PAUL NICHOLSON erased the memory of his painful defeat in last year’s BetVictor World Matchplay with a gutsy 10-8 defeat of Robert Thornton on Sunday afternoon, as Dave Chisnall, Richie Burnett and Andy Hamilton joined him in the second round in Blackpool.

Nicholson had left the Winter Gardens stage in tears 12 months ago as he allowed a lead to slip against Dave Chisnall, but this year progressed through a tough first round clash with Thornton before emotionally celebrating his triumph.

The former Players Championship Finals winner hit back from 2-0 down to win five successive legs, only for Thornton to then take four in a row to move 6-5 up.

The Scot also leg 7-6, but Nicholson punished three key misses at double 12 from his opponent to level in the 14th leg, before taking out a key 107 finish as he pulled through to claim the win.

“I’m so pleased to win, but also with the way I got the win,” said Nicholson. “I think it’s a big hurdle, and coming back here this year was all about redemption.

“When I got the opportunity I took it and I’ve worked so hard over the last couple of weeks to get ready for this tournament and I can see a lot of positives.

“In that first five or six legs, I can see some good scoring and I’ve just got to get some consistency, which will come with match practice. I’m looking forward to the future.”

Nicholson also revealed: “I’ve had a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders over the last two or three months and I’ve worked really hard with an acupuncturist and my therapist, and now I’ve figured out what was wrong, I can put it right – and watch out now!”

Andy Hamilton and Dave Chisnall set up a tasty second round clash as they both progressed with victories on Sunday afternoon.

Two-time World Champion semi-finalist Hamilton romped to a 10-3 win over Wayne Jones, who hit back from 2-0 down to level at three-all only to lose seven successive legs as the Stoke star moved into the last 16.

“I started well with an 11-darter and it gave me a lot of confidence,” said Hamilton. “I scored well today, I’m playing solid darts and I’m fighting hard.

“Wayne’s been there for years and years and we know how good he can be so I wanted to hit him hard early on and punish him, and that’s what happened.

“I’ve put a lot of hard work in and I’m benefitting from that. It’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked for a TV event and I want to move on from here – I know I can win it, I’ve been in finals and I want to win a major now.”

Chisnall, meanwhile, impressed with a 10-4 win over Dean Winstanley, taking out finishes of 132, 131 and 121 and averaging almost 99.

Winstanley hit back from 5-1 down to trail just 6-4 at one stage, but missed his chance to cut the gap to one in the 11th leg as Chisnall posed double two to regain the edge before taking the next three legs without reply for a fine win.

“It was a good win for me,” said Chisnall. “I’ve been knocked out of the last couple of European Tour events because of missed doubles but I’ve worked a lot on that in practise and it paid off.

“I’m getting fed up of losing games that I should be winning and I’ve always said that if I hit my doubles I can beat anybody because my scoring is quite high.

“I was focused today and when I hit the 131 checkout in the first leg I knew I was going to play well and hit my doubles.”

Former finalist Richie Burnett progress to a second round tie with 2007 World Matchplay champion with a 10-4 defeat of Brendan Dolan, who also hit back from 2-0 down to level at three-all.

However, the Welshman finished 96 and 61 as he edged away before finishing 121 and 101 as he took five successive legs in sweeping to the win.

“It’s really hard to play against Brendan, but once I got into a rhythm I was fine and I kicked on,” said Burnett. “Brendan is a lot better than he showed today but I’ll take the win.

“I love this place, it’s my favourite venue and I’d love to do well in this tournament. Now I’m past the first round, I can relax and look forward to the next game.

“I can kick on from here and I know I can play ten times better than that, but I’m just happy to get through. If I turn up and score well and hit my doubles, I can beat anybody.

BetVictor World Matchplay Darts Results

Sunday July 20
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
First Round
Dave Chisnall 10-4 Dean Winstanley
Brendan Dolan 4-10 Richie Burnett
Robert Thornton 8-10 Paul Nicholson
Andy Hamilton 10-3 Wayne Jones


First Round – Best of 19 legs
* Each game must be won by two clear legs, with up to a maximum of five additional legs being played before the sixth “extra” leg is sudden-death.

