PHIL TAYLOR stormed into round two of the Players Championship with a superb 6-3 win over Michael van Gerwen on Friday night.

Taylor announced his return to Purfleet’s Circus Tavern, where he won 11 of his 14 World Championship titles, with a powerhouse display to see off the teenage Dutchman.

He averaged 108.49 in taking the victory, which sets up a meeting with another Dutch ace, Vincent van der Voort, in Saturday afternoon’s second round.

“I can play better but a win is a win and you want to come here to perform,” said Taylor.

“I have so many memories of this place and now I want to create some more by winning this title.”

Raymond van Barneveld, who was defeated by Taylor in the World Championship final four weeks ago, made his return to action with a strong 6-4 victory over Andy Jenkins, averaging just under 100 in the process.

Van Barneveld now takes on Andy Smith in the second round, with the Englishman having hit finishes of 161 and 155 in seeing off Colin Osborne 6-1 earlier on Friday.

World number two James Wade produced a solid start to his challenge with a 6-2 defeat of Steve Beaton, while Andy Hamilton saw off Peter Manley by the same scoreline.

Alan Tabern, the number three seed after claiming a hat-trick of Players Championship wins in 2008, powered past Adrian Lewis 6-3.

Kevin Painter and Robert Thornton prevailed in deciding leg shoot-outs in their respective clashes with Alex Roy and Mark Dudbridge.

Two former Purfleet World Champions collide on Saturday, when 1994 World Champion Dennis Priestley takes on the 2003 winner John Part, after they both picked up 6-3 wins against Steve Maish and Denis Ovens respectively.

Wayne Mardle saved the day’s biggest comeback for the final game, fighting back from 4-1 down to win 6-4 against Mark Walsh and set up a last 16 date with Mervyn King. Players Championship
First Round
Afternoon Session
Vincent van der Voort 6-2 Chris Mason
Colin Lloyd 6-1 Jamie Caven
Ronnie Baxter 6-4 Tony Eccles
Wayne Jones 6-2 Terry Jenkins
Mervyn King 6-2 Felix McBrearty
Andy Smith 6-1 Colin Osborne
Dennis Priestley 6-3 Steve Maish

Evening Session
Kevin Painter 6-5 Alex Roy
Alan Tabern 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Andy Hamilton 6-2 Peter Manley
James Wade 6-2 Steve Beaton
Robert Thornton 6-5 Mark Dudbridge
Phil Taylor 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 Andy Jenkins
John Part 6-3 Denis Ovens
Wayne Mardle 6-4 Mark Walsh

Saturday January 30
Second Round
Afternoon Session
12.45pm – Alan Tabern v Robert Thornton
1.35pm – Dennis Priestley v John Part
2.10pm – Andy Smith v Raymond van Barneveld
2.45pm – James Wade v Kevin Painter
3.20pm – Mervyn King v Wayne Mardle
3.55pm – Ronnie Baxter v Wayne Jones
4.30pm – Colin Lloyd v Andy Hamilton
5.05pm – Phil Taylor v Vincent van der Voort

Evening Session
6.15pm – Priestley/Part v Tabern/Thornton
7.25pm – Wade/Painter v Smith/van Barneveld
8.35pm – Baxter/Jones v King/Mardle
9.45pm – Taylor/van der Voort v Lloyd/Hamilton


WAYNE JONES sent world number five Terry Jenkins packing from the Players Championship with a 6-2 victory.

Jenkins crashed out in the first round of the European Championship and World Championship at the end of last year, and suffered a similar fate on his return to the Circus Tavern.

Jones did the damage in the first half of the game, opening up a 4-1 lead at the break before closing out victory.

A 96 checkout won him the first leg against the throw, before he took the second in 15 darts to double the advantage.

Double top got Jenkins off the mark, but Jones included a 127 checkout in taking a three-leg lead at 4-1.

Jenkins broke back in 14 darts, but Jones hit 180s in back-to-back legs to wrap up the win, taking out 67 and then a 44 for a 12-darter in the final leg.


KEVIN PAINTER won a thrilling first round encounter at the Players Championship with a deciding leg victory over Alex Roy.

Roy was on course to win the match having led 5-2, but Painter took the remaining four legs of the match to secure a place in the last 16.

Painter won the opening leg of the match with throw, despite a 180 from his opponent.

He then had opportunities to break Roy’s throw in the second leg, but he missed the two opportunities he had and Roy levelled.

Painter hit a 14-dart finish in the third leg to lead 2-1, before Roy levelled once again with a two-dart 56 finish.

In the fifth leg, Roy broke throw with a clinical 100 checkout, after Painter had missed three darts to hold throw.

Roy, who won a Players Championship event in Irvine last October, won the sixth to open up a two-leg gap, and then hit a superb 114 finish to go 5-2 up and look the likely winner.

But Painter came back strongly, winning the eighth leg with a two-dart 65 and the next to reduce the deficit to 5-4.

The man from Daventry then broke his opponent’s throw to square the game with a timely 105 checkout.

