Take up our Black Friday offer to make sure you don't miss a minute of Eurosport's snooker coverage in 2021

Judd Trump edged Ronnie O’Sullivan to clinch a hat-trick of Northern Ireland Open titles – beating the Rocket 9-7 in the final for the third consecutive year.

Northern Ireland Open
A 147, mid-match fart and O’Sullivan refusing to stop: The best of the Northern Ireland Open
23/11/2020 AT 18:07

The defending champion held a 5-3 lead heading into the evening session and looked to be cruising to victory after quickly opening up a four-frame advantage.

But O’Sullivan rallied to earn 7-5 and then 8-7 to hint at an improbable comeback, only for Trump to trample on those hopes as a fine 89 break got him over the line.

Final shots as Trump wins 19th ranking event

"I was sat there 8-5 up, thinking ‘I must get a chance to win’," Trump told Eurosport afterwards.

"And then it’s 8-7 and he's 30 in front, and I’m thinking ‘oh god, I might lose here without potting a ball’."

The contest looked a formality after knocks of 89 and 55 helped Trump open up a 7-3 lead in Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena, which was the unusual host for the event due to Covid-19 restrictions.

In fact, the main talking point was O’Sullivan’s bizarre tactics as he repeatedly played on with the frame lost – happy to pot balls even though the scoreboard was never going to spin in his favour.

'Give me my £1 million!' - Trump on Home Nations bonus being axed

But it appeared a masterstroke as 7-3 became 7-5 before the mid-session interval, O’Sullivan finishing with a timely 63.

Trump returned from the stoppage with renewed vigour and duly posted a break of 115 – which could have been higher but for a botched cue ball off the black with the colours remaining – to restore a three-frame lead.

But O’Sullivan wasn’t finished. He flirted with a century of his own as a break of 93 extended the match, before getting amongst the balls at 8-6 by arrowing a red into the right-middle pocket. He banked a break of 74 and suddenly there was just one frame in it.

However, Trump is familiar with winning this event 9-7, and against this opponent too, and after an early nervous miss, he returned to the table to clean up with a tidy knock to the final pink.

‘I’ll do it for the rest of my career’ – O’Sullivan on playing dead frames

AFTERNOON SESSION REPORT

Trump leads world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan 5-3 at the end of a tense afternoon session.

The defending champion has been playing some fine snooker in the highly-anticipated clash between two greats of the sport.

The session began with a poor safety from O'Sullivan, gifting Trump the opportunity to jab in a long blue into the yellow pocket. The reigning champion then pocketed the pink to secure a cagey first frame.

‘I will never understand O’Sullivan’s decision there’ – Foulds questions putting Trump back in

A bizarre second frame saw O'Sullivan elect to give Trump a second run at swerving the cue ball around the black to pot a red hanging over the pocket, with the two-time defending champion obliging, before the Rocket played on despite needing six snookers.

With the session seemingly slipping away, O'Sullivan produced a sensational fluke in the third which finally got the 44-year-old on the scoreboard. He missed a green to the bottom left by a mile, but watched it go off four cushions and then drop into the left middle before he added the brown, and a difficult cut on a blue.

Trump took a 3-1 lead with a break of 69 before returning after the interval to pocket a crucial pink and deepen O'Sullivan's problems in the fifth.

O'Sullivan desperately needed the sixth and he dug deep as he pocketed a brilliant red to keep him within touching distance, but Trump restored his three-frame advantage in style with a clinical break of 128.

The Rocket finished up by reducing the arrears to two with a 137 clearance - his sixth century of the tournament and a much-needed break heading into Sunday's evening session.

O’Sullivan plays on despite needing six snookers

Northern Ireland Open
'I don’t practise much' - O’Sullivan on dragging out dead frames
22/11/2020 AT 22:33
Northern Ireland Open
Northern Ireland Open final LIVE – Trump beats O’Sullivan again
22/11/2020 AT 17:47