Northern Ireland Open final: Holder Trump defeats O'Sullivan in thrilling decider

Judd Trump
Judd Trump has won back-to-back NI Open titles

Judd Trump has successfully defended his Northern Ireland Open title with a 9-7 win over Ronnie O'Sullivan in a thrilling final in Belfast.

The world number one led from the start and was never behind in a match full of high-quality snooker from both players.

A break of 84 in the 16th frame sealed the victory for Trump, who beat John Higgins in the semi-final.

The result was a repeat of last year's NI Open decider at the Waterfront Hall.

"It feels amazing to win again," Trump told Eurosport.

"To defend any title is always difficult but to do it against Ronnie is extra special. The game was free-flowing, we were both scoring heavily and I think it was good to watch as well.

"I knew it was important to get a good start against him because anyone who goes behind to him can just get steamrolled.

"I have to up my game every time I play Ronnie to have a chance. The fans in Belfast were amazing once again, as they were last year."

Trump and O'Sullivan also contested the 2018 NI Open final
Trump and O'Sullivan also contested the 2018 NI Open final

England's Trump made a fantastic start, winning the first two frames.

O'Sullivan responded with a break of 126 to claim the third frame but Judd then got his first century of the game. with a 123, to go 3-1 clear.

Last year's beaten finalist took a topsy-turvy fifth frame but he missed with an ambitious red in the sixth to allow Trump to go into a 4-2 lead with two half-centuries.

Trump looked on course for a 147 clearance before his break ended at 88, but it was enough to open up a three-frame margin for the first time in the match.

O'Sullivan prevented the gap stretching to four by winning the eighth frame to go into the afternoon break 5-3 down, and won the first frame of the evening session.

The holder responded well with back-to-back centuries to take a 7-4 lead, but O'Sullivan won two in a row to reduce the margin to one frame again.

An impressive 124 from Trump gave him an 8-6 lead and, while O'Sullivan pulled one back with his second century of the match, Trump held his nerve with an 84 to win 9-7.