Andy Hamilton and David Pallett were the stars on an action-packed opening day of the European Darts Matchplay in Innsbruck. Hamilton averaged 104 in beating an impressive Dean Winstanley 6-3, whilst David Pallett hit six 180’s and averaged 100 in his 6-2 demolition of Jamie Caven.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld gained revenge on Max Hopp for his defeat in Muelheim last week; the 5 time World-Champ averaged 98 in beating the young German 6-3. There were also first-round wins for Rowby-John Rodriguez, Mickey Mansell, Alan Norris, Kevin Painter and Ronny Huybrechts.
The opening session was rather underwhelming in terms of quality; there was only one average over 90 in the first eight matches. Rowby-John Rodriguez averaged 92.87 in his 6-3 win over Stefan Stoyke, but the vast majority of the early contests were somewhat attritional.
However, Mark Walsh secured a morale boosting victory over Joe Murnan in a tense last-leg decider. Murnan was profligate on the doubles, hitting just five out of 18 attempts, to hand the Hertfordshire man a crucial win.
By his own admission, he has been devoid of confidence over the last 18 months or so, but he maintains that he is gradually rebuilding his confidence.
In the evening session, Gerwyn Price suffered another surprise European Tour exit. Price was thrashed by Andy Jenkins 6-1 in Muelheim, and was edged out by a tenacious William O’Connor in Innsbruck. Price averaged just 85 in his 6-4 loss and given his phenomenal World Matchplay, where he established himself as a genuine force; his disappointing recent performances will come as a surprise to many.
Dean Winstanley averaged 103 and produced one of his best performances in recent years, but he was still unable to overcome a resurgent Andy Hamilton. Winstanley hit six 140’s and four 180’s, but Hamilton’s consistency and relentless scoring paid dividends. The Hammer will face Vincent van der Voort in the last 32 tomorrow, and on tonight’s basis, the Dutchman will have to perform at his very best.
David Pallett thrashed Jamie Caven to set up an enthralling 2nd round clash against Jelle Klaasen. Given both players’ preferences for unorthodox finishing routes, the spotters will be viewing that encounter with some trepidation. Pallett stormed into a 3-0 lead, but to Caven’s credit, he continued to battle valiantly, but he was second-best from the outset.
Kevin Painter built upon his positive performance in Muelheim last week to beat Roxy-James Rodriguez, Rowby’s younger brother, to progress to round two. Painter wasn’t at his best, but he was always in control and played well within himself. He will face fellow veteran Terry Jenkins in the last 32 in what will inevitably be a high-quality contest.
Ronny Huybrechts edged out Wes Newton 6-5 in a topsy-turvy contest. Ronny established a 3-0 lead after Newton opted against going for the bull with the Belgian on 121, but the Warrior was punished, as Huybrechts nailed the bull with his final dart.
He then lead 4-0 and 5-1 and appeared on the cusp of an emphatic triumph, but after missing six match darts to close out a 6-4 victory, Newton broke and had the throw in the decider. However, Huybrechts demonstrated impressive fortitude after losing his composure moments earlier, hitting a 108 finish to win the match.
Home favourite Mensur Suljovic failed to deliver, as Darren Webster defied a partisan Austrian crowd to beat Suljovic 6-2. Webster is certainly very capable, but given Suljovic’s consistency on the tour in 2015, this was a slight surprise. Webster reeled off four consecutive legs to beat the ‘Gentle Giant’ and set up a 2nd round clash against Kim Huybrechts.
In the final match of Friday’s marathon session, Raymond van Barneveld secured his first European Tour victory of 2015, beating German No. 1 Max Hopp 6-3.
Van Barneveld led from the outset and although Hopp threatened a fightback with a 12-darter to reduce the score-line to 4-3. Van Barneveld took out a crucial 64 finish with his final dart to move one leg away from round-two, before hitting D16 for a 13-darter to confirm victory. RvB averaged 98 but was clinical on the doubles, hitting 6/9 on the outer segments.
Given van Barneveld’s precarious ranking position, this was an important win for the Dutchman who will be hopeful of a strong run this weekend. Nevertheless, he will face fellow Premier League star Stephen Bunting for a place in the last 16.
Stefan Stoyke 3-6 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Zoran Lerchbacher 1-6 Darren Johnson
Tony Newell 6-3 Terry Temple
Joe Murnan 5-6 Mark Walsh
Robert Marijanovic 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Mickey Mansell 6-3 Adam Hunt
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-2 Paul Milford
Armin Glanzer 2-6 Alan Norris
William O’Connor 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Dean Winstanley 3-6 Andy Hamilton
Roxy-James Rodriguez 3 -6 Kevin Painter
Maik Langendorf 6-5 Aaron Hardy
David Pallett 6-2 Jamie Caven
Ronny Huybrechts 6-5 Wes Newton
Mensur Suljovic 2-6 Darren Webster
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Max Hopp