Jak Jones Brushed Aside As Welsh Challenge Ends At Northern Ireland Open

Jak Jones failed to make it past round two in Belfast. Pic: Getty Images.

Jak Jones Brushed Aside As Welsh Challenge Ends At Northern Ireland Open

By Simon Kendal-Williams

There will be no Welsh interest in the 19.com Northern Ireland Open as the tournament enters the last-32 stage.

Only three of the 11 home-based players made it into round two in Belfast – and each was comfortably defeated.

Jak Jones’ hopes of going deep into the tournament were clinically dashed by veteran Anthony Hamilton.

The 48-year-old – a professional for 28 years – swept the Cwmbran player aside 4-0 to set up a last-32 meeting with Andrew Higginson.

Having lost the opener, Jones spurned chances in frames two and three, and was duly punished as Hamilton fired in breaks of 107, 59 and 55.

Jones led on the colours in what proved to be the final frame, only for the world number 55 to come from behind and complete the whitewash.

Matthew Stevens will look back on his 4-1 defeat to Mark Selby knowing he had more than enough chances to knock out the world number six.

The opening frame set the pattern for a match in which neither player hit the heights of the previous round.

A break of 58 appeared to have given Stevens the first frame, but a surprising miss on the penultimate red allowed Selby back in.

An error-strewn dual on the colours eventually saw Stevens get over the line after Selby failed to pot an easy pink.

Selby levelled by taking an equally scrappy second frame, before two moments in the next frame offered a snapshot of Stevens’ frustrations this season.


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Forced to play from the jaws of the green pocket, the 43-year-old potted a superb long red, but so true was his cueing that he inexplicably screwed back too far to the side cushion.

Eschewing an easy safety shot for a difficult quarter-ball cut on the blue to the middle, Stevens miscued over the top of the cue-ball, missing the pot and leaving Selby among the reds.

A break of 87 subsequently gave the ‘Jester from Leicester’ a 2-1 lead.

The final two frames continued in a similar vein, neither player managing to build any further sizeable breaks.

Both struggled to control the cue-ball, though Stevens did appear to suffer more than his fair share of ‘kicks’, especially at key moments.

Victory for Selby means his hopes of winning all four Home Nations titles this season – not to mention the £1million bonus that goes with it – remains intact.

He can expect a tougher test in round three, though, where in-form Luca Brecel lies in wait.

The Belgian rattled off three centuries in a 4-0 win over Matthew Selt and has yet to drop a frame this week at the Waterfront Hall.

The last Welshman standing was teenager Jackson Page, aiming to reach the third round of a ranking event for the first time as a professional.

Having overcome Barry Pinches in round one, the 18-year-old from Ebbw Vale had been eyeing a potential clash with Champion of Champions winner Neil Robertson.

The Australian, though, had suffered a shock defeat at the hands of 36-year-old journeyman Mark Joyce, and the Walsall pro continued his impressive form in running out a 4-2 winner against a lacklustre Page.


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