Snooker - O’Sullivan leads Trump despite 'obscene gesture' warning

Ronnie O’Sullivan stretched his World Championship semi-final lead over Judd Trump to 14-10 despite a referee's ticking off.

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Snooker - O’Sullivan leads Trump despite 'obscene gesture' warning
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Ronnie O'Sullivan takes on Judd Trump in the World Championship semi-final (Getty)

A gripping evening session had almost everything including a century break, superb safety, alleged obscene gestures and a threat from O’Sullivan to go home. The result leaves O'Sullivan three frames from a final against Ricky Walden or Barry Hawkins as he bids for his fifth Crucible title.

Two scoring breaks without reply proved enough for O’Sullivan to take the opener before a nervy second followed. Trump looked set to level the evening session on his first visit but a missed black on 31 let O’Sullivan in. With the frame seemingly in the bag, O’Sullivan missed the penultimate red but Trump again let him back in with a twitch on the final blue and Ronnie made no mistake at the second time of asking.

Trump needed to win the next and he did so in style, rattling in a fluid 117 clearance - comfortably his highest break of the match.

The Bristolian looked to be in the box seat in the next until a careless foul on the yellow with the rest let O’Sullivan in for a frame winning contribution to stretch his lead to four frames. Trump looked dismayed at his mistake and tweeted so at the break that he was making ‘too many schoolboy errors’. Certainly not the kind of ‘naughty snooker’ he was banking on.

Both players had chances in the first frame after the mid-session interval but O’Sullivan held his nerve as the frame went down to the deciding three balls to pull further clear. Despite some distractions by dome over exuberant O’Sullivan fans in the next, Trump responded with a gutsy 60 despite a miss on the yellow and a failed snooker escape.

The pressure beginning to tell, both players missed balls in an unusually scrappy 23rd frame and things began to get fractious when referee Michaela Tabb reprimanded O'Sullivan, saying: "Don't make obscene gestures again, OK?"

O’Sullivan merely said he was wiping something off his cue before joking "I want to go home". But it seemed to unsettle him and Trump pulled another back after the longest frame of the match.

After that lapse, the old Ronnie O’Sullivan may have lost the plot in the final frame and followed through with his threat of going home but he put the incident to the back of his mind to knock in a break of 89 to take a four frame lead into Saturday.

SECOND SESSION REPORT

Ronnie O’Sullivan had the better of the second session of his semi-final encounter against Judd Trump to lead 9-7 going into Friday's evening session.

The pair were locked at 4-4 going into the day and Trump was first amongst the balls in the opener but a missed pink to the middle that appeared to veer off at the last minute to let O’Sullivan in for a frame-winning clearance of 90.

Another miss to the same middle pocket for Trump, this time on a red with his break on 35, appeared to give O’Sullivan the impetus to stretch two clear but an easy missed red to the corner allowed Trump to level matters once more. O’Sullivan edged a tense and scrappy third with both players missing easy balls by their own high standards and the see-saw battle continued as Trump levelled at 6-6 after O’Sullivan again squandered chances to pull away.

O’Sullivan was first amongst the balls in the next but a loose positional shot and poor safety let in Trump for a 41 before he ran out of position on the pink. But O’Sullivan missed two good chances, the second a tough red on the top rail as Trump levelled once more.

A careless miss on the pink from Trump with his break on 31 proved costly in frame 13, O’Sullivan potting a superb red off the baulk rail en route to the frame. It appeared as though nerves were beginning to affect the younger player, a big twitch on a straight red letting O’Sullivan in for a frame-winning 93 break, only a simple missed yellow denying him the chance to close to within one century of Stephen Hendry’s Crucible record of 124.

A 60 break proved enough for O’Sullivan to pull three clear at 9-6 but Trump edged a tense final frame of the session lasting half an hour, potting the blue and pink he needed to pull back to within two frames.

FIRST SESSION REPORT

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump are tied at 4-4 after the opening session of their World Championship semi-final at the Crucible.

O’Sullivan used up considerably less energy than his last-four opponent at the quarter-final stage, brushing aside Stuart Bingham 13-4 whilst Trump snatched the deciding frame in a 13-12 match of the tournament so far against Shaun Murphy.

But though O’Sullivan drew first blood with a break of 65 to win the opening frame, Trump proved he had plenty of resolve remaining by levelling up via re-spotted black in the engrossing second.

The 2011 Crucible runner-up soon paid the price for a number of rashly-judged shots as the four-times champion used compiled breaks of 40 and 34 to stave off Trump’s futile quest for snookers at the end of frame three, before a polished 75 put O’Sullivan 3-1 up going into the mid-session interval.

The 15-minute break did little to halt the momentum of ‘The Rocket’ as he pounced on an unfortunate Trump in-off at the start of frame five, dropping in the session’s best knock of 89 for a three-frame lead.

But, as fate would have it, O’Sullivan then went in-off himself at the start of the very next frame and 50 was enough for Trump to pull a frame back for 4-2 before a 56 break with one of many fantastic reds followed by a deft snooker to pave the way for a frame-winning clearance.

Trump finally had the momentum with him as the last frame of the session began with a lengthy battle of safety exchanges, but while both men were clinical in keeping opportunities for the other at a premium, it was O’Sullivan who paid the price after stumbling on a break of 40.

A shockingly poor safety attempt at 40-0 gave Trump the chance to unleash his best cueing of the semi-final so far, and his 72 break took him beyond reach on the final colour trail to bring him all square from three down.

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