Robertson romps to second success at UK Championship Snooker
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | December 6, 2015
Auusie Robertson reigns again at UK snooker
Neil Robertson regained snooker’s UK Championship with a 10-5 victory over surprise finalist Liang Wenbo, hitting a maximum 147 break en route to his second success at York’s Barbican Centre.
The Thunder from Down Under opened up three-frame leads on three occasions at 5-2, 7-4 and 8-5, eventually pulling away from 28th seed Liang to ensure he lifted the trophy again, with Australian expat Robertson having previously triumphed in 2013. He also followed up victory at the Champion of Champions event.
Wenbo sent shockwaves through the snooker world when he knocked out tournament favourite Judd Trump, as well as former finalist Marco Fu, on his journey to the runners-up spot.
Thunder fated for baize of glory
A result for Robertson looked likely before the boys took to the green baize, having whitewashed world number one Mark Selby 6-0 in the semi-finals. He was never behind playing Liang, taking a cagey opening frame that lasted about 35 minutes.
Mistakes from Wenbo in his first major ranking event final contributed toward Robertson establishing an early 2-0 advantage, but a 110 break in frame three from the Chinese cueman got him on the board.
Cheaply missing the brown off its spot allowed Robertson to make a century of his own and take a 3-1 lead into the mid-session interval. The Thunder missed frame ball when play resumed, allowing Liang to take another scrappy affair.
Satisfaction to the max
Frame six saw Robertson make the first-ever 147 total clearance in the final of one of snooker’s Triple Crown tournaments (the Masters and World Championship plus the UK), with clever cannons to clear the reds a feature.
Another Asian potter, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, missed the final black against Robertson to fall short of the maximum in the last 32. The Thunder made no mistake, however, to bag a combined £44k for the feat and the highest tournament break.
Wenbo went further behind, with a knock of 69 enough to guarantee Robertson a lead going into the final session, but some thin cuts saw Liang reduce his arrears from the afternoon to 5-3.
Underdog Liang too emotional?
A clearing break of 82 in the first frame of the evening put Wenbo within one of the Aussie. This was the same fighting spirit that saw Liang claw back from 4-2 down in his semi with fellow surprise package David Grace to win 6-4.
When asked questioned by Wenbo, however, Robertson simply responded taking the next two, going 7-4 up. Liang’s 78 in frame 12 decreased the deficit going into the final interval.
Tension crept into Robertson’s play with the winning line approaching, but he eventually did enough to re-establish the three-frame gap again at 8-5.
Robertson seizes opportunity
Errors from both players in frame 14 heightened the intensity, with emotive responses and antics from Wenbo when missing pots – following suit to is jubilant celebrations by just reaching this final – simply stoking the Thunder to clear up and go within one of victory.
Robertson swiftly got himself among the balls now in pole position to seal the title after splitting the pack in the 15th, but missed the green on 42. Liang failed to capitalise, and the Thunder wrapped up a 10-5 win with his second visit.
Having smashed Selby, mauled Stephen Maguire and bested a rejuvenated John Higgins en route to regaining this crown, Robertson put together the best snooker of any baize potter at the Barbican.
How will he fare at the Masters with Ronnie O’Sullivan returning to action, though? Robertson is 5/1 second-favourite to follow up and win the Masters, going one better than last season. The draw is below:
2016 Masters Snooker first round draw
Shaun Murphy v Mark Allen
Barry Hawkins v Joe Perry
Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire
Neil Robertson v Marco Fu
Mark Selby v Ricky Walden
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Williams
John Higgins v Liang Wenbo
Stuart Bingham v Ding Junhui