Northern Ireland Open: O'Sullivan too strong for White as Higgins hits 147

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Jimmy White shake hands before their encounter in Belfast on Wednesday

Ronnie O’Sullivan beat veteran Jimmy White 4-1 at the Northern Ireland Open after John Higgins had earlier notched a maximum 147 in Belfast.

White won frame one against the five-time world champion but O’Sullivan, 40, replied with a 141 break before going on to clinch victory with a run of 95.

O’Sullivan gave White several chances which the 54-year-old could not take.

Higgins’ maximum sealed a 4-1 win over England’s Sam Craigie with the in-form Scot hitting two further centuries.

The big game of the evening session at the Titanic Exhibition Centre was the meeting of great friends O’Sullivan and White, but the match largely failed to ignite despite O’Sullivan’s 141 clearance in frame two.

Helped by a break of 34, which proved to be his highest of the match, White took an error-ridden opening frame before O’Sullivan hit back with his 141 break.

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After several squandered chances from both players in frame three, O’Sullivan eventually moved 2-1 ahead after White missed a straightforward red to the middle.

White lost a 32-point lead in frame four as O’Sullivan produced a break of 68, and his 95 sealed victory in frame five after an inexplicable in off from the veteran.

With White now outside the top 100 in the world rankings, it was the first meeting of the two popular players since the 2010 World Open in China.

“It’s hard playing someone who you are really friends with,” said O’Sullivan.

“I was quite nervous before the match. There was a little bit of hype.”

For his part, White struggled to contain his frustration after a “jabby and slow” display.

“I got a few chances early doors but if you don’t punish Ronnie O’Sullivan, you’ve got no chance,” said White, who last ranking title triumph came at the 2004 Players Championship.

John Higgins

Higgins chasing third title in three weeks

Scottish star Higgins, who will next face China’s Zhou Yuelong in the last 32, is chasing a third title in successive wins after winning the China Championship and Champion of Champions, but said the eighth maximum of his career gave him “the biggest buzz”.

“That adrenaline rush that you can’t replicate [from a 147], even when you are winning matches,” the four-time world champion told Eurosport.

“It’s a dream the way the balls are going in now and I feel really confident in going for my shots.”

World number six Higgins was notching his first maximum since the 2012 UK Championship.

Higgins collected £200,000 for winning in China a fortnight ago and followed that up by beating O’Sullivan 10-7 in the final of the Coventry event last weekend.

In another of Wednesday’s round two matches, Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen came from a frame behind to defeat England’s Michael Georgiou 4-2.

“I didn’t play that well early on but the first chance I had to win the match I made a century. I feel my game is in good shape to compete,” said Allen after his victory.

The Antrim man will play Robin Hull in his third round match.

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