Dave Chisnall v Dean Winstanley
0-0 – Dean Winstanley wins the bull and will throw first.
1-0 – Chisnall makes a brilliant start, taking out 131 on double 16, as Winstanley waits on 40.
2-0 – Winstanley is again left waiting on 40 as Chisnall hits the winning double, this time taking out tops to finish 64.
2-1 – Winstanley initially misses double 12 to take out 97, but Chisnall misses a dart at tops to finish 64 on this occasion, allowing the Yorkshireman to finish double six with his third dart.
3-1 – Chisnall fires in the game’s first 180, before hitting double eight to regain his edge.
4-1 – Double 16 gives Chisnall a second break of throw, as he moves three legs clear.
5-1 – Tops sees Chisnall win a third successive leg as his strong start continues.
5-2 – Chisnall fires in a 180 to leave 139, but pays the price for missing five darts at double as Winstanley steals the leg on double 16.
5-3 – Tops gives Winstanley a second successive leg.
6-3 – Chisnall scores 171 to leave 132, which he takes out on the bullseye to halt Winstanley’s revival.
6-4 – Winstanley wins his third leg from four as he takes out 66.
7-4 – The pair trade 180s and Chisnall hits a 170 score during the leg – and when Winstanley misses double five for a 130 finish, the former World Grand Prix finalist takes out double two.
8-4 – Chisnall lands a fourth 180 of the game before taking out a fine 121 finish, his third ton-plus checkout of the contest.
9-4 – Winstanley posts a second maximum, but is unable to take the leg as Chisnall finishes 72 on tops to move to the brink of victory.
10-4 – Chisnall hits a second 171 score of the game before sealing victory.

Brendan Dolan v Richie Burnett
0-0 – Brendan Dolan wins the bull and will throw first.
0-1 – Dolan lands a 180 in the opening leg, only to miss six darts at doubles, allowing Burnett to steal a break of throw on double two.
0-2 – Dolan fires in a 177 to leave 132, but misses the bull to complete that combination and further darts at double eight and four to allow Burnett in again, as the Welshman finishes 88 in two darts to double his lead.
1-2 – Dolan continues to struggle with his doubles, but returns to land double eight – finally getting off the mark with his 16th dart at a double.
1-3 – Dolan misses the bullseye this time, allowing Burnett back in to finish double four with his third dart.
2-3 – Double top sees Dolan hit back.
3-3 – Dolan finishes 81 on double 12 to break and level the game.
3-4 – Burnett hits a 180 and finishes 96 to break back and regain the lead.
3-5 – Burnett pins double 18 for a second successive leg, this time completing a 61 combination.
4-5 – Double 16 sees Dolan respond.
4-6 – The Welsh ace lands double ten as he takes a two-leg lead once again.
4-7 – Burnett takes out 121 on the bull for a 12-darter to break throw.
4-8 – The Welshman this time finishes 101 to move four legs clear.
4-9 – Burnett posts a 180 before double eight moves him to the brink of victory.
4-10 – Burnett lands tops to seal a fine victory.

Robert Thornton v Paul Nicholson
0-0 – Robert Thornton wins the bull and will throw first.
1-0 – Nicholson hits a 180 but misses the bull to break throw, as Thornton steps in to finish 112 on the bull, responding to hitting single five with his first dart by posting treble 19 and the bullseye.
2-0 – Thornton Thornton lands a 180 and finishes tops for a 12-darter to double his lead.
2-1 – Nicholson gets off the mark by finishing 80 to break.
2-2 – Thornton misses tops for a 118 finish, and Nicholson takes out double eight to level.
2-3 – Nicholson moves ahead by posting double top to break throw.
2-4 – Nicholson fires in a 180 before taking out 108 on double 16.
2-5 – Double eight edges Nicholson three legs clear as he extends his winning run to five straight legs.
3-5 – Thornton fires in a 180 and 140 to leave tops as he hits back.
4-5 – Thornton opens with five perfect darts as a 180 and 140 push him away, with Nicholson missing double five for a 130 finish to allow the Scot in on tops to reduce the gap to one leg.
5-5 – Thornton levels the game by taking out 78 on tops.
6-5 – Nicholson misses three darts at tops, and Thornton punishes him by hitting the same bed to finish 48.
6-6 – Nicholson’s dodgy doubling continnues as he initially misses four darts at double top and ten, before returning to post double ten.
7-6 – Double ten sees Thornton edge back in front.
7-7 – Thornton misses three darts at double 12 to break throw, and Nicholson steps in on double 16.
7-8 – Nicholson takes out 65 on tops to break throw and move back in front.
8-8 – Thornton fires in a 180 before hitting tops to break back and level.
8-9 – Nicholson posts his third 180 of the game to leave 107, before finishing the combination on double 16.
8-10 – NIcholson initially misses double eight with two darts for the win, with Thornton missing double 18 and nine to allow him back to seal the win on double eight.

