Priestley opens chase for elusive title in style

Dennis Priestley was in superb form in the Stan James World Matchplay championship, an event he has yet to win, as he recorded a 10-1 victory over Steve Raw in Blackpool yesterday.

Dennis Priestley was in superb form in the Stan James World Matchplay championship, an event he has yet to win, as he recorded a 10-1 victory over Steve Raw in Blackpool yesterday.

The twice former world champion and three-times Matchplay runner-up was in total control of his first-round match and made outs with scores of 128 and 109 on his way to one of the easiest wins of his career.

Raw, the world No 29 from Durham, managed to avoid a whitewash by winning a scrappy 10th leg - but that did not take the gloss off the 50-year-old Yorkshireman's convincing performance. "I'm very pleased with the way things have gone. I played well in the early legs and finished clinically but I let it drop a bit in the last few legs," Priestley said.

He also admitted he had felt sorry for his opponent as he continued to reel off the legs. "I felt really down in the mouth for the poor lad. He wants to be a professional and didn't perform to his normal standards," he said.

Earlier, Bristol's Chris Mason eased into the second round courtesy of a 10-4 victory over the Canadian, Gary Mawson. Mason won five of the first six legs to establish a commanding lead, and a 102 check-out in the eighth leg was the highlight of a comfortable victory for the Irish Masters champion.

In yesterday's other action, Bob Anderson, the former world champion, rediscovered some of his best form with a 10-1 demolition of Newcastle's Graeme Stoddart. Dennis Ovens was a convincing 10-3 winner over Dave Askew in a match in which both players were making their Blackpool debuts.

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