Phil Taylor defeated 13-year-old sensation Leighton Bennett 10-7 in an extraordinary exhibition match staged at the iconic Tower of London on Tuesday evening.
The 16-time world champion took on reigning BDO World Youth champion Bennett in a best of 19 legs exhibition clash dubbed ‘Power at the Tower’, in the first ever darts match contested inside the famous London venue.
The tussle was streamed exclusively live online via the SAP YouTube channel with a crowd of around 60 special guests in attendance, including 2018 world champion Rob Cross. Sky Sports commentators Wayne Mardle and Rod Studd were also present and calling the action.
Taylor made a rip-roaring start to the showdown, following up a maximum with a sublime 121 outshot via double eight for a 12-dart hold. The Stoke-on-Trent star doubled his lead with a clinical two-dart 70 combination to complete a 14-dart break, but Bennett fired back with a 64 finish, after Taylor missed the bull for a 122 checkout.
The 16-time world champion regained his two-leg buffer with another majestic 12-dart leg, before closing out a comfortable hold on double 16 to extend his lead to 4-1. Nevertheless, ‘Boom Boom’ Bennett fought back magnificently to turn the match on its head.
The 13-year-old, who landed a double win on the Junior Darts Corporation circuit last weekend, fired in a brilliant 101 checkout to hold throw, which he followed up with an inspired 124 outshot on the bull to reduce the arrears to 4-3.
Bennett levelled up proceedings via double 12 after Taylor missed one dart at tops to break, and the youngster sealed his fourth straight leg moments later – converting double 10 for a 16-dart break after ‘The Power’ was unable to take out 64.
Bennett was sat on tops poised to take a 6-4 lead into the interval, but in typical Taylor fashion, the 58-year-old produced a clinical 87 kill on the bull to break throw and restore parity at five apiece with an incredible 105 average.
The top-quality standard continued after the interval, as Taylor produced a brilliant 122 finish on the bull to regain the lead, before following up a maximum with a regulation 60 finish to lead 7-5. However, Bennett hit back with his third ton-plus finish of the evening, taking out a brilliant 105 on tops after Taylor missed double 16 for an 8-5 cushion.
The youngster was showing admirable composure under pressure as he defied a superb 177 from Taylor to sink double six with his last dart in hand to draw level at 7-7, but experience paid dividends in the closing stages.
‘The Power’ followed up a delightful 171 set-up shot by closing out a 15-dart hold on double four, before moving to the cusp of victory at 9-7 via double 16. Bennett almost prolonged the contest after missing the same target for a 146 finish moments later and Taylor pounced; converting a 106 combination on double 13 to prevail.
Taylor, who retired from professional darts following the 2018 World Championship, averaged 96.7, despite averaging over 100 for the majority of the contest. Meanwhile, ‘Boom Boom’ Bennett performed superbly to post a 93 average in such a unique environment.
Speaking post-match, Bennett admitted: “To be fair I’ve never been this happy losing before. Playing Phil Taylor is just awesome really- I’m speechless after playing that game. Just to take 7 legs off Phil Taylor, a 16-time world champion, is honestly just awesome. I’m over the moon.”
Photo Credit: Nevada Sports