Priestley to roll back the years
The first round may be approaching its conclusion but the quality contests just keep on coming as we are treated to some absolute gems on Wednesday night including what for many will be the highlight of round one.
First up on the mid-week bill is Justin Pipe against the returning Andy Jenkins who will take to the world championship stage for the first time in three years. Rocky had appeared at a world championship in every year from 1995-2010, reaching the semis as recently as 2007 but his form deserted him and his impressive consistency was lost. He seems to be back to an extent though and has a very good record against his opponent at the Ally Pally.
Jenkins has seen off Pipe twice this year on the Pro Tour and also beat him the only time they have met in a major tournament at the 2009 UK Open. Having said this, the 10/3 on a Rocky victory looks a very good price but given Pipe’s form compared to Jenkins’ over the last couple of years it is understandable he is a strong favourite. Jenkins will be competitive and clearly doesn’t have a problem with the Force’s unique style so I expect him to get a set on the board but that to be about it. Pipe 3-1 is 12/5 with Paddy Power and looks a very good price on what is a likely outcome.
The evening’s preliminary match sees Japan’s Haruki Muramatsu facing New Zealand’s Dave Harrington. The man from Japan has experience at the world championships and has twice won a prelim match on this stage before whilst this is Harrington’s debut so Muramatsu looks a safe bet at 4/6 with Ladbrokes.
Then it’s the big one, one for the ages, a clash of venerable veterans of the sport and one that will hopefully live up to this huge billing. Ronnie Baxter taking on Dennis Priestley could have been a contest at any time all the way back to 1991 when they were first both in a world championship and given their longevity it’s surprising they have never met on the biggest stage of all before. After the Menace missed his first world championship in 20 years last year it looked like he might be set for retirement, but he has shown he can still compete with the best in the world with his form on the Pro Tour this year and a strong showing at the UK Open. Priestley in fact beat Baxter just last month in the last 16 of a Pro Tour event so the Rocket knows full well how good his form has been.
It has been a steady year for the Rocket with a win on the Pro Tour in June and a semi-final appearance at the Matchplay being notable highlights but he has got previous in falling at the first hurdle as he proved last year losing in the first round to Steve Farmer. This will be a tight one and Dennis’ matches nearly always seem to go the distance, but given his form his second favourite price of 17/11 with bwin looks a very good one. He’s still got the game and it would be no surprise to see him in the second or even third round of this event.
Following that one may be difficult but the task falls to Colin Lloyd and Darin Young in a repeat of a first round clash from last year. Lloyd won that one 3-1 and that seems a very probably result this time around too. Young has been a regular qualifier for the world championships thanks to the North American Order of Merit, but he has only reached the second round once having beaten the hapless Andy Smith. Lloyd will win this one reasonably comfortably so the price of 11/10 on Jaws with a -1.5 handicap looks quite generous from Boylesports.
Finally on Wednesday we have our first sighting of the Wizard at this year’s world championships as Simon Whitlock takes on the winner of the earlier preliminary match. There won’t be much value to be had from this one as Whitlock will despatch either man with relative ease and a 3-0 win will almost certainly be the result. The Wizard is a genuine contender for this title and neither Muramatsu nor Harrington are anywhere near his class.
Priestley to beat Baxter @ 6/4 with Bet365
Colin Lloyd -1.5 sets @ 11/10 with Boylesports
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