DENNIS PRIESTLEY produced the comeback of his life to reach the quarter-finals of the Players Championship on Saturday afternoon.

The two-time World Champion came from 5-0 down to defeat John Part 6-5 at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, following up his fightback to see off Steve Maish in round one with an even greater display.

He now meets Scotland’s Robert Thornton, a 6-2 winner against Alan Tabern, in the quarter-finals on Saturday evening after punishing four missed match darts from Part to progress.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my career before,” said Priestley, who missed 12 darts at a double in the first three legs.

“It was remarkable but I should never have been 5-0 down – I couldn’t hit a double to save my life but it’s turned out hunky-dory in the end!”

Two other Purfleet World Champions joined Priestley in the last eight, with Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld again impressing.

Taylor produced a second successive 108-plus average of the tournament in a 6-3 win over Vincent van der Voort, who had traded 161 checkouts with Taylor early in the game to ensure a share of the £2,000 high finish prize should that not be bettered.

Van Barneveld, meanwhile, whitewashed Andy Smith 6-0 to book his place in the quarters, where he faces world number two James Wade.

Wade was a narrow 6-5 winner against Kevin Painter in a thriller, while Mervyn King and Ronnie Baxter will clash after their victories against Wayne Mardle and Wayne Jones.

Colin Lloyd will take on Taylor in the other quarter-final, following his impressive 6-2 defeat of Andy Hamilton as he produced a 100-plus average of his own. Players Championship
Second Round
Robert Thornton 6-2 Alan Tabern
Dennis Priestley 6-5 John Part
Raymond van Barneveld 6-0 Andy Smith
James Wade 6-5 Kevin Painter
Mervyn King 6-4 Wayne Mardle
Ronnie Baxter 6-4 Wayne Jones
Colin Lloyd 6-2 Andy Hamilton
Phil Taylor 6-3 Vincent van der Voort

Evening Session (6.15pm)
Dennis Priestley v Robert Thornton
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Ronnie Baxter v Mervyn King
Phil Taylor v Colin Lloyd


ROBERT THORNTON romped into the quarter-finals of the Players Championship with a 6-2 victory over Alan Tabern.

The only exchanges proved to be a nip and tuck affair, but the Scot pulled clear from 2-2 to reel off four straight legs for the win.

Thornton snatched the opening leg against the darts with a confidence-boosting 103 checkout, with his opponent waiting on double 12.

Tabern, who impressed in defeating Adrian Lewis in the first round, managed to break back immediately to level but lost the third leg after he was unable to convert six darts at doubles and Thornton stepped in by landing double five with his last dart.

The St Helens man hit his second maximum of the game in the fourth leg and managed to level after Thornton missed two darts at double top to complete a 100 finish.

The Scotsman, who won the inaugural Australian Open Players Championship last August, broke his opponent’s throw for a third time with a 74 finish to lead 3-2 at the interval.

Thornton then stepped up a gear after the break, landing his first maximum of the game in the process of taking the sixth leg, and then hit double top in the next to move into a 5-2 lead.

And the end was swift as Thornton won the eighth in 13 darts, hitting double 18 at the first time of asking to book a quarter-final berth.


DENNIS PRIESTLEY produced another incredible comeback to battle from 5-0 down and edge out John Part in a decider to reach the Players Championship quarter-finals.

After overhauling a 3-1 deficit to win 6-3 in the first round, he climbed an even greater mountain to see off the three-time World Champion.

Part made a superb start to power into a 5-0 lead as Priestley had a nightmare with his finishing, but was pegged back leg by leg as the Yorkshireman set up a quarter-final on Saturday night with Robert Thornton.

Part started in confident mood with a 13-darter to open the game and then doubled his lead after Priestley missed six darts at doubles in the second leg, having hit two maximums earlier in the leg.

The same fate fell upon Priestley again in the third leg as he missed six more darts at doubles and the Canadian hit a two-dart 60 finish to lead 3-0.

A 101 checkout in the fourth leg and double 16 in the fifth took Part into a 5-0 lead and the Canadian appeared to coasting to a straight-forward victory.

Priestley managed to win his first leg of the match in the sixth and then produced a superb 156 checkout to reduce the deficit to 5-2.

Part missed a dart at bullseye which would gave given him the match in the eighth, and Priestley hit a pressure 93 finish on the bull to keep the match alive.

Part missed two further darts for the match at double top in the next, and Priestley won that leg and then broke the Canadian’s throw to take the match into a deciding leg.

Priestley had advantage of throw in the decider but Part had another shot for the match after hitting two treble 19s on 126, but was off-target with double six and the Yorkshireman stepped up to land double top and complete an unlikely victory.


RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD produced a comprehensive performance to whitewash Andy Smith 6-0 in the second round of the Players Championship.

Smith enjoyed an excellent victory over Colin Osborne in first round but never got into his stride as the five-time World Champion dominated throughout.

Van Barneveld held throw in the opening leg with a solid 15-dart finish, before breaking Smith to lead 2-0 after the Englishman wasted his chances to level.