Andy Hamilton v Wayne Jones
0-0 – Andy Hamilton wins the bull and will throw first.
1-0 – Hamilton lands two 180s in the opening leg as he makes a strong start.
2-0 – Hamilton doubles his lead with a break of throw.
2-1 – Jones hits back with a break, landing a 180 of his own before posting a third-dart double 13.
3-1 – Hamilton finishes 76 to win another leg against the throw.
3-2 – Jones lands double 16 as he replies to cut the gap to one leg.
3-3 – Jones levels the contest by holding throw for the first time.
4-3 – Hamilton pins double 14 to move back ahead.
5-3 – Hamilton lands a third 180 of the game and posts double ten to move two legs clear.
6-3 – The former semi-finalist takes out 68 on double 16.
7-3 – Double ten pushes Hamilton into a four-leg lead.
8-3 – Hamilton fires in a 180 before taking out double ten once more.
9-3 – Hamilton breaks throw for a fifth time in the game as he moves to the brink of victory – although he mistakenly turns to shake Jones’ hand thinking that he had sealed the win!
10-3 – Hamilton this time does secure the win, hitting double eight to move through to a second round clash with Dave Chisnall.

PHIL TAYLOR began his bid to win a 15th BetVictor World Matchplay title by sounding a warning to his rivals in Blackpool with a superb 10-4 defeat of Darren Webster on Sunday night, as Michael Smith, Wes Newton and Raymond van Barneveld also picked up Winter Gardens wins.

Taylor, who has won six successive titles in Blackpool, produced one of his best displays of 2014 as he averaged 101.79, hit five 180s and finished 43 percent of his chances at a double against Webster.

The qualifier from Norfolk had taken the game’s opening leg and hit six perfect darts in the fourth as he levelled at two-all – but Taylor took command by winning the game’s next five legs to move 7-2 up, hitting six perfect darts himself in one leg.

Webster won two of the next three, including a 92 finish on the bull, to pull back to 8-4, but a showpiece 132 checkout from Taylor of two bullseyes and double 16 moved him to the brink of a victory which was sealed with the help of his fifth 180.

“I’m very happy with that because I was determined to play well tonight,” said Taylor. “Darren was gutsy and he’s got a lot of bottle; he doesn’t give up and he goes up there and plays his own game.

“I’ve been practising well for a while and not taking it onto stage, but now I’m taking it up there and I know I’ll play well this week – and the other players know now too.

“I’m loving the way the darts are going in and I’m genuinely excited, and I think now that I’ll get back to my best.”

Taylor now faces former World Youth Champion Michael Smith in the second round on Wednesday, after the emerging star from St Helens defeated Justin Pipe 10-8 earlier on Sunday night.

Smith famously knocked Taylor out of the World Championship in December and also defeated the Stoke great in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy last month – but the 53-year-old smiled: “I can’t wait, because he’ll be getting the proper Phil Taylor this time.

“Michael knows he’s got a tough game, but he’s got every right to be confident because he’s a cracking player.

“I want to have a scrap with him and it will be great. The fans will be in for a treat and I think there could be a nine-darter too.”

Smith, a 23-year-old from St Helens, further enhanced his growing reputation with a gritty 10-8 win over Pipe in their first round encounter in Blackpool.

Although Smith led 2-1 early on – as he took out 83 on the bull – Pipe broke back to level before the pair traded the next 12 legs without a break to leave the scores locked at eight-all.

Smith, though, held his nerve to break on tops in the next as he moved 9-8 up, before hitting his seventh 180 of the contest as he secured the win.

“I’m so chuffed to get through,” said Smith. “Two years ago when I previously played here, I was a naive young boy who expected the world to come knocking at my door, but I’ve put the hard work in now and I’ve come knocking on the world’s door!

“It was a hard-fought game and there we no tactics, we just both wanted to win. When we went to eight-all, I wanted to push as hard as could to break Justin and he hit some bad scores and I managed to capitalise.”

Smith added: “Phil’s the best player in the world, but I’m here to win matches and win tournaments. I know I can beat Phil – but after the World Championship Phil beat me 6-1 and 6-0!

“He’s not finished, but I’ve just got to go up there and play my own game. I’m not playing Phil Taylor, I’m playing another darts player; he’s got three darts and I’ve got three darts, and that’s all that matters.”

Premier League Darts champion Raymond van Barneveld hit eight maximums of his own as he won the all-Dutch clash with Vincent van der Voort 10-4.

Van Barneveld took a 4-0 lead by punishing his rival’s missed doubles, and he extended his advantage to 6-1 and 9-2 before holding off a brief rally from van der Voort to set up a second round tie with Simon Whitlock.

“It looks like a comfortable win but it wasn’t like that,” said van Barneveld, the 2010 World Matchplay runner-up. “I’ve known Vincent for many years and it’s hard to play him, but I had to concentrate on my game and I got the win.

