Snooker: Shocking finish for sorry Finn

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The Independent Online
ROBIN HULL will be kicking himself all the way back to Helsinki following a pounds 7,000 mistake at the Embassy World Championship qualifying competition in Blackpool yesterday.

The 24-year-old from Finland potted 15 reds, 15 blacks and cleared from yellow to pink for a 140 break in the fifth frame of his runaway 10-0 victory over the Canadian, Tom Finstad.

However, with the pounds 2,000 pre-TV stage prize for the highest break and pounds 5,000 maximum bonus at stake, Hull agonisingly left the final black hanging on the lip of a top pocket. "When the black had gone about a foot off its spot I knew it was heading for the jaws," Hull said. "I composed myself like an idiot towards the end."

It meant that Glasgow's Stephen Maguire, 17, was left in line for the pounds 2,000 cheque following his 144 total clearance against Phaitoon Phonmun, of Thailand, also yesterday.

Meanwhile, Marco Fu, the rising talent from Hong Kong, also wasted no time with a 10-0 whitewash of the Welshman, Gareth Chilcott.

Across the country at the Nations Cup tournament in Newcastle, Mark Williams, beaten in the deciding frame when Wales were knocked out of the 1996 World Cup, yesterday made amends by keeping his country's challenge alive.

Williams, no stranger to tight finishes, having sunk a re- spotted black to edge out Stephen Hendry in this year's Benson & Hedges Masters final, held his nerve to seal a 6-5 Welsh victory over Northern Ireland.

"What happened in Bangkok was on my mind, and I was shaking all over," Williams said, referring to his defeat to Thailand's James Wattana in an equally tense climax to the World Cup quarter-final.

The Welsh must now beat England today to guarantee an appearance in the final.