RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD produced another piece of history with a sensational nine-darter at the StanJames.com World Matchplay on Saturday night.

The Dutchman fired in a perfect leg during his 10-1 victory over Denis Ovens on the opening night of the £400,000 tournament – emulating Phil Taylor’s achievement in landing the event’s only previous nine-dart finish in 2002.

Van Barneveld has enjoyed a two-month break from darts since the end of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts in May – an event which also featured a nine-dart finish from the Dutchman.

And, inspired by watching Holland compete in football’s World Cup final in Johannesburg last Sunday, van Barneveld delighted a 2,000-strong crowd at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool with his nine-dart finish.

The achievement came in the tenth leg of the match, as he posted back-to-back 180s and then took out 141 with treble 20, treble 19 and double 12.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said van Barneveld. “I wasn’t playing too well in the first part of the game, in the first five or six legs I couldn’t find the treble 20.

“I don’t know where the nine-darter came but I’m so happy to have hit it. The feeling gets better every time.

“Its amazing. It’s only one leg, but it really helps you out to hit that nine-darter and see the crowd and feel that energy from them.”

Van Barneveld was joined in the second round by fellow countryman Vincent van der Voort, who spoiled Dennis Priestley’s 60th birthday celebrations with a 10-6 win over the three-time World Matchplay finalist.

Priestley had reached the landmark age on Friday, but paid for some costly missed doubles as van der Voort powered home checkouts of 120, 106 and 157 on his way to the win.

Blackpool-based Ronnie Baxter showed his support for the town’s Premier League-bound football team by sporting an orange shirt for his 10-7 victory over Jamie Caven.

The 1998 World Matchplay finalist benefitted from a mid-game surge to break from four-all to lead 7-4, before holding out to set up a second round clash with Wayne Jones on Wednesday.

Wolverhampton’s Jones tasted victory at the World Matchplay for the first time in four attempts with a gritty 10-8 win over Colin Osborne.

The first round continues on Sunday, with the four matches including 2007 champion James Wade up against Andy Smith, local favourite Wes Newton facing Alan Tabern, Andy Hamilton’s meeting with Co Stompe and Adrian Lewis against debutant Mark Webster.

StanJames.com World Matchplay
Saturday July 17

First Round
Dennis Priestley 6-10 Vincent van der Voort
Colin Osborne 8-10 Wayne Jones
Raymond van Barneveld 10-1 Denis Ovens – Raymond van Barneveld hits nine-darter!
Ronnie Baxter 10-7 Jamie Caven

Sunday July 18 (7pm start)
First Round
Andy Hamilton v Co Stompe
Adrian Lewis v Mark Webster
James Wade v Andy Smith
Alan Tabern v Wes Newton

VINCENT VAN DER VOORT 10-6 DENNIS PRIESTLEY
VINCENT VAN DER VOORT wrecked Dennis Priestley’s 60th birthday party, defeating the veteran 10-6 in the opening game of the StanJames.com World Matchplay.

Priestley celebrated his milestone birthday on Friday before extending his ever-present record at the Winter Gardens with a 17th challenge in the event.

However, his bid to finally claim glory – having lost three times in finals – was ended in the first round as the Dutchman produced the more clinical performance to progress to the last 16.

Priestley defied a 180 from van der Voort, with his opening throw, to win the opening leg with a 73 finish, only to see the Dutch ace win the next four and take command of the game.

Priestley missed the bull in the third leg as van der Voort posted double top, which was followed by checkouts of 76 and 120 as he led 3-1, with the two-time World Champion then hitting a 180 in leg five but missing five darts for the leg, allowing double four to leave him three behind.

Priestley hit 180s in taking the next two to reduce the gap to 4-3, and was sat on 58 as van der Voort finished a superb 106 under pressure to prevent his opponent levelling.

That proved crucial, with Priestley opening the ninth with scores of 180 and 140 before landing double top, and he finished 98 to win the 11th leg only to find himself 6-5 down.

