Newton v Thornton: The Warrior's Way
Few would debate the fact that both Wes Newton and Robert Thornton thoroughly deserve their places in the quarter-finals of the UK Open after doing it the hard way to say the least thus far.
Both coming in at the third round stage they at least avoided the troublesome early rounds over a short format, but Thornton was not lucky enough to avoid a former world champion in his opening contest in Mark Webster. He battled to a 9-7 victory though only to be handed a tie with compatriot Gary Anderson, an even tougher challenge, but again one he came through by a two leg margin.
The Thorn might have thought he deserved a bit of luck with the fifth round draw but then came another former world champ in Dennis Priestley. Again though it was the Scotsman who prevailed, surviving an early onslaught from the Menace to fight back and prosper 9-5.
It’s been a while since we have seen this kind of form from the Thorn on the big stage; in fact it’s been almost exactly a year when he reached the last eight of this very tournament, losing out to Webster.
Newton has also had to battle to get to this point, but lived up to his Warrior tag to come through two of the tensest games of the competition thus far. His third round hammering of Shaun Griffiths was routine, but then came the world champ and it needed the world number five to be at his very best to secure a stunning 9-7 win.
Some would have thought that things would be easier from here on in, but even averaging over 99 against Kim Huybrechts he only fell over the line in a thrilling 9-8 win. Wes hung in there when the Belgian was showing perfect finishing skills, and the calmness under pressure in the deciding leg showed why he is set to be a major winner in the not too distant future.
Being last year’s finalist and the much higher ranked player Newton is a strong favourite for victory, but the Thorn has a good record against him winning well over half of the encounters they have had, including the only one on the stage in the 2009 European Championships.
Having said this though I fully expect the Warrior to come through yet another challenge and I can see Thornton falling by the same 10-7 score line that he did last year. Thornton has shown great strength under pressure so far, but I think Newton will just lean on him a bit too much.
Wes Newton (-2.5) to win @ evens with Boylesports
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