By Chris Bailey, Sportsbeat
DOMINIC Dale is on the verge of bowing out of this year’s World Snooker Championship as Barry Hawkins swooped into a 11-5 lead after two sessions.
Stroud-based Dale, competing in his first Crucible quarter-final for 14 years, could post little response as Hawkins needs just two more frames in this afternoon’s (Wednesday) final session to clinch victory.
Hawkins reached the final in Sheffield last year and proved he is world No.4 for a reason early on in the opening session, building a break of 68 to snare the opening frame.
Dale then spurned a glorious opportunity, totting up 31 before running out of position – allowing Hawkins back in to snatch a further frame with runs of 63 and 28.
The pair continued to score in chunks in a fast-paced contest, world No.24 Dale hitting back in two visits of 33 and 36 to put himself on the scoreboard at the Crucible.
However Hawkins, who won the PTC Grand Finals last month, continue to build an imposing lead either side of the mid-session interval with 78 and 81 breaks respectively.
Dale then nosed a scrappy encounter – Hawkins fouling twice on the cue ball – but once more failed to capitalise in the penultimate frame after an opening break of 47.
Hawkins then soared to a stunning 134 to wrap up the morning’s play – but Dale initially started the evening full of promise, running in 69 to reduce the arrears to three.
But Hawkins again counter-punched, making the most of his chances in low-scoring visits as Dale struggled to reach double figures on his turns.
And the world No.4 continued to up the tempo with contributions of 92 and 88, as Dale hung in there by edging a lengthy frame in between.
A break of 61 – his highest of the night – brought Dale back to within five but arguably the Welshman needed the evening’s final frame to retain any hope of a first-ever Crucible semi-final appearance.
And he was on the cusp of doing so after sinking an opening 53 – only to run out of position and allow Hawkins to clear up for 67, and in all likelihood, the match.
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