Painter had the momentum in the deciding leg and duly wrapped up victory by landing double eight.

“At the break I was 3-2 down but should have been 4-1 up and took heart from that,” he said. “At 5-2 I thought I was gone but kept plugging away and at right at the death the pressure told.

“I felt I was playing well and scoring well but not checking out and when I did I managed to get back into it.”

Roy admitted: “I didn’t start well in any leg but took my chances. I probably didn’t deserve to be 3-2 up but Kevin let me in and I took my chances in the first half.”


ALAN TABERN dumped Adrian Lewis from the Players Championship with a 6-3 win at the Circus Tavern.

Tabern, who is seeded three for this event after his hat-trick of wins in Players Championships last year, was never behind during the contest and came through against an under-par Lewis.

Tabern took an early lead by landing double 16, and then doubled the advantage in the second leg by landing double six after both players had wasted earlier opportunities.

The St Helens man then went 3-0 up before Lewis got on the scoreboard with a two-dart 64 finish in the fourth, which also included a maximum.

Tabern went 4-1 ahead after landing double 12 before Lewis briefly came to life with an excellent 121 checkout.

But Tabern hit a 121 finish of his own in the next leg to move 5-2 up and within sight of the winning line.

Tabern was off-target with three darts at doubles for the match in the eighth, and Lewis hit a 110 finish to keep his hopes alive.

But that was as good as it got for the world number seven as Tabern wrapped up victory in the next on double four.

“It didn’t feel like a comfortable win,” said Tabern. “He can either beat you up or if you’re playing well you can beat him up.

“I was lucky that he didn’t produce his best form but maybe I stopped him producing his best form too, and I kept in and produced a workmanlike performance.”


ANDY HAMILTON overcame the challenge of Peter Manley with an impressive 6-2 win in the first round of the Players Championship.

Hamilton was never really troubled during the match and will now take on Colin Lloyd in an eye-catching second round tie on Saturday afternoon.

Hamilton broke throw in the opening leg of the match by landing double ten after Manley missed two darts at the same double.

The Stoke ace then took the second leg to go 2-0 up before hitting a maximum in the third followed by double eight in taking the third.

Hamilton moved further away from Manley by winning the fourth leg before the three-time World Championship finalist hit a 101 finish to take his first leg of the match.

Both players held their throws in the next two legs to leave Hamilton 5-2 ahead and the Stoke player wrapped up the win in the next leg by hitting double ten.

“Peter gave me some chances and I took them,” said Hamilton. “I’m throwing well, throwing consistently but this wasn’t my best game.

“Hopefully I will settle down and score better on Saturday. I’m not scared of Colin and I’ll look forward to playing him.”


JAMES WADE ended Steve Beaton’s hopes with a 6-2 victory in the first round of the Players Championship at the Circus Tavern.

Beaton had opportunities to go 3-1 up in the early stages of the match, but those wasted chances proved be costly as the UK Open champion took complete command.

Wade won the first leg of the match before Beaton held throw with an excellent 106 finish, after Wade missed bullseye for what would have been a ‘showpiece’ 125 checkout.

Beaton then won the third leg against the darts after Wade had missed four opportunities to hold throw.

But Wade immediately broke back to level the match with a two-dart 61 finish after Beaton missed three darts at doubles for a 3-1 lead, and double top put him back in front.

Beaton hit his second maximum of the game in the sixth leg, but wasted two more chances at doubles to level.

The world number two then won the seventh to go 5-2 up and wrapped up the match in fine style with a 126 checkout, finishing on the bullseye to set up a clash with Kevin Painter in round two.


ROBERT THORNTON came out on top in a dramatic final-leg thriller to edge out Mark Dudbridge 6-5 in the first round of the Players Championship.

The two were locked throughout a tight battle, with the opening eight legs going with throw before Thornton took a 5-4 lead, Dudbridge levelled but then fell in the decider.

Both players missed a number of opportunities to win the first leg, with Dudbridge managing to hold throw landing double five with his last dart.

The second leg followed a similar pattern but this time it was the Scotsman who levelled by hitting double four.

Both players held their throws in the next two and that sequence continued as Dudbridge converted a two-dart 52 finish to go ahead 3-2.

The Bristolian then had opportunities break throw in the sixth leg, but three misses gave Thornton a chance, and he landed double five with his last dart.

Dudbridge held throw to ahead for the fourth time in the match, and had a dart at bullseye to go 5-3 ahead in the next.

But he was unable to convert that opportunity and Thornton levelled again make it eight consecutive legs that had been held with throw.

The deadlock was finally broken in the ninth leg when Thornton produced an excellent 118 checkout on double 19 to go into the next throwing for the match.

However, he missed a dart at double top in the tenth leg and Dudbridge managed to break back after hitting three consecutive 140s.

Dudbridge had the advantage of throw in the deciding leg, but Thornton quickly took that away with scores of 140 and 180, his fourth of the game, before going on to land double top and book a last 16 clash against Alan Tabern.


