Japanese Duo End Host Nation Hopes
The host nation billiards team Holland A, consisting of Niels Feijen and Nick Van Den Berg, were once again backed by a capacity crowd at the Outland Nightclub in Rotterdam, Holland as they faced off against Japan in their second round match. Satoshi Kawabata won the lag for Japan and his partner Naoyuki Oi downed three balls off the break. From there, they completed a comfortable run out to draw first blood.
Another quality break created an easy lay out for the Japanese and they took full advantage to increase their lead to 2-0.
In the third game, Kawabata ran out of position going from the 2 to the 4 and snookered his partner. The consequent escape saw the Japanese scratch to give Holland their first crack at the table.
With ball in hand, the Ducth duo of Niels Feijen and Nick Van Den Berg looked composed as they ran through the table to open their account.
The brown 7 went down off Feijen’s break shot and van den Berg played a classy bank shot to drop the 1 ball. The 2 ball was straight in, followed a 2/5 combo into the corner bag. The remaining balls were all out in the open and the Dutch cleared to level it at 2-2.
A cut break from van den Berg saw three balls drop. The two was available down table but Feijen played a shot to nothing, hooking the Japanese and leaving a one rail escape.
They failed to make contact to give the Dutch ball in hand. They made no mistakes as they ran out to take the lead for the first time.
With no pot on the lowest ball, van den Berg played safe, forcing Oi to take out his jump cue. He hit the green 6 first to give another ball in hand to Holland. Looking like a relaxed practice session, the dynamic Dutch duo cleared up to increase their lead to two racks.
The travel from the 1 ball to the 2 was tough so Feijen gave his partner the chance to hook their opponents. Kawabata escaped but left the 2 out in the open. The Dutch looked good for another rack but Feijen inexplicably twiched on a straight 9 ball, cueing off the rail.
The Japanese grabbed the opportunity to reduce the deficit.
There was yet another ball in hand for Holland as Oi lost the cueball and Kawabata scratched trying to play safe on the 1 ball.
Things once again went awry for Feijen as he lost concentration on a simple 6 ball. The balls fell perfectly for Japan and they downed the 6 and then the 9 ball to take the rack and level the match.
A big break from Oi saw three balls go down but the cue ball went uptable and Kawabata was forced to play safe on the blue 2. Amazingly he scratched once again. Van den Berg had no shot on the 2 ball apart from a long shot 2/9 combo which he missed.
Oi took on the two ball and made it but the position was lost. Oi revived the situation with a good pit on the 6 ball, gaining good shape on the 7.
The rest of the rack was a formality as Japan regained the lead at 5-4.
Oi, who looks a real quality player, layed a dastardly snooker for Feijen but the Dutchman was equal to it as he jumped a line of balls to pocket the 1 ball.
Van den Berg played an equally good shot to pocket the 2 ball. The out wasn’t easy but a succession of good pots sealed the rack for Team Holland and level it.
Things looked good for another Dutch rack but van den Berg mised a relatively easy 5 ball into the top corner pocket.
Team Japan, sensing their chances, completed the three ball run out to take the lead at 6-5.
Kawabata could only laugh as he hugely over ran the cue ball and put it behind the 9 ball. Oi could just about see it and had a go but missed badly.
Feijen took the time out and then made a great long pot to deposit the 2 ball. Nerves were now creeping but Feijen and van den Berg hung onto theirs to clear up and level the score at 6-6.
Dutch hopes were raised in the next as they got back to the table and Feijen stole the rack with a carom off the 6 ball onto the 9 to get to the hill at 7-6.
A push out was called in the next as two balls stood between the white and the 2 ball. Feijen pushed the cue bal down table and the Japanese refused it.
Van den Berg played a good safety as Kawabata took out his jump stick. He missed the pot on the blue 2 but completely snookered the Dutch as the cue ball ended up behind a pack of balls.
Feijen made contact and the consequences were none too damaging for the Dutch. More safety followed and it was Holland who cracked first as van den Berg’s jump shot hit the wrong ball first.
The 5 to the 6 was the big shot for Kawabata and he played it well to set up the rack for Team Japan and take the match to hill-hill.
A great break under pressure from Oi spread the balls out and left their fate in their own hands. An awkward shot on the 6 ball cueing off the rail was a real nerve tester for Oi but the happy-go-lucky Japanese pulled it off and set up a straight forward run out to take a magnificent match 8-7.