Van Barneveld narrowly missed the bullseye for a 170 checkout in the third, but returned to the oche to hit double four and move 3-0 up.

Van Barneveld secured a second break of throw in the fourth leg, before converting a two-dart 96 finish to move one leg away from victory.

Smith had no answer, and the Dutchman wrapped up victory in the next by landing double top to move into the quarter-finals.


JAMES WADE edged a final leg thriller to end Kevin Painter’s hopes at the Players Championship.

There was nothing to separate the duo in a tight contest which went all the way to the wire – with Painter missing the bullseye in the decider before Wade set up a quarter-final with Raymond van Barneveld.

Wade hit a maximum in the opening leg of the game, but it was Painter who took the lead on double top.

Wade soon levelled with a 15-dart finish, before Painter converted a two-dart 80 checkout to win the third leg in 14 darts.

Wade won the fourth but missed five opportunities to break Painter’s throw in the next and the Daventry-based player managed to hold by landing double four with his third dart.

Wade squared the game in the sixth with a 14-darter, but Painter won the next leg to lead 4-3, before the world number two levelled again.

A 13-darter put Painter a leg away from the match, but double top from Wade ensured a deciding 11th leg.

Painter had the throw in the final leg, and despite a slow start was first to the double – only to miss the bull for a 121 finish before Wade pinned double four.


MERVYN KING reached the quarter-finals of the Players Championship by ending the hopes of local favourite Wayne Mardle with a 6-4 triumph.

The world number six started the match well with a maximum in the process of taking a 1-0 lead, before Mardle hit an excellent 119 checkout – set up by a 177 – to level the game.

King won the third leg despite a maximum from Mardle, who squared matters by landing a pressure double two with his last dart.

King took a 3-2 lead before breaking Mardle’s throw in the sixth leg with a clinical 68 finish.

But Mardle, who came back from behind to defeat Mark Walsh, immediately broke back by hitting double eight and then won the eighth leg with the aid of his third maximum of the game to level at four-all.

King went 5-4 up by converting a 76 finish and then broke his opponent’s throw for a second time in the tenth leg, hitting double eight to win the match.


RONNIE BAXTER came from behind for a second time in two matches to reach the quarter-finals of the Players Championship at the Circus Tavern with a 6-4 defeat of Wayne Jones.

Baxter was 3-1 down and again appeared in danger of going out of the tournament, but he produced an excellent performance during the second half of the game to set up a tie with Mervyn King.

Jones broke throw Baxter’s throw at the start of the match with 68 finish, and soon doubled his lead by taking the second leg with the aid of a maximum.

Baxter, who came from 4-1 down to defeat Tony Eccles in the first round, reduced the deficit to 2-1 after landing double top, but Jones hit his second 180 in the process of restoring his two leg lead.

Baxter held throw in the fifth leg with a 104 finish, and repeated the same checkout in the next to break Jones’ throw and level at three-all.

Baxter continued his winning run of legs by landing double 17 to go 4-3 up and lead for the first time in the match.

An 85 finish took Baxter one leg away from the match before Jones managed to stop the rot by landing double eight.

But a missed dart at double 16 in the next proved costly as Baxter stepped in to hit a 120 ‘Shanghai’ finish to record victory.


COLIN LLOYD marched into the quarter-finals of the Players Championship with an impressive 6-2 defeat of Andy Hamilton.

Lloyd produced one his best televised performances for some time to reach the last eight, ending the match with an average of 100.51.

The local man started match well to take a 1-0 lead with a 14-dart finish before Hamilton held throw after Lloyd missed a dart at double top to break.

Both players held their throws in the next two legs before Lloyd hit his first maximum of the game, followed by a two-dart 64 finish to move 3-2 up.

Lloyd then broke his opponent’s throw for the first time in the match with a 14-dart leg, and a 13-darter put the former world number one a leg away from victory.

Lloyd continued the momentum in the eighth leg with a second maximum of the game and then wrapped up victory with a 72 finish to record an excellent win.


PHIL TAYLOR came through a high-quality encounter to defeat Vincent van der Voort 6-3 in the second round of the Players Championship at the Circus Tavern.

Taylor powered past Michael van Gerwen in the first round produced another superb performance to end the match with an average of 108.63 against another Dutch challenger.

Both players started the match in incredible fashion, van der Voort taking the opening leg with a fantastic 161 checkout only for Taylor to reply in kind by hitting the same finish to level the match at 1-1 – potentially earning both a share of the £2,000 high checkout bonus.

The 14-time World Champion then broke throw in the third leg and then hit double 18 in the fourth to move into a 3-1 lead.

The Dutchman won the fifth leg by landing double eight for a 14-darter, but Taylor restored his two leg advantage by holding throw to lead 4-2.

Van der Voort hit two maximums in an 11-darter in taking the seventh, before Taylor landed double 16 to move one leg away from the match.

Van der Voort hit another maximum in the ninth leg but wasted five darts at doubles to win the leg and the Taylor stepped in to land double top and set up an exciting quarter-final tie against Colin Lloyd.

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