Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld will face off in the last 16 of the European Darts Matchplay in Innsbruck on Sunday afternoon, after both men recorded comprehensive victories at the Olympiahalle.
Van Gerwen beat Ronny Huybrechts 6-3, averaging 114 as he led 4-0 in the early stages, before Ronny won 3 successive legs to threaten an astonishing fightback. However, the World No 1 regained his focus and won the final two legs to seal a comfortable victory.
Raymond van Barneveld preserved his 100% record over Stephen Bunting, averaging 105.64 to dispatch the Bullet 6-2. Bunting played very well himself, averaging 101.78, but van Barneveld’s power scoring in the early stages of legs proved decisive, as he won 6 out of the last 7 legs to reach the last 16 in just his second European Tour event of 2015.
It should be an absolutely thrilling spectacle. Van Barneveld has won his last two meetings with MvG; winning in Sydney and Auckland during last month’s World Series. Therefore, the 5-time World Champion will be confident he can progress, whilst van Gerwen will be absolutely desperate to avenge these recent defeats.
Elsewhere, David Pallett continued his fantastic form, as he outclassed former World Champion Jelle Klaasen to progress to the last 16. After thrashing Jamie Caven 6-2 last night, Pallett maintained his high level, averaging 104 and hitting 5 180’s en route to a 6-3 triumph.
Nevertheless, Michael Smith, who secured victory in last week’s European Darts Trophy in Muelheim, won’t be repeating this success in Austria, after he was left shocked by an astonishing comeback from former Lakeside finalist Alan Norris.
Smith led 4-0 despite not performing at his optimum level, and appeared in cruise control as Norris was enduring a torrid time on the doubles. The St Helens’ star had the chance to win 6-0, missing darts at D20 in leg 5 and 6, but Norris reduced the arrears in 4-2 and had the momentum.
He then began to score more consistently and was hitting doubles with greater conviction and suddenly, he was 5-4 up. Norris posted a poor leg on throw in leg ten, allowing Smith to break back instantly and throw first in the decider, but Norris held his nerve, hitting D10 to complete a remarkable fightback.
Simon Whitlock’s poor form continues, as he succumbed to Rowby-John Rodriguez for the second week in succession. Rodriguez thrashed Whitlock 6-1 in Muelheim, and Whitlock failed to respond in Innsbruck. The diminutive Austrian showed great composure to close out a 6-3 win, to the delight of the partisan home crowd.
Vincent van der Voort produced a stunning finish to close out his match against Andy Hamilton. Leading 5-3 with Hamilton poised on a double, van der Voort nailed a brilliant 132 finish (Bull, Bull, D16) to set up an intriguing last eight tie against Ian White, a semi-finalist in Muelheim.
Hamilton averaged 104 in beating Dean Winstanley yesterday, but failed to produce such dizzy heights against the Dutchman, averaging 23 points lower than last night’s total, in what proved to be a rather tepid display.
Mervyn King kicked off the evening session with a hard-fought win over the gritty Northern Irishman Mickey Mansell, whilst Peter Wright eased past Darren Johnson 6-2.
Wright was well-below par, averaging just 84, although Johnson endured a nightmare evening, averaging a meagre 72. Nevertheless, Snakebite will have to vastly improve against Benito van de Pas tomorrow, otherwise the party may be stopped prematurely for the Scot.
In the afternoon session, Justin Pipe and Terry Jenkins progressed through tense last-leg deciders against Tony Newell and Kevin Painter respectively. Pipe posted an eye-catching 170 checkout at a critical stage, to set up a clash with Kim Huybrechts tomorrow.
The Belgian eased past Darren Webster 6-2, but was surprisingly critical of his own display, despite averaging 101.62. Kim has been playing well for months now; he is a genuine contender to lift the crown tomorrow.
Brendan Dolan produced the comeback of the session to defeat Mark Walsh 6-5 in a particularly attritional battle. Walsh led 5-1 with both men averaging around the 80 mark; the Hertfordshire man missed three clear darts at D20 for an emphatic 6-1 win, but spurned the opportunities, allowing the Northern Irishman to reel off five successive legs to complete the victory.
Dolan will meet Robert Thornton in the third round, after the Thorn defeated home-hero Maik Langendorf. Thornton appeared in command at 3-1 up, but the Austrian restored parity to concern the Scot. Despite this, the former UK Open Champion regained his form and sealed the win with a 127 finish.
Ian White was given a tough examination by rising star Dimitri van der Bergh in the final match of the afternoon session, as he eventually progressed 6-4. The first four legs were shared, before White’s experience paid dividends.
Elsewhere, Dave Chisnall, who continues to go under the radar, beat the dangerous Irishman Willie O’Connor 6-3 with an average just shy of 100. He’ll face Terry Jenkins for a quarter-final place tomorrow, in what is poised to be a fantastic finale in Innsbruck.
European Darts Matchplay
Saturday September 19
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Benito van de Pas 6-4 Robert Marijanovic
Justin Pipe 6-5 Tony Newell
Dave Chisnall 6-3 William O’Connor
Terry Jenkins 6-5 Kevin Painter
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Mark Walsh
Robert Thornton 6-3 Maik Langendorf
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Darren Webster
Ian White 6-4 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Mervyn King 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Michael Smith 5-6 Alan Norris
Peter Wright 6-2 Darren Johnson
Simon Whitlock 3-6 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Jelle Klaasen 3-6 David Pallett
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Andy Hamilton
Stephen Bunting 2-6 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Ronny Huybrechts
Sunday September 20
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Peter Wright (3) v Benito van de Pas (14)
Dave Chisnall (6) v Terry Jenkins (11)
Justin Pipe (7) v Kim Huybrechts (10)
Alan Norris v Dave Pallett
Ian White (4) v Vincent van der Voort (13)
Brendan Dolan (5) v Robert Thornton (12)
Mervyn King (8) v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Raymond van Barneveld