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Snooker ace Neil Robertson pays tribute to cricketer Philip Hughes


Neil Robertson

Neil Robertson

Neil Robertson

Neil Robertson paid a poignant tribute to fellow Australian Phillip Hughes before battling back from the brink of defeat to stay in the hunt at the Coral UK Championship.

The 32-year-old, a big cricket fan who enjoyed making an unprecedented century of centuries on the baize last season, brought out a bat along with his cue for the York Barbican Centre second-round clash with Kyren Wilson.

Melbourne-born Robertson was joining in the appreciation of Hughes which has come from around the world of sport since the batsman's death on Thursday.

The bat stayed out in the arena with defending champion Robertson, who at one stage looked to be heading out of the tournament but scraped a 6-5 win.

Robertson fell 5-4 behind when Wilson made 87 in the ninth frame, and when the 22-year-old English potter fluked the final red in the next he had a clear match-winning opportunity.

Yet Wilson fluffed a crucial positional shot from green to brown, and a relieved Robertson was able to pot brown and blue to force the decider.

Wilson had the first chance of the all-important 11th frame, but missed a tricky red and left a half-decent chance. Robertson rattled in an 86 break to secure a pass to the third round.

Earlier, Mark Allen played brutal hardball as he swatted aside Belgian teenager Luca Brecel. The 28-year-old Northern Irishman, runner-up in York three years ago, beat Brecel 6-0 to reach the last-32 stage.

Allen has been a beaten finalist in the Shanghai Masters and International Championship already this season and has his sights set on a major prize, which is why he did not want to give 19-year-old Brecel the slightest chance of an upset.

"I had a game plan to not take on any silly shots against Luca," Allen said. "He's not the sort of player you want to let build up confidence. He's a very streaky player and I knew if he got a few frames on the board he'd be hard to stop."

Recent International Championship winner Ricky Walden narrowly avoided becoming victim of a second major upset of the day.

Englishman Walden earned £125,000 for his triumph in Chengdu, his third ranking title in China, but he was in trouble in York against Wallasey potter Robbie Williams who led 5-4 and was in front in the 10th frame.

However, Walden was allowed back to the table, levelled the match and eventually claimed a 6-5 win to join the last-32 line-up.

Barry Hawkins, the 2013 World Championship runner-up, appeared to be cruising to victory when he took a 5-0 lead against veteran Nigel Bond.

But the 49-year-old, whose career highlight came when he finished runner-up to Stephen Hendry in the 1995 World Championship, launched an astonishing comeback as Hawkins faltered.

Breaks of 116 and 52 helped Bond draw level before he then took the final frame to seal a memorable 6-5 victory.

Other winners yesterday included Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon.