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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Jamie Jones could pose problems for ex-champ Murphy

Magician may need to wave magic wand against qualifier

Jamie Jones looks focused on a previous Crucible visit
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Day two
BBC & Eurosport, Sunday

Allen v Highfield 10am
Masters champion Mark Allen cues off Betfred World Champion­ship day two with a clash against Liam Highfield and while both players are improving, Allen's class and greater experience should help him win the day.

Allen did enough to thwart Kyren Wilson at Alexandra Palace in January. The Northern Irishman's all-round game is clearly stronger these days but Allen, whose old game was based almost wholly on attack, was a serial compiler of high breaks in his early career and it took a superb performance from Judd Trump to deny the Pistol in the 2011 UK Championship final.

Allen is putting more thought into his game these days, but that slightly more cautious approach could afford chances to Highfield, a capable performer in his own right, to at least keep the distance between him­self and his opponent respectable.

Recommendation
Over 15.5 frames
1pt 8-13 Hills


Murphy v Jamie Jones 2.30pm
The fact that Shaun Murphy leads Jamie Jones 5-4 in their personal series tells you this is no gimme for the Magician.

Murphy is good enough to add to his 2005 world title, but while he deserves credit in his bid to up his level this season – an effort that helped him to defeat Ronnie O'Sullivan in the final of the Champion of Champions in November – this clash is more about what Jones brings to the Crucible table this year.

The Neath cueman was hugely impressive in racking up runs of consecutive frame wins against Craig Steadman (10-5 from 3-5 down), Yu De Lu (10-7 having been 9-1) and Liang Wenbo (10-0) in the qualifiers last week and a repeat of that focus, form and determination could push Murphy out of his comfort zone.

Jones, who beat Murphy 10-8 on the way to reaching the quarter-finals of the 2012 World Championship, can be backed to upset the favourite but don't miss the chance to back the outsider at decent odds-on quotes with a start of 3.5 frames.

Recommendation
Jamie Jones +3.5 frames
3pts 4-5 Betfred


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Jones racked up runs of consecutive frame wins against Steadman (10-5 from 3-5 down), De Lu (10-7 having been 9-1) and Wenbo (10-0) in the qualifiers
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