“I didn’t play as well as I can, but Vincent missed a few doubles in the first three or four legs and let me in, so I’m happy with the win.

“I’ll have to perform better against Simon Whitlock in the second round because he’s getting in shape again. He’s been working hard to improve and he’s growing in confidence.”

Fleetwood’s Wes Newton was Sunday night’s other winner as he produced a stunning comeback to defeat Blackpool’s Ronnie Baxter 11-9 in their Fylde coast derby.

Baxter took advantage of a slow start from Newton to take leads of 4-1 and 8-4, only for the number ten seed to hit back to level before winning a fifth straight leg by taking out 66 to move 9-8 up.

Baxter, the 1998 finalist in Blackpool, responded with a 14-dart finish to send the game into a tie-break, but Newton broke throw to move 10-9 up before sealing victory with a stunning 144 checkout.

“It wasn’t my best performance but it’s a win,” said Newton, who now meets Paul Nicholson in round two. “I’ve got mixed emotions to be honest because neither of us played as well as we can and we’re both local players and good friends.

“I felt good in the practice room but nothing happened for me at all early on, and I thought I was going to get smashed.

“At 8-4 down it was horrible, I was playing terribly and the more I tried, it wasn’t happening. I had to relax, try and enjoy it a bit and just throw my darts, and I just dug in.

“It was a battle but I’m through to the next round and I’ve got to take the positives out of it – and I’ve got a few days to put things right.”

The first round concludes on Monday night with the final four games, including 2013 finalist Adrian Lewis’ clash with debutant Andrew Gilding.

World Championship finalist Peter Wright meets another debutant, Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting, before Mervyn King takes on Kim Huybrechts and Gary Anderson plays Jamie Caven.

BetVictor World Matchplay Darts Results

Sunday July 20
Evening Session
First Round
Justin Pipe 8-10 Michael Smith
Wes Newton 11-9 Ronnie Baxter
Phil Taylor 10-4 Darren Webster
Raymond van Barneveld 10-4 Vincent van der Voort

Monday July 21
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
First Round
Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting
Mervyn King v Kim Huybrechts
Adrian Lewis v Andrew Gilding
Gary Anderson v Jamie Caven

First Round – Best of 19 legs
* Each game must be won by two clear legs, with up to a maximum of five additional legs being played before the sixth “extra” leg is sudden-death.

Justin Pipe v Michael Smith
0-0 – Justin Pipe wins the bull and will throw first.
1-0 – Pipe lands a 180 before hitting a superb 127 finish, on double eight, to win the opening leg.
1-1 – Smith levels by finishing 54 on tops.
1-2 – Smith hits a 180 to leave 83, and when Pipe misses double 16 and two darts at double eight, the former World Youth Champion takes out the finish on the bullseye to break throw.
2-2 – The roles are reversed, with Pipe’s third 180 of the game leaving 36 before he returns to hit double 18 after the St Helens ace misses tops for a 117 checkout.
3-2 – Pipe misses tops to take out 78, but Smith wires the same double for a 120 combination to allow his opponent back in to regain the lead.
3-3 – Smith levels by taking out 112, using an improvised combination of single 20, treble 18 and double 19 after his first dart blocked the treble 20 bed.
4-3 – Smith opens with a 180, but is punished for missing his chance to break as Pipe takes out 90 on double 15.
4-4 – Smith lands his third maximum, and takes out 64 on double eight to level.
5-4 – Pipe finishes 104 on double 12 as he moves bacl ahead.
5-5 – Pipe fires in a 180 in vain as Smith pins double six to square the contest once more.
6-5 – Tops edges Pipe back in front.
6-6 – Smith replies on double top to level matters.
7-6 – Pipe once again moves ahead by holding throw.
7-7 – Smith lands a maximum, and though Pipe posts a 177 to leave 24, the youngster takes out 78 on double 12 for a 14-dart finish.
8-7 – Pipe initially misses double six and three, bursting his score, but returns on double six to regain his edge.
8-8 – Smith fires in a sixth maximum as he is first to a double, with Pipe’s sixth 180 coming in vain as his opponent checks out double eight.
8-9 – Smith secures the first break of throw for 15 legs, taking out 65 on tops.
8-10 – Smith lands his seventh maximum of the game, before landing double five to secure an impressive win.

