Michael Smith beats John Henderson at World Darts Championship
Michael Smith remained on course for a second quarter-final appearance at the World Darts Championship with a 4-2 win over John Henderson.
Bully Boy won nine of the last 10 legs to see off The Highlander who had kept pace with the 10th seed but had no answer to the scoring power of Smith, who powered away to a fourth-round showdown with a Ryan Searle.
Fittingly, in a tournament that has already lost 20 of the 32 seeds, the action got back underway after the Christmas break with another couple of upsets. Luke Humphries knocked out two-time world youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh and Devon Peterson accounted for 22nd seed Steve West.
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Michael Smith 4-1 John Henderson, Third Round
Michael Smith kept alive his hopes of reaching the last eight of the competition for just the second time as he delivered a classy performance to see off John Henderson, averaging 110.47, hitting nine 180s with 47 per cent on doubles.
The first set was high-class, with both men averaging in the mid 100s, and it went the distance before a spot of double trouble in the fifth was eventually halted when Henderson found the double eight after Bully Boy’s two missed darts for the set.
Henderson went six darts of the way towards a magical nine-darter in a nail-biting second set, a 116 then putting Smith under pressure at 2-1 down. But the 10th seed was maintaining a three-figure average and levelled the contest thanks to double 10 before an astonishing third set.
Smith powered into a 2-0 lead and missed a dart at tops that would have given him the set and the response from Henderson was sensational. Double nine stopped the rot and the Scot then levelled the set with a spectacular 161 finish via the bullseye before double top gave him a 2-1 lead.
Three successive legs and an average of 118 saw Smith level the match with the fourth set as he began to pull away. Henderson stopped another burst from Smith by taking the third leg of the fifth set but Bully Boy was back to pin tops for the set and then another three legs in quick succession to seal the victory.
Luke Humphries 4-1 Dimitri Van den Bergh, Third Round
Development Tour leader Luke Humphries set up a showdown with defending champion Rob Cross after prevailing over Dimitri Van den Bergh.
The pair finished first and second on the Development Tour Order of Merit and were meeting on the big stage for the first time. Van den Bergh took out finishes of 147 and 128 to ensure a level contest in the first set, but Humphries made amends for a host of missed darts at double to claim the opening set after the Belgian’s first missed dart at a double cost him dearly.
Van den Bergh raced into a 2-0 lead in the second but Humphries lived up to his nickname of ‘Cool Hand’ by hitting clinical combination finishes of 85, 91 and 83 to open up a 2-0 lead.
Dancing Dimitri claimed the third set but was no match for the consistency of Humphries who was taking every chance to come his way, upping his finishing stats to go with a 103 average that was enough to re-establish his two-set lead, a classy 117 kill wrapping up the 3-1 lead.
Humphries eased into a 2-0 lead and within a leg of the match and when the Belgian could not take out 116, Cool Hand pinned double eight for the win and a Friday night meeting with last year’s fairy-tale winner as his own story continues.
Devon Petersen 4-2 Steve West, Third Round
Devon Peterson will face Nathan Aspinall in the last 16 after seeing off Steve West in the opening match of the day.
West raced out of the starting gate with a blistering 104 average as the 22nd seed started with an 11-dart leg and then reeled off the next two to hit the front.
In the second set, three consecutive breaks left Petersen with a 2-1 advantage, and he took out a brilliant 139 finish to level the contest.
Inspired, the South African continued where he left off in the third. A sizzling 127 finish was followed by a 12-dart break of hold for a 2-0 lead and then a third three-figure finish (107) was enough to account for the set and the lead.
West had little trouble in sweeping all three legs of the fourth set as the see-saw nature of the contest continued, and the decisive fifth set went the distance. West missed a dart for the set and Peterson punished him by taking out tops for a 3-2 lead.
The African Warrior moved to within a leg of the last 16 and, after West missed five darts that would have taken the set to a decider, Peterson took out double eight for the match.
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