PHIL TAYLOR stormed into round two of the Players Championship with a superb 6-3 win over Michael van Gerwen.

Taylor, making his first televised appearance since he became World Champion for the 14th time at the start of January, ended the match with a three dart average of 108.49 in setting up a clash with Vincent van der Voort on Saturday.

The number one seed started in superb style with a 140 checkout to take an early lead with a 12-darter, but van Gerwen replied to take level at 1-1 with the aid of a maximum.

Taylor took the third leg to move ahead again, but missed three darts at double 16 to break throw in the fourth, and the teenager hit double top with his last dart to level again.

Taylor hit a superb 11-dart finish to lead 3-2, and then landed a 12-darter, which was completed with a clinical 136 checkout, to pull clear.

Taylor moved to within touching distance of victory when he held throw to go 5-2 up, but van Gerwen kept the match alive by converting a two-dart 60 finish.

But in the ninth leg Taylor wrapped up the match by landing double 12 at the first time of asking to seal a strong start to his challenge for the £50,000 title.

“Michael is a great player and I knew I had to start well,” said Taylor. “In this short format, with only legs and no sets, you cannot get behind because you can be in trouble.

“I can play better but a win is a win and you want to come here to perform.

“I have so many memories of this place and now I want to create some more by winning this title.”


RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD held off the challenge of Andy Jenkins with a 6-4 first round win in the Players Championship.

Van Barneveld, seeded tenth for the event after what was by his standards a disappointing season in Players Championships last year, will now take on Andy Smith in the last 16.

The Dutch ace had not played since reaching the World Championship final, but continued the form he showed at Alexandra Palace to progress.

Jenkins opened up an early lead by converting an 80 finish after the Dutchman missed two darts at double 16 to break.

Van Barneveld, returning to the scene of his 2007 World Championship triumph, took the second leg to level and then took the lead in the next, which included six perfect darts with back-to-back 180s.

Jenkins levelled the game again at 2-2 with a three-dart 84 finish, but van Barneveld regained the lead with an 81 checkout to break his opponent’s throw for the second time in the match.

The world number three had a dart at double eight to go 4-2 ahead after the break, but was off-target and Jenkins squared the game once again on the same bed.

Van Barneveld broke throw once again to move 4-3 ahead, and then won the eighth leg to go one leg away from the winning line.

Jenkins kept the game alive in the next by landing double three with his last dart, but a missed bullseye to ensure a decider proved costly as van Barneveld hit double ten to record victory.

“I’ve known Andy for years and know what he can do and it was a strange game which I’m very happy to win,” said van Barneveld.

“I’m still undefeated at the Circus Tavern, which is great, but Andy Smith played really well in the first round and I look forward to playing him on Saturday.”


JOHN PART overcame the challenge of Denis Ovens with a 6-3 victory in the first round of the Players Championship.

The Canadian will now take on fellow former World Champion Dennis Priestley on Saturday afternoon in his bid for a place in the quarter-finals.

Part capitalised on seven missed doubles from his opponent in the opening leg to take an early lead, and soon doubled his advantage by landing double top.

Part should have gone 3-0 up after hitting his first maximum of the match, but he was unable to land the winning double and Ovens managed to hold throw with a 78 finish.

Part, who defeated Phil Taylor at the Circus Tavern to win the 2003 World Championship, won the fourth leg to go 3-1 up, before Ovens opened the fifth with two maximums.

The nine-dart finish was not to be, but he won the leg in 12 darts to go into the break just a leg behind at 3-2.

Ovens hit his third maximum in two legs but lost the sixth leg as Part restored his advantage by landing double 16.

Ovens managed to win the seventh to pull back to 4-3, but Part took out consecutive two-dart 52 finishes in the next two legs to win the match and book a place in the second round.


WAYNE MARDLE produced a brilliant comeback to reel off five straight legs and defeat Mark Walsh in the first round of the Players Championship.

The Essex favourite looked dead and buried at Purfleet’s Circus Tavern when he trailed 3-0 and 4-1 to in-form Walsh.

But he strung together five superb legs to book a last 16 clash against Mervyn King on Saturday in a stylish second half to the game.

Walsh started in confident with a 66 finish in the first leg, followed by a 14-darter to double his lead.

Walsh, who hit a nine-darter in Gibraltar two weeks ago, hit double top for a 3-0 lead before Mardle managed to take his first leg of the match.

But Walsh restored his three-leg advantage by landing double 13 to look on-course for a comfortable victory at the break.

Mardle hit a 96 finish in the sixth leg, and then landed double 16 to reduce the deficit to 4-3 after Walsh missed a dart at double top for a 105 checkout.

Mardle completed the comeback by landing double 10 to level, and then broke Walsh’s throw to lead for the first time in the match with an 81 finish for a 12-darter.

Both players hit maximums in the tenth leg, but momentum carried Mardle through and landed double eight for a 14-dart finish to seal a remarkable victory.