Double eight edged van der Voort back into a two-leg lead, before he produced the game’s most inspired moment, finishing 157 with Priestley waiting on 76 to mve 8-5 up.

Six misses from the Dutchman, a rarity given his previous accuracy on the doubles, proved costly as Priestley posted double ten to stay in the hunt.

A third 180 of the game helped the Dutchman move into a 9-6 lead, and he punished three misses from Priestley to seal victory on double top in the next.

“It’s so hard to play against Dennis because you can never get into a rhythm,” admitted van der Voort. “I’m a fast player but you’re always waiting for him.

“I started well but you have so much time to think and you’re thinking about your game. I felt great before the match but didn’t show it.

“Some of my finishes were great but I was up and down and missed some chances to make it easier for myself but the 106 and 157 were very important.”

He faces James Wade or Andy Smith in the second round on Wednesday, and added: “I’m really pleased to get through to the second round and I’ll go back to Holland for a few days now before returning for the second round, and whoever it is I’ll hope to give them a good game.

“Last year I reached the quarter-finals and this year I want to do better than that, but I’m in the second round and on my way.”

Priestley conceded: “It wasn’t the Dennis Priestley of old and if I was I wouldn’t have given away as many chances.

“You’ve got to be consistent and clinical and take your chances when you get them. I gave a lot of legs away but the scoring was there in patches, I hit a few 180s and hope the fans enjoyed the game.

“I didn’t try to be cynical and slow things down too much, I played at my tempo and he was good enough to beat me.

“He had some great finishes – the one that killed me was the 157, because I could have got a lot closer if it went 7-6 but it was 8-5.”

Priestley is expected to scale down his commitments on the PDC circuit having passed his 60th birthday, but he hopes to return to the Winter Gardens for an 18th year next summer.

“It won’t be my last appearance as long as I stay in the rankings to qualify,” he said. “I’ll take it as it comes and if I’m in the criteria to be invited I’ll come back – as a Yorkshireman I’d never turn down money or the chance to win another big title.”

WAYNE JONES 10-8 COLIN OSBORNE
WAYNE JONES picked up his first StanJames.com World Matchplay victory with a 10-8 defeat of Colin Osborne at the Winter Gardens on Saturday night.

Jones has been a first round loser in Blackpool for the previous three years, but finally stumbled over the winning line with an edgy defeat of the 2009 UK Open finalist.

Both players struggled with their doubles throughout a scrappy contest before the Wolverhampton man prevailed by coming from 7-6 down to win four of the final five legs.

The game’s opening leg went against the throw as Jones capitalised to take first blood – only to then miss three darts for the second as Osborne took out 83 in two darts to level.

The next two legs also went against the darts before Osborne fired in a 180 and double 16 to win the fifth for a 3-2 lead.

Jones levelled on double 12 before Osborne finished 96 – but four missed doubles in leg nine allowed Jones in for a second successive leg as he nudged 5-4 up.

Osborne again checked out 96, squaring the game, and after the next two were shared he took out 97 this time to move 7-6 up.

Jones hit back with a 120 finish, and stepped in to take the 15th leg to crucially edge 8-7 up before a 101 checkout put him a leg away from the win.

A miss at double 16 allowed Osborne to keep the match alive, but four ton-plus scores from Jones saw him first to a finish in the next, and he sealed the win on double top.

“It’s nice to actually get into the second round,” said Jones. “My form lately is fabulous and I’m annoyed that I didn’t produce that in this game despite getting the win.

“It felt a little like last year because I had my chances against Colin Lloyd and I couldn’t finish.

“This game was following the same pattern, but Colin was struggling. I probably should have beaten him 10-4 or 10-5 but I kept missing too many doubles.

“I’m just glad to get away with it to be honest. It wasn’t great but I’ll try and put it right for the next round because it’s very frustrating.”

