Maguire holds off Murphy fightback to secure place in second round

Maguire holds off Murphy fightback to secure place in second round thumbnail
Alex Livie

Stephen Maguire sparked into life at the ideal time to beat Shaun Murphy 10-8 and book his place in the second round of the World Championship.

Maguire held a 6-3 lead overnight despite not playing brilliantly on Saturday, and found himself on the back foot as Murphy roared back.

From 6-2 down, Murphy edged into an 8-7 lead, only for Maguire to pounce on a surprising missed red from his opponent in the 16th and he took control from that point to set up a meeting with Zhao Xintong.

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Murphy was guilty of missing too many easy balls on Saturday, but he came out impressively with a statement break in the opening frame of the final session. He got in with a sizzling long red to the bottom left and brought up the 576th century of his career with a total clearance of 130.

Maguire pounced on Murphy errors on Saturday, but at the start of the second session it was the Scot who was off colour and a run of 61 from Murphy cut the gap to one.

The 12th had a big feel to it, with both players having chances. Maguire had a face like thunder in his seat after he failed to lay a decent safety and offered a chance to Murphy, but later in the frame the Scot benefited from an outrageous fluke – as he missed a red to the bottom left by a distance only to see it career up and down the table and into the bottom right – to get his first frame of the evening on the board.

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While Maguire had luck on his side in the 12th, the scales tipped the other way in the following frame. The Scot did well to escape from a snooker but was stopped in his tracks as the red cannoned into the pink and sent it into the pocket.

It provided Murphy with a free ball to put him in front and he got the better of a lengthy safety battle to win the frame and move to within one at the final interval.

The free-flowing snooker was replaced by scrappy play, but it was no less dramatic. A 40-minute 13th frame was followed by a 14th which lasted 72 minutes.

It had pretty much everything, with it seemingly in Murphy’s grasp following an error from Maguire but he handed the table back when fouling the pink with his left hand.

Later in the frame, Murphy refused to take a free ball as he was not convinced it was one – with sportsmanship standing tall despite the high stakes.

Spectacular fluke from Maguire in tense twelfth frame against Murphy

Maguire had control on the colours, but he could not get over the line and it eventually went Murphy’s way when he knocked in a tight cut on the pink to the yellow pocket and the black to the bottom right to draw level.

After swallowing the bitter pill of losing a 72-minute frame, Maguire had a chance to steady the ship in the 15th but he broke down with his break on 24 and Murphy pounced. He produced two moments of inspiration to seal the frame – a red and green both to the left middle to move in front at 8-7.

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Maguire was rocking on the ropes but a surprise miss from Murphy, who felt a red to the left middle rolled off, allowed him to draw level courtesy of his highest break of the match – a 90.

At his best, Maguire is a heavy scorer who punishes mistakes. He followed up the break of 90 with a run of 82 to move back in front and within one of victory.

Maguire got in first in the 18th and worked a lead of 46, which he built on to secure a stunning win that looked unlikely for much of Sunday evening only for a switch to flick on at the business end.

Crucible debutant Jackson Page showed the biggest stage in snooker holds no terrors as he claimed a 10-7 win over Barry Hawkins.

The Welshman withstood a rally from the No. 9 seed and closed out the match with back-to-back centuries to set up a meeting with one of his fellow countrymen – as he awaits the winner of the clash between Mark Williams and Michael White.

Watch the World Championship and other top snooker live on Eurosport and discovery+.

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