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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 22:20 GMT 23:20 UK
Higgins eases through
By Clive Jones
BBC Sport at The Crucible

John Higgins
Higgins was pushed all the way
John Higgins ended a brave challenge from Ian McCulloch as he won 10-7 to claim a place in the second round at The Crucible.

Higgins started with a 6-3 lead but it was McCulloch who took the first frame of the evening to narrow the gap.

McCulloch then hit breaks of 94 and 70 to stay in touch at 8-6 before Higgins produced a century in the 15th frame to put him within sight of victory.

McCulloch responded with a century of his own in the next, but it was in vain as the number four seed clinched the match in the 17th.

Higgins was full of praise for his opponent after atesting encounter.

There is no shame in running John that close that The Crucible because he is a great player
Ian McCulloch

"Ian is a really good player and is definitely ging places in the game," said the fourth seed.

"I'm delighted to go through. I had a three or four frame burst to get me back in the game, and that was probably the difference in the end.

"I won't be taking Sean Storey lightly in the next round. He's had a fantastic season and is a real danger."

McCulloch was not downcast after giving Higgins a run for his money.

"It was just a really good match to be involved in," said the Englishman.

"I've played a lot worse than that this year and won. There is no shame in running John that close that The Crucible because he is a great player."

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