It was a nervy night but Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld got the job done to move into the knock-out stages of the Grand Slam.
Taylor won the all Unicorn affair 5-3 against Wes Newton, while Barney was far too good for Darryl Fitton.
Taylor ‘binned the bins’ – dispensing with the new glasses that he wore for his first two group games – and it didn’t half make a difference!
It was obvious that his game had suffered with the new specs, so it was back to ‘Plan B’ and it did the trick, as he set up a 2nd Round showdown with Ronnie Baxter on Friday night.
Taylor averaged 108.25 – it was back to business! But you still get the feeling there is more to come. Taylor missed six darts for the match before finally hitting D16 to win through 5-3.
“I played way better without the glasses, didn’t I?” said Taylor. “So, I think they will stay in the case for the rest of the week!”
“Eric Bristow texted me twice to tell me to leave the glasses at home!” he added.
“I was nervous up there because of the short format and because of the form that Wes is in. But I got the job done and that’s all that matters.”
Taylor started with a 12 darter and although Newton took out 120 to level, ‘The Power’ raced into a 4-1 lead. Newton had missed two crucial darts to go in level at two legs apiece at the break.
Newton held throw in the 6th leg, after Taylor missed a dart at the bull for the match and both missed doubles in the next, before Newton got another leg back….but Taylor stepped up when it mattered to clinch the win.
Barney did what he had to! He now takes on Scott Waites in the 2nd Round after a comfortable 5-1 victory over Fitton.
“I wasn’t at my best,” he admitted. “But it was all about winning and now I can settle down and get into the tournament.”
The Dutch ace raced into a 3-0 lead, taking out 62 and 77 and a couple of 180s took him to the verge of victory…..D4 won it and his clash with Waites promises to be some game on Friday!
But there was Grand Slam heartache for Paul Nicholson, who saw his tournament come to a juddering halt after his defeat to Steve Beaton.
It means ‘The Asset’ goes out of the event having won two out of his three group matches, with Beaton and Ronnie Baxter qualifying from Group G.
In the end, it was three defeats from three group games for the Unicorn trio of Adrian Lewis, Arron Monk and Tricia Wright.
Lewis was beaten 5-3 by BDO star Scott Waites, who finished top of Group E….and to be fair, Lewis didn’t do a lot wrong, as he was blitzed in the early stages by some astonishing finishing.
Waites raced into a 3-0 lead with check-outs of 127, 161 and 137 and although Lewis fought back briefly, he lost 5-3.
Youngster Monk played really well but ran up against an in-form Baxter. ‘The Rocket’ was firing, nailing five doubles from six attempts!
Monk averaged 95 and in the one leg he won, he hit six perfect darts with back-to-back 180s! He missed important doubles and the 5-1 scoreline doesn’t really tell the story.
“I have enjoyed the whole thing!” he said. “It has been a great experience for me and will make me a better player in the future.”
Tricia Wright’s last game ended in a 5-1 defeat to Colin Lloyd, but again, a great experience for the World Championship runner-up and the incentive to come back and give it another go!
Elsewhere on another drama-filled night in Wolverhampton, Co Stompe reached the 2nd Round after an incredible comeback win over Martin Phillips. The Dutchman trailed 4-1 and Phillips missed a dart at D5 to win 5-1……Stompe hit back and took out 132 (bull, bull, D16) and he won the decider with a 104 check-out after the Welshman missed a dart at ‘tops’ to win.
Stompe plays Colin Lloyd in the 2nd Round, while Ted Hankey will take on Beaton. ‘The Count’ beat Michael van Gerwen 5-4 to make it three wins out of three in Group H.
Wednesday Group results:
Adrian Lewis 3-5 Scott Waites
Co Stompe 5-4 Martin Phillips
Colin Lloyd 5-1 Tricia Wright
Raymond van Barneveld 5-1 Darryl Fitton
Ronnie Baxter 5-1 Arron Monk
Paul Nicholson 1-5 Steve Beaton
Ted Hankey 5-4 Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor 5-3 Wes Newton
Thursday 2nd Round matches:
Robert Thornton v Wayne Jones
Tony O’Shea v Terry Jenkins
Gary Anderson v Colin Osborne
Mervyn King v James Wade
Friday 2nd Round matches:
Colin Lloyd v Co Stompe
Ted Hankey v Steve Beaton
Ronnie Baxter v Phil Taylor
Scott Waites v Raymond van Barneveld
By STUART PYKE at the Daily Mirror Grand Slam of Darts
Photos courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC