Stephen Hendry swept to the brink of a stunning victory over John Higgins in the World Championship as the reigning champion's defence of his Crucible title looked to have run its course.

On a big day for Scotland in Sheffield, seven-time world champion Hendry won seven out of eight frames on Friday evening to storm 12-4 ahead of four-time winner Higgins in their long-awaited first Crucible meeting.

As Australia's 2010 world champion Neil Robertson became the first player to reach the quarter-finals by beating Tamworth's David Gilbert 13-9 on the other table, Hendry plunged one large boot in the last-eight line-up.

He had six scoring visits as he pulled 6-3 ahead, a 51 break helped him make it 7-3, and after Higgins scraped the 11th frame by doubling in the pink and rolling in the black, the procession continued.

A run of 48 guided Hendry to 8-4, and the frames continued to be frittered away when Higgins missed repeatedly and increasingly waywardly.

It was largely Hendry's own work that brought him the final two frames of the night, as runs of 66 and the closing 83 left Higgins needing to win all nine on Saturday, but surely he is going home.

The winner, presumably Hendry, goes on to face whoever prevails between Joe Perry and Stephen Maguire.

Maguire holds an 11-5 overnight lead, the 31-year-old Glaswegian having won six of eight frames in his second session against Cambridgeshire potter Perry.

Bridgend potter Ryan Day was strongly placed to push on for a place in the quarter-finals for the third time, as he moved 6-2 up on Mark Allen's conqueror Cao Yupeng.

Breaks of 53, 87, 62, 48 and 46 made the difference for the 32-year-old against a player 11 years his junior.