Auckland Darts Masters Night Two

The second night of the Auckland Darts Masters produced some more world class performances as four players moved through to the semi finals, Simon Whitlock, Raymond van Barneveld, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright.

The first quarter final of the match saw Simon Whitlock go behind early to World Champion Rob Cross before three legs on the trot saw the Wizard take the lead. Another two legs (including an 11 dart seventh leg) to Cross moved him back in front before Whitlock, thanks to his 100% start on the check out darts, secured another three legs in a row.

The Englishman then secured two legs on the trot after Whitlock missed the bull and Cross checked out 78. In leg 13 Whitlock started a run of 180s that would eventually take him to the match. After securing that leg Whitlock missed the bull for a 164 check out and Cross tied the match up at 7-7. Whitlock then moved ahead with a full finish chasing a 126 check out. His opponent then was unable to get to a finish dart chasing just 65 and Whitlock pounced to move within a leg of the match. After another maximum at his second visit to the oche in the next leg Whitlock moved through with confidence, having hit tops to take out the match.

Local hope Mark McGrath then put up a decent fight before succumbing to Raymond van Barneveld, 10 legs to 4. Things started well for McGrath as he managed to hold throw but on his second throw he was broken by his Dutch opponent and after holding throw Barney was quickly 3-1 ahead. McGrath looked to be in trouble but demonstrated his resilience by holding his next throw. He could then have broken his opponent but missed the double 15 and the PDC player punished the miss.

Van Barneveld then won legs either side of the break to lead 6-2. After the Dutchman secured another leg he looked to be moving to a six leg lead until six poor darts let McGrath back into the leg, which he took with both hands after checking out 78. This revival was put out after the Dutchman stole the next leg. Again McGrath did not throw in the towel as he checked a 115. However the lead was too big and after missing the bull to win a fifth leg, the Kiwi had to stand and watch as Barney hit a double 16 with last dart in hand to take out the match.
In a high class third quarter final Michael van Gerwen defeated a slow starting Gary Anderson by ten legs to four.

Van Gerwen’s attitude was clear from the start as he chased a nine darter with seven perfect darts. He then secured a break of throw and was soon five nil up. To that point a 134 was his lowest first visit to the oche. Just before the break the World matchplay champion jumped into gear with two legs, including a 170 to go to the break 5-2 down. Van Gerwen came out after the break and threw a 12 dart leg before quickly adding a further leg to his lead.

Anderson then went on a mini run as he won two games on the trot but the turning point of the match came in the 12th leg when Anderson could have moved to 7-5 but failed to convert 36. Van Gerwen then powered through the next leg to move only one away from the match. More maximums gave both players a chance but Anderson missed the double ten and on his next visit Van Gerwen locked the match up ten legs to four.

In the final quarter final Peter Wright took out the defending champion, Kyle Anderson. The Scotsman came out of the blocks quickly and jumped to a 2-0 lead. With an amazing last dart Anderson got a leg back. After his first two darts had covered the target, a double 8, he had to move very wide but managed to sneak his arrow through. He then had an outside chance of going all square but he could not convert 160 and Wright squeezed a double one home for a 3-1 lead. Anderson then secured the fifth leg and the match went on throw until the break, including “The Original” hitting a treble 1, 25 and bull finish for the seventh leg.

Some powerful throwing from Wright kept him well ahead in the leg after the break and he went 6-3 up after Anderson failed to check out 121 in three visits to the oche. In the tenth leg Anderson required 66 but the Australian had to watch as Wright took out his check out first. Despite missing the bull for the next leg Wright was 8-3 two darts later and yet another double ten finish moved the Snakebite to just a leg away from the match. In the final leg the double ten finish let Wright down but Anderson missed the bull and a couple of darts later the night was over.