Raymond van Barneveld fought back from 6-3 down to defeat Phil Taylor 7-6 in a thrilling ‘Darts at Home’ charity showdown which raised £15,000 for the NHS on Thursday.
Van Barneveld and Taylor locked horns on a whopping 83 occasions throughout their distinguished careers, although their last competitive meeting came way back in 2017. However, rivalries were renewed for a tremendous cause this evening.
The two darting juggernauts battled it out from their own living rooms via electronic soft tip Target Nexus boards, which have built in webcams and microphones which gives players the opportunity to interact with their opponents and see their visits to the board.
The contest was organised by Paddy Power, who pledged to donate £1,000 per maximum hit to the NHS charity Heroes as the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic continues, whilst Sky Sports duo Wayne Mardle and Stuart Pyke provided superb commentary from their respective homes.
There are some fundamental differences with the Target Nexus Boards as opposed to ordinary steel-tip boards. In soft-tip, the size of the trebles are bigger and the bullseye is often a preferred target for players, particularly in the latter stages of legs, as the outer bull also counts as 50 points.
The match was played in terrific spirit, although it was Van Barneveld who secured the bragging rights, averaging 119.27, posting five maximums and boasting an 87% checkout success rate. Taylor landed an incredible TEN maximums but still lost out with a 118.09 average.
Taylor ironically posted the highest losing televised average against RvB in the 2015 Premier League, succumbing 7-4 with a 115.80 average. Now ‘The Power’ holds a similar record in the soft-tip format, although the result was immaterial – it was terrific entertainment for a brilliant cause.
Van Barneveld made a rip-roaring start to proceedings, taking out 56 for an 11-dart hold of throw, before defying a brace of maximums from Taylor to take out 161 and double his lead.
Taylor responded in sensational style however, taking out 151 with Barney poised on a double, which was followed by a sumptuous 134 checkout culminating with two bulls to restore parity at two apiece.
Van Barneveld stopped the rot with a two-dart 56 combination to regain the lead at 3-2 although Taylor’s terrific ton-plus finishing continued, with ‘The Power’ converting a 116 combination on the bull to head into the interval level pegging.
The break appeared to disrupt Barney’s rhythm and the Stoke-on-Trent legend duly capitalised to establish control. The 59-year-old sank a delightful 114 finish to lead for the first time, before taking out tops for a 14-darter to lead 5-3 with a 114 average.
‘The Power’ found the bull to move to the cusp of victory at 6-3 but Van Barneveld managed to keep his hopes alive with a 13-darter via double 18, before defying six perfect darts from Taylor to fire in an 11-dart hold and reduce the deficit to 6-5.
The 16-time world champion had the advantage of throw in leg 12 although this time it was Van Barneveld close to achieving perfection. The doyen of Dutch darts crashed in back-to-back maximums and found the treble 20 and treble 19, before agonisingly wiring the double 12.
That provoked a playful giggle from ‘The Power’ but Barney returned to close out a 10-dart break via double six and force a deciding leg, in a repeat of their classic 2007 World Championship final at the Circus Tavern, which Barney won 7-6, and history repeated itself.
The 52-year-old had the throw in the decider and fired in visits of 136, 140 and 140 to leave 86 after nine darts and despite Taylor landing a tenth 180 to leave 96 after nine darts, Van Barneveld kept his nerve to take out 86 on the bull and complete a sublime fightback.
You can view the entire clash via the video below…
Photo Credit: Kais Bodensieck/PDC Europe