Defending champion Scott Waites kicked off his title defence with a hard-fought victory over Cambridgeshire veteran Dennis Harbour, as Darius Labanauskas, Mark McGeeney and three-time women’s world champion Anastasia Dobromyslova also recorded first-round wins on an entertaining night at the Lakeside Country Club on Tuesday evening.
The sixth seed and reigning champion Waites came through a tough first-round tussle against Dennis Harbour to keep his title defence alive. ‘Scotty 2 Hotty’ averaged 90.54, landed two maximums and took out a pivotal 142 checkout en route to victory, as Harbour was dumped out after averaging 89.28 and landing four maximums.
Harbour made an accomplished start; landing his first maximum and taking out 80 to lead. Waites responded with a 13-dart leveller, but ‘The Harbour Master’ converted a two-dart 96 finish to regain the initiative. However, the defending champion tied the set on D16, before conjuring up a magical 142 finish to steal the set; with Harbour poised on D12.
Harbour responded strongly by registering a 13-dart break early in set two. He couldn’t cement this break however, as Waites levelled on D4 having earlier missed the bullseye for a 161 outshot. ‘Scotty 2 Hotty’ wasn’t scoring at his proficient best but his finishing was clinical and this pattern continued, as he posted 60 and 76 kills to double his lead.
Waites was in control, but the Cambridgeshire veteran continued to battle valiantly. He won a scrappy opening leg in set three via D5, before doubling his tally with a fine 13-darter. Waites prolonged the set by pinning D16, but Harbour fired back with his third maximum and a 68 finish to complete a 14-darter and reduce the arrears to 2-1.
However, Harbour’s fightback was firmly halted by the two-time world champion in set four. The Yorkshire ace landed his second maximum and hit D10 for a 15-dart hold, before defying Dennis’ fourth maximum to convert a second successive 15-darter via D6. Harbour had no response on this occasion, as Waites wrapped up victory inside 13 darts on D16.
In round two Waites will face Mark McGeeney, who reeled off three successive sets to defeat James Hurrell in an entertaining battle. The eleventh seed landed the solitary maximum and averaged 90.96 to record a 3-1 victory, as Hurrell was left to rue his five missed darts for a 2-0 advantage, as his wait for a first Lakeside win continues.
McGeeney opened his account on D10, before Hurrell landed his first maximum and converted an 88 finish to level inside 14 darts. McGeeney then regained the lead with a 13-dart hold, but Hurrell hit his second maximum to square the set, before punishing three missed darts from the eleventh seed to draw first blood via D16.
‘The Gladiator’ responded by breaking Hurrell with a fine 13-darter, before extending his cushion with a regulation 56 checkout. However, ‘HillBilly’ stayed afloat by hitting D3, before wrestling back the initiative with a two-dart 60 kill after McGeeney spurned four more set darts.
Nevertheless, the roles were reversed moments later. Hurrell missed five darts at D18 and D9 respectively to double his lead and McGeeney profited from his opponent’s profligacy; pegging D6 to restore parity at one set apiece.
This galvanised the former British Open winner, as he kicked off set three with a 14-dart hold and then capitalised on a further three missed darts at double to extend his cushion. Hurrell landed a two-dart 83 finish to prolong the set, but the Coventry ace responded with a clinical 86 finish to clinch the set with a stunning 11-darter.
McGeeney took out a nerveless 102 finish to break early in set four, before moving to the brink of victory via tops after Hurrell followed up a brilliant visit of 177 by missing three darts at double. However, the 32-year-old showed real battling qualities to wrestle back the initiative.
The former Finnish Classic winner posted a 13-darter to stay afloat, before breaking via D12 after McGeeney had missed one match dart at D19 for a 118 outshot. McGeeney stole the darts, but spurned a further three match darts, but Hurrell couldn’t capitalise on this occasion, as ‘The Gladiator’ sealed his progression with his sixth match dart.
Eighth seed Darius Labanauskus produced a magnificent display of finishing to record an impressive 3-1 victory over the talented Conan Whitehead. ‘Lucky D’ averaged 91.67, landed two maximums and converted three big ton-plus checkouts to set up a second-round clash with Polish qualifier Krzysztof Ratajski.
Labanauskas clinched the first set without reply. Both players missed a plethora of darts at double in the opening leg, but the Lithuanian eventually pegged D9 to hold.Whitehead landed his first maximum as he attempted to level, but Labanauskas converted a fine 126 checkout on the bullseye to extend his lead, before taking out 41 to wrap up the opener.
Whitehead responded by opening his account on D10 after Labanauskas missed two darts at double for his fourth straight leg. The roles were reversed moments later as ‘The Barbarian’ missed D16 for a 152 and Labanauskus dispatched a two-dart 76 finish to square the second set.
Nevertheless the Gillingham ace remained unperturbed, regaining the initiative with a clinical two-dart 65 kill, before pinning D10 to level up proceedings with a 17-dart break of throw.
The third set saw a wonderful exhibition of finishing from both men. Labanauskas hit the front with an effortless 130 kill for a 12-dart leg, before trumping that with a magnificent 150 outshot (T19, T19, D18). Whitehead pegged a 116 finish of his own to stay in the set, but the Lithuanian fired in his third maximum to clinch the third set in 13 darts.
This seemed to deflate ‘The Barbarian’ and Labanauskas ran riot in set four. He nailed D4 for a 16-darter, before continuing his clinical combination finishing with an 86 checkout culminating on D10. Whitehead squandered four darts at double to stay afloat moments later, as Darius sealed his emphatic progression with a nerveless 74 outshot.
Three-time women’s world champion Anastasia Dobromyslova produced a superb comeback to defeat Rhian Griffiths in a high-quality contest. Anastasia won six of the final seven legs to triumph with an 85.50 average, as Griffiths suffered defeat on her Lakeside debut despite averaging a mightily impressive 86.46.
Griffiths made a sparkling start on her World Championship debut, clinching her opening set at the Lakeside to nil. The Welsh ace won her first leg with a sensational 141 outshot for a 15-darter, before extending her lead on D5 as Dobromyslova missed four darts to hold. Griffiths was scoring superbly and hit D18 to seal the opening set with a 16-darter.
However, the fourth seed responded brilliantly after the break. She registered her first maximum and opened her account, having missed the bull for a 161 earlier in the leg, before extending her cushion with a two-dart 52 kill. Griffiths had the opportunity to prolong the set but failed to convert 81, as the Russian tied up the contest on D4.
The Welsh ace stopped the rot with her first maximum and a 50 checkout to hit the front in set three, but Dobromyslova defied Griffiths’ second maximum to level with a clinical 68 outshot on D16.
Anastasia was throwing with real conviction and produced two top-quality legs to seal her spot in the last eight. She fired in successive 140’s before converting a 61 finish on D8 to break throw inside 15-darts, before hitting the same target in the next-leg to round-off a sublime 13-dart leg to confirm her triumph.
Photo Credit: David Gill
Evening session (1900-2100)
TV Coverage: BT Sport
Mark McGeeney (11) 3-1 James Hurrell
Anastasia Dobromyslova (4) 2-1 Rhian Griffiths
Dennis Labanauskas (8) 3-1 Conan Whitehead
Scott Waites (6) 3-1 Dennis Harbour