Guild Hall Ready for Final Day of PCGF

Saturday will see the conclusion of the Players Championship Grand Final as a fourth champion will be crowned at the Guild Hall in Preston.

The quarter-finals took place yesterday with three of the four encounters producing expected winners.

However, the opening bout of the day saw a battle of Northern Ireland that surprisingly went the way of the lower ranked Antrim man.

Gerard Greene, originally from Kent but representing Northern Ireland through his Belfast-born parents, shocked Mark Allen 4-2 in a less than pulsating affair.

The 40 year-old’s tactics were to ensure that his opponent stayed out of his comfort zone and so not being able to create any rhythm.

The ploy worked as Allen failed to muster any kind of fluency on the baize throughout, leading to him to appear frustrated at his lack of high-scoring opportunities.

Greene, on the other hand, was happy to take the abundance of small tactics that came his way and was able to dismantle the two-time World Open champion despite only managing a top break of 51 in the opening frame.

The reward for Greene is a semi-final clash with Marco Fu who, funnily enough, was his opponent on the only other occasion he reached the last four of a ranking event in the 2007 Grand Prix.

The pressure is now firmly off Greene having guaranteed his safety inside the top 64 of the money list world rankings, and therefore will be hoping to embark on his maiden final appearance.

Fu, though, has arguably been the player of the week and is certainly the best player of the season of the current final four.

Despite a 111 century from John Higgins in their quarter-final tie, Fu knocked in breaks of 87, 75, 79 and 66 en route to a 4-1 success over the Scot.

The Hong Kong native has already emerged victorious in one ranker this season, the Australian Open in Bendigo, not to mention reaching the final of the International Championship as well.

His form has been reflected in the money list for this lone season, in which Fu lies in the top four.

Fu edged Greene 6-5 in their previous semi-final encounter but many would predict an easier passage for the 36 year-old this time around.

In the bottom half, two former Crucible runners-up go head-to-head for the second spot in the final.

Former world no.1 Judd Trump came through an extremely high-quality contest with Joe Perry 4-2 to rubber stamp his new-found confidence of late.

After going ahead with a break of 89, fellow Englishman Perry compiled consecutive centuries of 133 and 121 to open up a 2-1 advantage.

However, Trump replied in style with runs of 86 and 71 to regain the lead before snatching the sixth frame on the black for a classy victory.

Trump will play Barry Hawkins in the second match on Saturday afternoon after the latter booked his second successive semi-final berth with a 4-1 win over Ronnie O’Sullivan’s conqueror Yu Delu.

Yu was unable to match the level of display he produced against the five-time world champion and breaks of 56, 90 and 60 were more than enough for the ‘Hawk’ to progress in the tournament.

While Fu is a clear favourite in the opening tie, it is much more difficult to predict the outcome of Trump and Hawkins.

Both are arguably competitors who could maybe boast more silverware at this, albeit varying, stage of their careers but one feels Trump may have the slight edge if his devastating scoring ability has finally returned.

Whatever happens, it promises to be an exciting final day in Preston as the third last event of the season reaches its conclusion.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

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