It was a sensational night at the World Matchplay as the Team Unicorn trio of Gary Anderson, Joe Cullen and Jeffrey de Zwaan powered into the quarter-finals.
But for Michael Smith, it is the Winter Gardens exit door as he lost a big lead and went down to Dave Chisnall.
De Zwaan was nerveless as he edged out Adrian Lewis 11-9, while Cullen thrashed Daryl Gurney with a composed display.
And it’s Cullen against Gary Anderson in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
Anderson staged a magnificent fightback 104 to beat Raymond van Barneveld 11-9 with an average of 104 and a show of real quality.
He was unlucky to be 4-1 down and 5-2 behind as he missed key doubles and Barney mopped with finishes of 130 and 122. Even at 7-4 down Anderson believed and he produced some magical ‘arrers with his new Unicorn darts, piling in the 140s and 180s as he won four legs on the spin to move in front for the first time
It was Anderson at his irresistible best.
At nine legs apiece, Anderson broke the Van Barneveld throw with a brilliant 12 darter and then wrapped up the win hitting 82 on the bull.
“A new set of darts and they did me proud. I knew I was playing well and if I could string together a run that would put pressure on Barney. I am motivated to win this for sure but Joe is playing really well so I will have to up the ante again,” Anderson said.
Talk about ‘Cool Hand’ Jeffrey! Another sensational performance to set up a big quarter-final clash against Chisnall. It was another De Zwaan show stopper on the Winter Gardens as Lewis went the same way as Michael van Gerwen.
The Unicorn youngster held his nerve and thoroughly deserved his latest success. “I have to pinch myself. It is an amazing feeling. I was very happy on the stage. Even if Adrian tried to slow things down, I was only bothered about what I was doing. I had to stay focused and I did. Wow, quarter-Finals of the Matchplay but there is better to come! Exciting times for sure.”
He held it together superbly to see off a Lewis fightback in Blackpool....finishes of 81, 76 and 104 saw the Dutch ace go 6-2 ahead. Then a terrific 120 out to go 8-5 in front. He was playing some fantastic darts. Lewis got back to within a leg at 10-9 after De Zwaan missed three match darts at ‘tops’ to win 11-8, but he then won it in style.
A brilliant 94 finish....18, D18 and ‘tops’!
What a performance!
Well, without doubt one of the most important wins of Joe Cullen’s career. Cementing that place in the world’s elite top 16 and into the Matchplay quarter-finals for the very first time.
“I know Daryl didn’t really turn up but that isn’t my problem. All the nerves I had went as soon as I got on the stage and I thought I played some decent stuff. Let’s see what Thursday brings but there’s no reason that I can’t go on from this the way I’m feeling,” Cullen said.
He started the match with a superb 116 finish and should have been further ahead than 3-2 at the first break. But from three legs apiece the Unicorn man took total control and, in the end, coasted to the finishing line in fine style.
Cullen won eight straight legs! He averaged just shy of a 100 and enjoyed a 50% check-out success rate. It really was terrific stuff from the Yorkshireman.
Well, there was heartache for Michael Smith who looked to be coasting to his first Matchplay quarter-final.....7-1 up and lost. It was a real wasted opportunity and not surprisingly, he was devastated by the result as he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Unicorn ace made the perfect start...power scoring, good finishing and he punished Chisnall racing into that 7-1 lead. Smith owned the stage and even when Chizzy got a couple of legs back, the alarm bells weren’t ringing. But six legs on the spin and all of a sudden it was a level game.
A crucial point saw Smith miss one dart for an 8-4 lead. Chisnall levelled again after Smith missed the bull for a 127 check-out. Michael missed ‘tops’ in the 17th leg and fell behind for the first time and he just couldn’t find a way back. Chisnall had incredibly won 10 legs out of 11.
Tuesday 2nd Round results:
Dave Chisnall 11-8 Michael Smith
Daryl Gurney 3-11 Joe Cullen
Jeffrey de Zwaan 11-9 Adrian Lewis
Gary Anderson 11-9 Raymond van Barneveld
By STUART PYKE
Photos courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC