Night one of the Prodarts Series on the Gold Coast was really the night of the Australians with some notable exclusions.
Simon Whitlock nearly capped off the night with an incredible nine darter as his eighth dart was well off the treble 15 he was aiming for so he could check out with a double 18. It was a rare miss for him on the night as he defeated Stuart Leach 6-1.
Earlier in the night Steve McArthur reminded us all of how he made the world championships a decade ago as he comfortably defeated Jamie Harvey 6-1 in the first match of the night.
The second match was much more competitive as Hall of Famer Russell Stewart took on Tasmanian Brad Thorp. The match had been tight throughout but Thorp had looked to break it open when he went 5-2 up. However Stewart struck back, first with an unlikely double 3 check out in leg 8 and then with some power scoring and good finishing he secured the next two legs as well. Thorp had won the bull but it was Stewart who got to the more likely check out of 116 first. However, he could only score 60 and with Thorp needing 72 he went the 16, 16 and double 20 route for the leg and the match, winning 6-5.
The third match was also extra competitive as Johnny K showed glimpses of times gone past as he took on local Gold Coast resident Robbie King. It was Johnny K who took a two leg lead as he was able to take his chances but King was able to break back in the third leg. A 52 check out in leg four puts the match back on par and over the next couple of legs it is the local player who takes his own two leg lead.
Johnny K was not done though and he hit a double ten with his last dart in hand to make the score 3-4. King was able to return the favour in the next leg to move back into a two leg lead. The match was not down though as Kuczynski moved well ahead in the next leg and despite King putting some pressure on by leaving 100 the American put his third dart into the corner of the double bed to move the score to 4-5.
The next leg demonstrated Kuczynski at his best. He seemed out of it and King even had a shot at double 16 for the match but was unable to convert. Kuczynski then stepped up to the oche and converted a 116 to bring the match back to equilibrium. The final leg was King’s chance to return serve and so he did with a 114 check out for the match, 6-5.
The fourth match saw Lucas Cameron overcome Devon Petersen. Early on it was leg for leg as the scoreboard moved to 2-2. There were glimpses of brilliance from both players but often let down by bounce outs or poor visits in between. A 140 saw Cameron move to just that score in the next leg and despite not securing that check out he did get 95 on his next visit to go three up. However it was leg six that would prove critical. Petersen had moved to 49 with relative ease but then manages to miss the big number and then hits double 8 and not double 16. Both players then busted when opportunities for the leg were presented to them until Cameron was able to secure the break with a double 8.
Cameron was able to move to a further leg in front after the next leg when he secured the check out just after Petersen had hit a 180 to leave just 6 remaining. Then Cameron opens with a 180 and secures maximums with darts 4 and 5 but missed his next treble to leave 182. With Petersen on 299 Cameron moved from 182 to 87 and by leaving 159 Petersen could not put pressure on Cameron as it was a bogey score. Cameron sets it up to leave 40 and on his next visit uses all the six darts Petersen presented to him to finally get the win, 6 legs to 2.
The other Aussie win on the night was Kyle Anderson over Rhys Mathewson. It was a tough affair as both players broke each other early, Mathewson with a 107 check out. After three breaks of throw Anderson held his own to lead 3-1. The next few legs went with throw and Anderson moved to a 4—2 lead.
In the next leg Mathewson scored 95 but Anderson was able to better it by 40. Through the leg Mathewson left a 170 check out. Mathewson could only get to 143 though but his opponent does not take full toll and leaves 58. Again Mathewson misses double 16 but Anderson then fails to secure the match and with a double four Mathewson was back in the match at 3-4.
Anderson then had a comfortable leg to move to win one leg of the match, with the last five legs staying on throw. In the next leg Anderson has a shot at double tops for the match but could not convert and despite missing a check out of his own, a double six finally gave Mathewson another leg. The same check out then drew the match level as Anderson missed numerous match darts in that leg as well.
In the last leg both players had a shot at the bull and missed for the match. It was to be a big miss for Mathewson as Anderson got the first chance at 25 and got it with a double 5 for the match, another final leg decider on the night, this time going 6-5 to Kyle Anderson.
The two overseas players who did progress on the night were the finalists from the Brisbane leg of the event.
Andy Hamilton had a great tussle with GG Mathers, fresh back from the World Championships. At 2-0 down GG secured check outs of 158 and then 150 to draw level. After being level after six legs Hammer was able to move 5-3 before Mathers put a scare into things by securing another leg. Unlike the rest of the night though this was not to go to a deciding leg as Hamilton demonstrated all his experience in taking it out and winning the match 6-4.
Phil Taylor was also challenged, but came away victorious, against another DPA order of merit player in Tic Bridge. Taylor went one up but Bridge equalised with a 121 check out. Taylor then bounced straight back and not only secured his own throw but broke Bridge in the fourth leg. Taylor then gave Bridge a chance at the bull in the next leg but after his opponent missed it he made him pay by securing double 16.
The next leg saw Bridge get one back on his own throw. The following leg was critical as Bridge was well ahead throughout it but missed the double 8 to get the break back and Taylor made him pay by stealing a leg he really had not been in. At 5 – 2 it seemed that the match would soon be over but Bridge had other plans as he checks out double 5 to move the score to 5 – 3 to Taylor.
The next leg saw Bridge hit a maximum to move to 181 with his opponent scoring 140 to leave 176. Bridge could only score 96 as Taylor hit 136 to leave 40. Bridge left 68 but Taylor missed three at double tops for the match. Bridge missed the bull for the leg and Taylor finally finished the match off with a double ten. The final score was 6 – 3 to Phil Taylor.
Steve MacArthur 6 Jamie Harvey 1
Brad Thorp 6 Russell Stewart 5
Robbie King 6 Johnny Kuczynski 5
Lucas Cameron 6 Devon Petersen 2
Phil Taylor 6 Tic Bridge 3
Andy Hamilton 6 GG Mathers 4
Kyle Anderson 6 Rhys Mathewson 5
Simon Whitlock 6 Stuart Leach 1