Wes Newton v Ronnie Baxter
0-0 – Ronnie Baxter wins the bull and will throw first.
0-1 – Baxter holds throw to win the game’s opening leg.
1-1 – Newton hits back to level.
1-2 – Double two sees Baxter edge back ahead.
1-3 – Newton is punished for his missed doubles as Baxter steps in on double top.
1-4 – Double two again rescues Baxter as he takes a three-leg cushion.
2-4 – Newton replies by finishing 52.
2-5 – Baxter lands a 180, and when Newton misses double 16 for a 149 finish the local favourite steps in on double 19.
3-5 – Double 16 sees Newton cut the gap once more.
3-6 – Double five moves Baxter back into a three-leg lead.
4-6 – Newton finishes 113 to hit back.
4-7 – Baxter hits a 180 and punishes further misses from Newton on double nine.
4-8 – Baxter again lands double five as he breaks throw.
5-8 – Both players struggle to land the winning double before Newton checks out double two to break throw.
6-8 – Newton finishes 110 on double 16 as he halves the deficit.
7-8 – Newton’s comeback continues as he hits a 180 and breaks throw on double ten.
8-8 – Newton misses the bull for an 85 finish, but Baxter is unable to pin double 16 and allows his Fleetwood rival back in on double eight to level the game.
9-8 – Newton moves ahead for the first time by taking out 66 on tops.
9-9 – Baxter opens with a 180 and finishes 81 for a 14-darter to send the game into a tie-break, with the game needing to be won by two clear legs.
10-9 – Double 16 for Newton sees him break again to move a leg away from victory.
11-9 – Baxter misses three darts at tops, and Newton completes an amazing comeback by taking out a stunning 144 checkout.

Phil Taylor v Darren Webster
0-0 – Phil Taylor wins the bull and will throw first.
0-1 – Taylor – using new titanium stems in his darts in competition for the first time – lands a 177 but misses two darts to win the opening leg as Webster breaks throw on double five.
1-1 – The pair trade 180s before Taylor breaks back on double 16.
2-1 – Double 16 sees Taylor move ahead.
2-2 – Webster opens with six perfect darts, and though he is unable to complete a nine-darter he returns to finish 86 to level.
3-2 – Taylor regains the edge by holding throw.
4-2 – Taylor opens with 180 and 177 to match Webster’s earlier six perfect darts, only to miss out himself on another nine-darter on the Blackpool stage, with the Norfolk ace missing double top to steal the leg before the reigning champion posts double four to break.
5-2 – Webster misses the bull for a 170 finish and then bursts his score on his return, allowing Taylor in on tops.
6-2 – Taylor lands a 180 to leave 28 before hitting double 14 with a tricky third dart to break throw again and move four legs clear.
7-2 – Taylor fires in another maximum and finishes 68 on double four to continue his charge with a fifth successive leg.
7-3 – Webster responds to win his first leg in six, firing in a 180 and tops to hit back.
8-3 – Taylor lands another 177 score to leave 12, and when Webster misses double 15 to finish 90, the world number two posts double three to move two legs away from the win.
8-4 – Taylor misses three darts at tops, and Webster finishes 92 on the bull.
9-4 – Taylor moves to the brink of victory with a brilliant 132 checkout, hitting two bullseyes and double 16.
10-4 – Taylor hits a 180 to leave 12, and then punishes misses from Webster on double six.

Raymond van Barneveld v Vincent van der Voort
0-0 – Raymond van Barneveld wins the bull and will throw first.
1-0 – Both players land 180s before van Barneveld hits tops for a 13-darter to open the game.
2-0 – van der Voort lands another maximum but misses his chance to level as van Barneveld breaks on double ten.
3-0 – van Barneveld fires in a 180 and hits double 16 to move three legs up.
4-0 – The heavy scoring continues as both players hit 180s, before van Barneveld posts double ten to move four legs clear.
4-1 – van Barneveld misses his chance to win a fifth successive leg as van der Voort returns from missed doubles of his own to pin double five to get off the mark.
5-1 – van Barneveld lands a 180 and hits double eight to regain his cushion.
6-1 – The pair trade 180s before van Barneveld finishes 64 to move five legs clear.
6-2 – Both players land a maximum in the same leg for the third time in the game before van der Voort finishes 75 to hit back.
7-2 – van der Voort opens with 180 and 140 only to see van Barneveld finish 121 on double 18 for a 12-dart leg.
8-2 – van Barneveld lands a 180 and finishes double nine to move six legs clear of his fellow countryman – despite van der Voort missing tops to steal the leg.
9-2 – van Barneveld kicks off the leg with a 180 and finishes double 12 with his third dart as he moves to the brink of the win.
9-3 – Double five sees van der Voort keep his hopes alive.
9-4 – van der Voort lands a seventh 180 of the game, and finishes double seven for a 13-darter to continue his fightback.
10-4 – van Barneveld secures victory and a second round place by finishing 62 on double 16.

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