Scots and Irish set for pivotal Group D tussle


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Scotland’s World Cup campaign my hinge on their ability to overcome Northern Ireland in their penultimate Group D clash.

The 2015 beaten finalists have been under pressure since losing their opening game 3-2 against Thailand, but the Scots battled past Israel for a 4-1 win on Wednesday.

Four-time world champion John Higgins, who has compiled the highest break of the tournament so far with a 130, and teammate Anthony McGill were not at their best in an often edgy tussle with Israel but they got the job done.

That leaves the Scot on nine points after three games, one behind Northern Ireland and one clear of both Thailand and India in a section that appears destined to go down to the wire.

World number 10 Mark Allen and experienced partner Joe Swail will fancy their chances of a quarter-final berth having edged out Thailand for a 3-2 win – their third straight success.

If the Northern Irish duo can make it four wins on the bounce by condemning Scotland to a second costly defeat, they’ll stand on the brink of the last-eight ahead of their concluding game against Israel.

England’s Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins, the highest ranked pairing in this week’s competition, are firmly on course for the last-eight having dropped just one of 10 frames in winning their first pair of matches against Switzerland and Malta.

The round-robin phase continues to be played until Friday, before the knockouts take place at the weekend.

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