drago booked his place in the Mr Vegas World Seniors Championship quarter-final for a second consecutive year courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Michael Judge in the first match of day two.

The Maltese cueist, who reached the semi-finals last year, was averaging 13 seconds per shot after three frames but struggled to offer sizeable contributions in a scrappy affair against the Irish former professional.

A break of 46 in the opener was enough for ‘The Tornado’ to take an early lead, despite Judge’s best efforts to find snookers late in the frame, and Drago then doubled his advantage in frame two on the final pink to move one away from victory.

Frame three was also decided on the colours as Judge took it on the last blue to reduce the deficit. The Irishman, who made three appearances at the Crucible during his professional career, looked on course to force a decider but a dramatic moment late in the fourth saw a blue that looked certain to drop freakishly bounce off the leather at the back of the pocket and land back on the baize.

Drago was able to capitalise and secure the victory, reflecting afterwards: “I could have won comfortably but in the end I won in a freakish way. It’s not my fault and if I say I am not happy to go on to the next round then I will be telling a lie – but I would rather Michael had missed by miles than the blue coming back out of the pocket.

“I didn’t make centuries but I scored fifties and that’s all you need in best of fives. I’m just going to chill out and be ready for tomorrow.”

Pinches Powers Through

An impressive display from Pinches saw him set up a quarter-final meeting with James Wattana by overcoming the 1986 World champion Joe Johnson 3-1.

The former English Amateur champion was utterly dominant in the early stages of the match, forcing his opponent to go more than 30 minutes without potting a ball as he charged into a 2-0 lead with breaks of 54 and 50.

Pinches would ultimately go 203 points without reply before Johnson finally got back into the game in frame three, as the Norwich cueist began to show signs of trying to defend his lead. A dramatic frame eventually went the way of Johnson, who potted the final black with a cross-double to reduce his deficit to 2-1.

It was Pinches, however, who managed to get over the line in the fourth and he now meets Asian superstar Wattana in Friday’s last eight.

Post-match, Pinches said: “I was really pleased with my scoring. The third frame went a little bit more scrappy and Joe made some good pots to win that frame on the black but I managed to build and early lead in the next and finish it off.

“Best-of-five frame snooker is just so tough. You’ve only got to lose that one frame and you’re bang under it, even if you’re 2-0 up that’s 2-1 and you’re under the cosh.

“I haven’t played James for a few years – I think we played once or twice as professionals but we did have a couple of really big amateur matches so it’ll just be great to play him again. I’ve always admired James, he was the trailblazer for Asian snooker so it’ll be nice to play him.”

Dechawat Delights Crucible Crowd

Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng made a winning start to his maiden Mr Vegas World Seniors Championship campaign by defeating 2011 winner Darren Morgan 3-1.

Poomjaeng was making his first Crucible appearance since 2013, when he reached the last 16 of the World Championship, and he was determined to enjoy every second of the experience – arriving into the arena adorning two separate pairs of sunglasses to Robbie Williams’ “Let Me Entertain You” by Robbie Williams.

A break of 41 in the opener saw Poomjaeng take the frame and he quickly doubled his advantage with a solid performance in the second.

Despite missing the frame ball red, a whitewash looked inevitable when the Thai cueist compiled a 57 in the third. But Morgan, who up until this point had a high break of 9 and was visibly struggling with back issues, suddenly found a John Higgins style clearance of 68 from nowhere to keep his hopes alive.

Sadly for the Welshman, however, it wasn’t to be as Poomjaeng managed to reach the winning line in frame four and will now face 1997 World champion Ken Doherty on Friday afternoon.

“I really enjoyed it and I am very happy to see the crowd happy.” Poomjeng said after the match.

“(Darren) has pain in his back and he still played like this – I don’t believe it! I have had pain before and I cannot play like that. He’s a very dangerous player.

“(Ken) is an amazing player. I will just play and have fun and be happy to play with Ken tomorrow.”

Tomorrow will see all four quarter-finals played across two sessions and you can watch LIVE on Channel 5 and 5 Action in the UK.

Limited tickets remain available.