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Neil Robertson will reach Finals Weekend of the Premier League by beating Ding Junhui, says Neal Foulds

Neal Foulds Posted 13th November 2012 view comments

Ding Junhui will battle it out with Neil Robertson for the final Premier League semi final spot when the pair meet on Thursday night.

Ding sits second in Group A, behind division winner Stuart Bingham, who has booked his place in the final four, along with Group B's top two, John Higgins and Judd Trump.

Robertson is right on Ding's coattails, though, with only 'frames won' separating the pair; a draw would be enough for Ding to progress, while Robertson must win to reach the Finals Weekend on 24-25 November. It should be a fascinating encounter.

Robertson: the Aussie can snatch a semi-final spot on Thursday

Robertson: the Aussie can snatch a semi-final spot on Thursday

Tune into Sky Sports 3 HD from 7.30pm on Thursday to see the action unfold at Durham's Spennymoor Leisure Centre, but first check out the predictions of Sky Sports expert Neal Foulds...

Ding Junhui v Neil Robertson

Robertson is in a rich vein of form and made the final of the International Championship in China a couple of weeks ago. Only the brilliance of Judd Trump prevented him winning that event and usually when the chips are down he's someone who, in a match-up such as this encounter with Ding, you'd expect to be very strong.

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Robertson has traditionally not played his best snooker in the Premier League, however, he made the semi finals in 2010 and in that edition he reached the final four by winning his final group match - and I wouldn't be surprised to see him repeat that feat.

I was impressed with an interview he did on Sky at the start of this year's Premier League when he said he was really determined to do well in the event. It's one of the few things missing from his CV and he's desperate to add it to his impressive list of wins.

Ding only needs a draw, but I hope he doesn't go into the match with that attitude. He's normally a good player in this format but nowadays I find his game infuriating.

His best form is excellent, while on other days he doesn't look like he's there; he's become wildly inconsistent. He's only a young man but he can't reproduce his best snooker on a regular basis.

He lost to a Chinese player, Cao Xin Long, at the Asian Players Tour Championship event in China last week and I was surprised he lost in the way he did; he looked frustrated.

On that basis, I think Robertson will win and I think he can win comfortably - even 5-1 - to book his place in the semi finals. If you lose the first frame you're under pressure straight away, so Robertson will have to be quick out of the blocks but if he can get off to a good start he can do what's required.

I think there will be a few twists and turns yet in this year's Premier League and Robertson, who has slipped under the radar a little, could even go on and win it if he makes the semis.

John Higgins v Peter Ebdon

I feel a bit sorry for Ebdon. Everyone was saying before the tournament, including myself, that he had no chance in the Premier League - but he won his opening match against Stephen Lee 5-1

Unfortunately that result has been scratched from the records because Lee has since been suspended. Ebdon played well in that game but since then he's been beaten by people around him and found himself bottom of group four.

He's still playing well, though. He got to the semis of the International Championship, where he was hammered by Trump, but before that match he beat Stephen Maguire 6-1 and Ricky Walden 6-0.

Last week we had a dead rubber between Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby and were treated to an attractive match. With the pressure off Murphy was on course for the first-ever 147 under shot clock conditions.

On a 147 run there are normally a couple of shots which require more care and attention but we must be due one and perhaps one of these two will go for it. I'd love to see it happen!

Hopefully this will be another good encounter, despite little riding on it, and I wouldn't be surprised if Ebdon, if he can reproduce his recent form, holds Higgins to a 3-3 draw.

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