PHIL TAYLOR will take on Robert Thornton in the inaugural coral.co.uk Players Championship final on Sunday night.

Taylor continued his relentless charge towards the first Players Championship title and a £50,000 pay-day with a 13-2 victory over Ronnie Baxter in a superb semi-final performance.

The 14-time World Champion gave Baxter little chance, hitting almost 60 percent of his attempts at doubles and averaging over 100 for the third time in the tournament.

“Ronnie didn’t produce what he can and I took advantage of him when I could,” said Taylor. “He’s a fantastic player and deserved to be in the semis but I got on top of him.

“I’m over the moon to be in the final. It’s going to be a cracker because Robert’s played really well this weekend.”

Thornton, meanwhile, reached his first televised PDC final with a 13-10 win over James Wade in the other semi-final.

Wade hit finishes of 151, 111 and 110 in taking a 6-4 lead, but Thornton hit back with six maximums and a 150 checkout in powering through for the victory.

“I missed a few doubles early on and the first half of the match was scrappy but the second half went in my favour,” said Thornton.

“I’m like a back habit, I keep coming back and I hit him at the right time.”

Taylor is 1/20 with sponsors coral.co.uk to take the title, with Thornton an 8/1 outsider, while a nine-darter is also an 8/1 price in the final.

coral.co.uk Players Championship
Semi-Finals
Robert Thornton 13-10 James Wade
Phil Taylor 13-2 Ronnie Baxter

Final
Phil Taylor v Robert Thornton
Best of 31 legs
Live on ITV4 from 7pm

ROBERT THORNTON 13-10 JAMES WADE

ROBERT THORNTON reached his first major PDC final at the coral.co.uk Players Championship with a 13-10 victory over James Wade.

The Scot continued his impressive charge up the Order of Merit by making a televised decider within a year of joining the PDC, bettering his semi-final appearance in the European Championship.

Thornton fell 8-6 down before stepping on the gas with some consistent high scoring to win seven of the next nine legs to record victory.

The Scotsman started the match well with a 15-darter before capitalising on three misses from Wade to break in the second.

World number two Wade stormed back to take the next three legs, including his first maximum of the game in the third leg in getting off the mark.

He followed that with a superb 151 checkout to level and hit a two-dart 60 finish to lead for the first time in the game at 3-2.

The reigning UK Open champion let four opportunities for a 4-2 lead slip and Thornton managed to land double five to break back and square the game.

The next two legs where shared before Wade broke his opponent’s throw with a clinical 111 checkout, and then converted a 110 finish to open a gap at 6-4.

Thornton won the 11th leg and had an opportunity to level at six-all, but his attempt at double top for a 114 finish was off-target and Wade landed double eight to keep his advantage.

Thornton, a semi-finalist in the European Championship last November, won the next leg in 13 darts, but Wade went into an 8-6 lead by converting an 84 finish on the bullseye.

Wade missed a dart at double 11 which would have given him a 9-6 lead and Thornton managed to land tops to keep in touch.

The man from Stevenston then converted checkouts of 74 and 150 – despite maximums from Wade in both legs – to move 9-8 up and lead the match for the first time since the second leg.

Thornton was now in full cry and landed two maximums in the process of taking the 18th leg in 11 darts, followed by a two-dart 65 finish to move two legs away from victory.

Wade hit double ten to win his first leg in six to reduce the deficit to 11-9, but Thornton won the next in 13 darts to break throw and move a leg away from the final.

Wade broke the Scotsman’s throw with a 14-darter, but Thornton hit his sixth 180 of the game in the next leg and followed that with a two-dart 60 finish to defeat the UK Open champion.

“I missed a few doubles early on and the first half of the match was scrappy but the second half went in my favour,” said Thornton.

“James is one of the best players in the world but he didn’t have a good second half.

“When I went two legs down and knew I had to pull it back. I’m like a back habit, I keep coming back and I hit him at the right time.”

PHIL TAYLOR 13-2 RONNIE BAXTER

PHIL TAYLOR stormed into the final of the coral.co.uk Players Championship with a 13-2 rout of Ronnie Baxter.

The world number one kept his hopes alive of achieving a sixth straight televised victory, dating back to last summer’s Las Vegas Desert Classic with another relentless display.

Taylor held throw at the start of the game and then won the second leg against the darts, hitting a 180 and a 61 checkout for a 14-darter.

Taylor went 3-0 up in 15 darts before Baxter got off the mark by landing double five.

The Stoke ace, who whitewashed Colin Lloyd in the quarter-finals, won the fifth leg before extending his to lead to 5-1 with a fantastic 11-dart finish.

That was followed by a superb 128 checkout to move further clear, although Baxter managed to land double eight to reduce the deficit to 6-2.

A two-dart 70 finish gave Taylor a 7-2 lead before a 131 checkout in the eighth leg took him further away from the Lancastrian.

Taylor won the next two with Baxter on a double, and did not let up by landing a second successive 14-darter after the pair traded 177s.

Baxter was soon put out of his misery as Taylor hit a 12-dart finish to go 12-2 up and then converted his fifth 14-darter of the game to win the match and set up a final against Robert Thornton.

“Ronnie didn’t produce what he can and I took advantage of him when I could,” said Taylor. “He’s a fantastic player and deserved to be in the semis but I got on top of him.

“I’m over the moon to be in the final. It’s going to be a cracker because Robert’s played really well this weekend.”

Baxter admitted: “I didn’t start well and got a routing.

“I couldn’t find the treble 20 and Phil was always in there. I found it hard on stage today and it didn’t seem right today.”

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