A review of Wednesday's action at the Betfred World Matchplay in Blackpool, where Peter Wright hit a 170 checkout and Rob Cross also impressed in reaching the quarter-finals.
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Snakebite catches Big Fish as hot streak goes on
Peter Wright made it 20 victories on the spin with another sparkling performance as he stormed into the World Matchplay quarter-finals with an 11-2 thrashing of Simon Whitlock.
Snakebite, who is chasing a fourth title in succession having headed to Blackpool on the back of winning the German Darts Masters and two Players Championship events last week, averaged over 100 for the 11th time in this hot streak of form with a mark of 103.01 - higher than any of the remaining players have managed so far.
But the highlight of this incredibly one-sided affair was a stunning 170 checkout, which was expertly predicted by the commentator Wayne Mardle, to complete a 12-darter in the fourth leg.
He came pretty close to eclipsing this moment in what proved to be the final leg of the match but his attempt to complete the victory with a nine-darter was foiled when his eighth landed in single three.
Whitlock was unable to test Wright like Vincent van der Voort managed to in the opening round and the Aussie will be desperately disappointed with an average of 87.42 and the fact he only earned five darts at doubles.
Wright, who also teamed up with Gary Anderson to win the World Cup of Darts for Scotland last month, hit six more 180s with seven and pinned exactly 50% of his double attempts as the 2017 UK Open champion continues to build confidence in his quest to win his second major televised title.
Voltage too hot to handle
Rob Cross showed why he's the new World Matchplay favourite with a crushing 11-5 victory over the dangerous Krzysztof Ratajski to book his last eight spot.
Voltage heads the betting from the imperious Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen's conqueror Glen Durrant, while the exit of Gary Anderson on a dramatic Tuesday night in Blackpool also blew the second biggest tournament in darts wide open.
There was only the slightest scare for the 2018 world champion when the Polish Eagle raised the roof with a 160 checkout to complete a 12-darter move into an early 2-0 lead but that would be the last leg he'd win until falling 9-2 behind.
During his ruthless run, Cross threatened a perfect leg in the fifth before settling for what was the first of two 11-darters while he also made two ton+ checkouts of 124 and 100.
His efforts were aided by four-time PDC title winner Ratajski, who once again struggled to show why he's so highly rated away from the televised stages, and it wasn't too much longer before victory was sealed.
Cross, who is searching for his first title since last August despite his his statistical prowess on the circuit this season, averaged 98.47 compared to Ratajski's 94.54 while he hit three more maximums with four and pinned 11 of his 19 double attempts, with the Pole spurning five of his 10.
Bullet dodges danger as Diamond crumbles into dust
Stephen Bunting made the most of an all too familiar capitulation from Ian White's on the televised stage as he produced a memorable Winter Gardens comeback - although the Bullet did almost give up at one point.
It looked as if White, whose two European Tour titles this season had led many to believe he may finally be ready to show his true quality at a major tournament, was on the brink of his second World Matchplay quarter-final and first since 2015 when he led 9-4 in a race to 11 legs but nerves started to get the better of him as the finishing line approached.
Diamond failed to earn himself a single shot at a double as Bunting won four legs on the spin before the St Helens man squandered three darts to make it five, allowing White to move one away from victory.
The 48-year-old, who has never gone beyond the quarter-finals of any major televised tournament despite his undeniable talents on the PDC circuit for many years, then had three clear match darts at double 16 as Bunting started to pack his away, but moments later he was getting them out again to pin tops.
Two more opportunities came and went at the same target when leading 10-9 which meant a tie-break situation ensued and although White stopped the rot with a 13-darter, Bunting's brilliant 110 checkout under the pressure of his opponent waiting on 48 made it 11-11.
Bunting then broke with an 84 checkout for a 14-darter after White had missed tops, before Diamond held his nerve at the same target to level the scores once again.
White, who thrashed Joe Cullen 10-0 in the opening round, hit his 10th 180 to kick off the next leg but despite establishing a big lead, he crumbled again when blowing five darts from 16 - but that was effectively seven when you consider his first attempt of one of those visits saw him pin double 11 to bust his score.
The former BDO world champion made him pay to break the throw before finishing the rattled White off in what proved to be the final leg.
It's the second time Bunting has escaped match darts having edged past Gerwyn Price in an epic first-round encounter on Saturday that went all the way to sudden death.
In this clash, Bunting ended with an average of 92.82 compared to White's 94.63, hit one fewer maximum with nine but was far more clinical on his doubles, hitting 14 out of 27 as Diamond spurned 31 of his.
White, who memorably blew a two set lead at the World Championship against Devon Peterson back in December, must go and lick his wounds and regroup ahead of the other big majors later this year.
Needle blunted at Winter-fell Gardens
It may not have been pretty to watch but Daryl Gurney battled past Keegan Brown to reach the quarter-finals of the World Matchplay for just the second time in his career.
Both men scored well enough with the Northern Irishman hitting eight 180s compared to the Needle's six but they were almost equally as poor on their doubles as each other in a hard-fought contest.
Gurney, one of our pre-tournament tips at 25/1 each-way, managed a couple of ton+ finishes from 109 and 106 in the first half of the match, with the latter moving him 6-3 up, but overall he hit 11 of his his 36 attempts at doubles and was fortunate Brown failed to conjure up the same high checkout magic from his previous victory.
The Isle of Wight thrower made four 100+ checkouts in a superb win over Jonny Clayton but on this occasion his best was from 88 while he spurned 22 of his 31 attempts at the outer ring.
He did show plenty of fighting spirit, however, to claw his way back into the match having trailed 3-0 and 10-7 but his late rally was too little too late.
The 2017 World Grand Prix and 2018 Players Championship Finals winner Gurney, who averaged 93.44 compared to Brown's 92.44, knows he'll need to improve on this display against Peter Wright or Simon Whitlock if he's to emulate his run to the 2017 semi-finals at the very least.
Wednesday results & Thursday schedule
Wednesday July 24 (1900 BST)
Second Round (best of 21 legs)
TV Channel: Sky Sports
- Daryl Gurney 11-9 Keegan Brown
- Stephen Bunting 14-12 Ian White
- Rob Cross 11-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
- Peter Wright 11-2 Simon Whitlock
Thursday July 25 (1900 BST)
Quarter-Finals (Best of 31 legs)
TV Channel: Sky Sports
- Glen Durrant v James Wade
- Michael Smith v Mervyn King