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 10-1 DENIS OVENS
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD produced another piece of history with a sensational nine-darter at the StanJames.com World Matchplay on Saturday night.

The Dutchman fired in a perfect leg during his 10-1 victory over Denis Ovens on the opening night of the £400,000 tournament – emulating Phil Taylor’s achievement in landing the event’s only previous nine-dart finish in 2002.

Van Barneveld has enjoyed a two-month break from darts since the end of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts in May – an event which also featured a nine-dart finish from the Dutchman.

And, inspired by watching Holland compete in football’s World Cup final in Johannesburg last Sunday, van Barneveld delighted a 2,000-strong crowd at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool with his nine-dart finish.

The achievement came in the tenth leg of the match, as he posted back-to-back 180s and then took out 141 with treble 20, treble 19 and double 12.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said van Barneveld. “I wasn’t playing too well in the first part of the game, in the first five or six legs I couldn’t find the treble 20.

“I don’t know where the nine-darter came but I’m so happy to have hit it. The feeling gets better every time.

“Its amazing. It’s only one leg, but it really helps you out to hit that nine-darter and see the crowd and feel that energy from them.”

The Dutchman went on to complete the win, having won nine successive legs to pull from one-all to take a 10-1 victory.

Double eight had given van Barneveld the game’s opening leg, and Ovens levelled in the second on double 16.

Van Barneveld posted a 180 in taking the third leg and took advantage of misses from Ovens to win the fourth with the first break of throw.

Finishes of 112 and 142 saw him step up a gear in moving 5-1 up, and he landed a 180 and a 99 finish to take a sixth leg.

Van Barneveld hit further maximums in winning the next two legs, building up in style to his stunning nine-darter, which brought the sold-out Winter Gardens to its feet.

The nine-dart finish left him a leg away from victory at 9-1, and double four in the next leg saw him complete a scintillating start to his World Matchplay challenge.

“The week in Cape Town and Johannesburg did me good,” he added. “I realised that I was missing the darts, and I have got the fire back in my belly and the hunger to win.

“It’s a good result, a brilliant nine-darter and I’m happy with the win. I’ll go back to Holland for a few days now and come back on Wednesday looking to win again.”

RONNIE BAXTER 10-7 JAMIE CAVEN
RONNIE BAXTER delighted his home crowd in Blackpool with a 10-7 defeat of Jamie Caven to progress to the second round of the StanJames.com World Matchplay.

The local hero, who reached the 1998 final at the Winter Gardens, sported an orange shirt in tribute to Blackpool FC’s promotion to the Premier League – and enjoyed success himself with a strong win over Caven.

The pair had shared the game’s opening eight legs, but Baxter took the next three to assume command of the match, and crucially held his advantage to move into the second round.

“It wasn’t a great display but I’m relieved to get through to the second round,” said Baxter. “Nobody wants to lose in the first round of a tournament and fortunately I haven’t – although I feel quite lucky to get past Jamie.

“I could have been 4-1 up early on but “I managed to keep my nose in front of him, built on that and the darts went the right side of the wire when they needed to.”

The game’s first four legs all went against the throw, with a 12-darter from Baxter in the fourth, featuring a 180 and a bullseye finish, being followed by double top as he held throw for the first time for a 3-2 lead.

Caven matched his double top finish and also shared the next two before Baxter found another gear.

The Blackpool favourite’s accuracy on tops helped him to win three successive legs, including a 14-darter to break throw, as he moved 7-4 up.

Double eight gave Caven a fifth leg, but a 180 from the Derby man left him 40 in the next – only for Baxter to land double top for an 8-5 cushion with his key third dart.

A 61 finish from Caven saw him win the 14th leg, only for a missed bullseye – albeit for a 124 finish – to allow double four to move Baxter one leg away from the win.

He missed two match darts at double top in the next, with Caven securing a stay of execution on double five but unable to offer any real resistance in the next as a third 180 and double 16 saw Baxter progress to a second round date with Wayne Jones.

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