The big guns prevailed on an action-packed double-session at the World Matchplay on Sunday, as Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld set up an enthralling second-round showdown at the Winter Gardens.
Anderson, who will sense an opportunity to reach his first Matchplay final after Van Gerwen’s shock opening-round exit, defeated former Lakeside champion Stephen Bunting 10-7 to progress to round two.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ trailed 5-3 at one stage, but he won seven of the remaining nine legs, averaging 96.66 and firing in five maximums. With the scores locked at six apiece, Anderson followed up a 16-dart hold on tops by posting a 177 and hitting D20 once more to complete a 14-dart leg and establish an 8-6 cushion.
Bunting continued to battle valiantly, but his lack of consistency in the scoring department proved his undoing, as the two-time world champion wrapped up a relatively convincing 10-7 success.
The fourth seed will now take on five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld in round two, after the legendary Dutchman fended off a late fightback from Kyle Anderson to prevail 10-6 in a scrappy affair.
‘The Original’ drew first blood with throw, before Van Barneveld reeled off six consecutive legs to seal total control of the contest; firing in 13 and 12-darters along the way. Anderson then won four of the next five legs to reduce the arrears to 7-5, but the thirteenth leg proved critical.
Van Barneveld fired in his fifth maximum to leave 16 after 12 darts, but Anderson missed D19 for a 118 finish which would have reduced the deficit to a solitary leg. However, RvB was solid in the finishing department and closed out victory with a 90.67 average and a 43% checkout conversion rate.
Elsewhere, world champion Rob Cross recovered from 3-1 down to ease past Mervyn King and book his spot in the last 16. ‘Voltage’ crashed in a stunning 153 checkout in the fifth leg and this sparked the turn-around, with King displaying uncharacteristic profligacy in the finishing department.
Cross won six of the next seven legs to establish a 7-4 cushion and although King stayed in contention via D10, the world number three won the remaining three legs in 12, 19 and 14 darts respectively to complete a professional performance; averaging 98.58 in the process.
In the evening’s curtain-raiser, sixth seed Mensur Suljovic secured his first win over Steve Beaton at the ninth attempt to progress to the second-round. Remarkably, ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ had won all eight of the pair’s previous meetings, but clinical finishing from the Austrian pushed him to within a win of his third Matchplay quarter-final.
The Champions League of Darts winner converted finishes of 120, 124 and 112 to storm 6-2 ahead and although Beaton reduced the deficit to 7-4, Suljovic won the next two legs to move to the brink of victory.
‘The Gentle’ then incredibly squandered nine match darts and Beaton capitalised; conjuring up a classy 120 checkout to prolong the contest and stay alive at 9-6. Nevertheless, Suljovic eventually finished the job with a 13-dart leg on D18 to finally overcome the curse of ‘The Adonis’.
However, the afternoon session featured the most dramatic match of the tournament thus far, as fifth seed Daryl Gurney incredibly survived eleven match darts as he edged out Steve West in a pulsating tie-break.
There was very little to separate the pair throughout, but with West leading 8-7, the Waltham Abbey ace produced a 14-dart break of throw to move to within a leg of victory. He then spurned seven match darts and ‘Super-Chin’ gratefully capitalised to send the contest into overtime, after West missed two more darts in the following leg.
West regained the initiative at 10-9 before squandering another match dart as Gurney crashed in a nerveless 92 outshot on the bullseye to stay alive. The world number five then broke throw with a timely 13-darter, before holding his nerve moments later to pin D16, after West had failed to take out 60 and preserve his hopes.
The Northern Irishman will now take on Joe Cullen in round two, after ‘The Rockstar’ secured his first ever Winter Gardens win at the fourth attempt to dismantle a struggling Gerwyn Price. The Welshman has been plagued with injury over the last month and Cullen dominated from the outset.
He stormed into a 5-0 lead at the first interval, before producing a sublime 170 finish to extend his cushion to 7-0. Price averted the whitewash and won three out of the next five legs to gain some respectability, before then squandering two match-saving doubles which enabled the Bradford ace to cruise to a comprehensive 10-3 triumph.
Ian White crashed in eight maximums and produced two ton-plus checkouts to defeat debutant Max Hopp and set up a last 16 showdown against Mensur Suljovic. ‘The Diamond’ trailed 4-3 after a tentative start, before overcoming six missed match darts to claim just his second win over the German in seven attempts.
Finally, Darren Webster will play world champion Rob Cross for a place in the quarter-finals, after ‘The Demolition Man’ disposed of Irish debutant Steve Lennon in the afternoon’s opening tie.
Webster burst into an early 3-0 advantage, but Lennon won four of the next seven legs to reduce the deficit to 6-4 at the second interval. Lennon then drew to within a leg at 7-6, but 50-year-old Webster won three successive legs in a hard-fought finale to seal his progression.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 BetVictor World Matchplay
Schedule of Play
Sunday July 22
Afternoon Session (1pm BST)
Darren Webster 10-6 Steve Lennon
Ian White 10-7 Max Hopp
Joe Cullen 10-3 Gerwyn Price
Daryl Gurney 12-10 Steve West
Evening Session (7.30pm BST)
Mensur Suljovic 10-6 Steve Beaton
Gary Anderson 10-7 Stephen Bunting
Rob Cross 10-5 Mervyn King
Raymond van Barneveld 10-6 Kyle Anderson