Raymond van Barneveld eased past highly-fancied Kiwi Cody Harris in the first-round of the Auckland Darts Masters, whilst Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson both fired in 106 averages, as all eight Oceanic representatives suffered defeat at the Trusts Arena on Friday.
Van Barneveld, a runner-up at last year’s Auckland Darts Masters, dispelled any talk of an upset with a dominant display against Harris. The five-time world champion averaged 97.36 and hit four maximums, whilst he missed four match darts for a 6-0 whitewash.
Harris missed the bull to clinch the opening leg and Barney finished on D8 to lead, before the 49-year-old hit his first maximum and converted a 64 finish to double his advantage. The Dutchman then fired in an 11-darter to extend his cushion, before registering his third maximum en route to a 4-0 cushion.
Van Barneveld hit tops to complete a 64 finish to lead 5-0, but the Den Haag star missed four match darts in the sixth leg, and Harris opened his account on tops.
Barney posted his fourth maximum to kick off the seventh leg, but Harris doubled his tally by following up his first 180 with a sublime 12-darter. Nevertheless, this was not to be the start of a historic fightback. Raymond pounced on an indifferent leg from his Oceanic opponent and converted a 72 checkout to complete a comprehensive win.
However, the performance of the night was delivered by world champion Gary Anderson, who averaged 106.61 in demolishing Bernie Smith 6-2. Anderson finished magnificently, missing just two darts at double in the entire match.
The number one seed stormed into a commanding 2-0 advantage thanks to successive 13-darters, before winning a third straight leg on D18. Smith fired in his first maximum and finished D4 to open his account, but Anderson re-established his three-leg cushion with a clinical 106 finish.
Anderson converted tops for the second successive leg to move within a leg of victory, but Smith remained in contention after breaking the Scot with a fine 86 checkout. However, Smith’s hopes of a comeback were quashed moments later, as Ando followed a majestic 171 with a brilliant 94 finish to cap off an impressive display.
Anderson will face his compatriot Peter Wright in the last eight tomorrow, after Wright eased past New Zealand’s World Cup representative Warren Parry 6-1. Snakebite averaged 96 and registered finishes of 80, 96 and 64 to breeze past the experienced Kiwi.
Phil Taylor continued his fine form with an imperious whitewash victory over Rob Szabo. Taylor averaged 106.09 and missed D12 for a 9-darter, to ease past the experienced Kiwi. Szabo squandered opportunities at doubles in both of the opening two legs, before Taylor missed D12 for a spectacular 9-darter in the third leg.
Taylor clinched the third leg in 11 darts and never looked back. He hit tops for a 4-0 advantage, before moving to the brink of victory with D19; having missed the same bed for a 155 outshot in the preceding visit. However, the Stoke star then fired in a magnificent 177 en-route to a 13-darter which clinched his quarter-final spot.
Taylor will face his fellow Stoke star and defending champion Adrian Lewis in the last eight, after Jackpot also prevailed by virtue of a whitewash win against debutant Stuart Leach. Leach had won three of the four qualifying events for this tournament, but could only muster a 78 average against the two-time world champion.
Lewis wasn’t at his explosive best, averaging 95.94 to seal an emphatic progression to round-two. Adrian’s finishing was the most impressive element of his performance, as he converted finishes of 132, 75 and 74 to whitewash the DPA singles champion.
Elsewhere, world number one Michael van Gerwen came through a nervy encounter against Damon Heta to set up a quarter-final clash against James Wade. Van Gerwen averaged 100.6 and hit six maximums to complete a hard-fought victory over his dogged Oceanic opponent.
Heta certainly gave ‘The Green Machine’ a minor scare, as the pair were locked at three-apiece at one stage. However, Van Gerwen upped the ante considerably in the closing stages, claiming victory with just the solitary break of throw.
He hit his third 180 and converted D12 to lead 4-3, before reeling off back-to-back maximums to complete a 12-darter for a crucial break. The Dutchman continued his fine scoring in the ninth leg, landing his sixth maximum and pinning D8 to come through a gruelling tussle.
Van Gerwen will continue his bid for a maiden Auckland title against eight-time major winner James Wade on Saturday. ‘The Machine’ prevailed 6-2 against debutant Ken Moir in a scrappy affair, with Wade averaging just 89.
Wade’s scoring was rather modest, but he finished superbly throughout the contest. He hit his first five darts at double, but his perfect ratio was ended after missing match darts in the eighth leg. Wade took out finishes of 100, 62, 102, 96 and 55 to seal victory, and he’ll need to replicate this clinical display against MvG tomorrow.
Finally, Dave Chisnall suffered a major scare against Tic Bridge, coming from 4-3 down to avoid a huge upset. Chisnall romped into a 2-0 lead, but double-trouble then ensued for Chizzy, as Bridge won four of the next five legs to seize the initiative.
However, Chisnall responded impressively. He broke back immediately in the eighth leg by taking out 83 for a 14-darter and then regained the lead on D18. Chisnall then produced his best leg of the match to secure victory, hitting tops for an 11-darter, setting up a quarter-final showdown against Raymond van Barneveld.
Auckland Darts Masters, presented by TAB and Burger King
Friday June 17
James Wade 6-2 Ken Moir
Adrian Lewis 6-0 Stuart Leach
Peter Wright 6-1 Warren Parry
Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Cody Harris
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Clinton Bridge
Phil Taylor 6-0 Rob Szabo
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Damon Heta
Gary Anderson 6-2 Bernie Smith
Best of 11 legs
Saturday June 18 (7pm)
Dave Chisnall v Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson v Peter Wright
Phil Taylor v Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Best of 19 legs