Tuesday, 20 July 2010

World Matchplay - Day Three

"What a difference a day made..." sang Dinah Washington back in 1959. 41 years later in Blackpool, and boy, was she on the money with that one.

If Sunday's matches were like the First World War - long, drawn out, difficult, neck and neck for most of the way with a winner coming through at the last minute - then yesterday's matches were more like the 6 Day War: fast, one sided and over before you could get back from the khazi.

First up was Terry Jenkins v. Blackpool debutant Steve Brown. Brown began his Blackpool career with a dream start: a 127 Bullseye check out to break Jenkins' throw. 9-4 down at one stage, Jenkins managed to reel Brown back to 9-6 before Brown sealed his victory; in doing so Jenkins became the only loser that evening to win more than half the number of legs that the winner did. It was Brown's impressive finishing that clinched it for him; the scoring stats for both men are almost identical (Jenkins: 21 ton +, 10 140 +, 3 180s, av. 88.57. Brown: 22, 10, 2, 87.45) but Brown made 3 ton-plus finishes to Jenkins' highest effort of 96.

Next to put toe to oche were the Wizard of Oz Simon Whitlock, also making his first appearance at Blackpool's Winter Garden, and Tony "The Viper" Eccles. Unfortunately the Viper had lost his venom, and made about as much impact on Whitlock's game as a Smart Car ramming a tank. Eccles took the eigth leg to avoid a complete whitewash but Whitlock just rolled straight over it like a speed bump, leaving Eccles' shattered wreckage in his wake. Great darts from Whitlock: 10-1 the final score.

Trousering. For those not familiar with the concept, trousering is a standard rule which states that anyone who gets whitewashed - in table footy, pool or any other bar sport - is obliged to lower their trousers to the ground and run the whole way through the bar as a punishment for their sporting ineptitude.

The PDC does not, as far as I am aware, enforce this rule on a regular basis and one man in particular has cause to be very grateful for that. No one knew exactly what would happen when Robert Thornton took on fellow Scot Gary Anderson, but I'll bet no-one was expecting what did happen. Anderson, possibly still smarting from his collapse against Taylor at the UK Open in June, came out like a goaded tiger suddenly released from a cage; with Anderson unusually clinical on his finishing (he'd been practicing after the UK Open final, where his finishing really let him down) Thornton was soon staring defeat in the face and eventually succumbed 10-0.

As is often the case the match stats paint a more balanced picture of the first whitewash at the Winter Garden in 6 years, but there's no denying that Anderson gave Thornton a thorough drubbing.

Last up was Mervyn King v. Jelle Klaasen. By the end of the 6th leg it was 4-2 to King; then Klaasen decided he'd had enough. 8 defeats on the trot later, a shell-shocked King was picking up his darts case and walking away from a 10-4 defeat. Hats off to Klaasen for a - no, I can't bring myself to do the 'classy' pun - stirling performance.

Last of the First Round matches tonight; I'm looking forward to Paul Nicholson v. Steve Beaton and, of course, Phil Taylor takes to the oche against Barrie Bates.

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