World Matchplay Day 4 Review - Snakebite Stuns Polish Eagle
Reigning World Matchplay champion Peter Wright survived a real scare in his Last 16 match at the Winter Gardens, beating Krzysztof Ratajski 13-11 to reach the Quarter Finals. Michael van Gerwen is also through to the Last 8 after beating Joe Cullen 11-5, racing out the blocks with an average over 110 to lead 4-1 at the first break.
Nathan Aspinall knocked out his second seeded player, this time James Wade 11-9 with the Machine failing to register a single maximum on the oche, as the Asp goes through to meet MVG on Thursday. 2020 champion Dimitri van den Bergh beat Rowby-John Rodriguez 11-6 to set up a repeat of last year’s Final against the reigning World Champion, missing just seven darts at double throughout the match.
Snakebite averaged 103.50 over twenty-four legs of darts which is a sensational achievement already, but was certainly made to work by his Polish opponent. The Red Dragon man included a 127 checkout in the third leg on the bullseye before breaking in the following leg to guarantee a lead at the first break.
The Second-Round tie then saw back-to-back finishes of 125 firstly from the World Number 1, producing a champagne shot on bull, outer bull, and the bull again to lead 5-2 stunning the Blackpool crowd. The Polish Eagle followed up with his very own in the eighth leg, hitting tops after an outer bull and treble twenty set up shot.
Wright then showed just why he is the best player in the sport, finding an eleven-dart break of throw on double eighteen to lead 7-3 at the second break but from then on it wasn’t so plain sailing. The man ranked 16th in the world broke twice in reeling off four legs to get himself back into the tie, giving the Livingston born thrower a taste of his own medicine on the heated stage and levelling at 7-7.
The match entered sudden death when Ratajski found a checkout of 77 on double ten to level at 10-10, averaging 98.90 in the Last 16 affair and recording a checkout rate of 50%. The Scotsman though would have the last laugh, finishing 96 to lead 12-11 holding throw before breaking on 58 to seal a hard-fought win over the 45-year-old, who can certainly hold his head high after a brilliant game of arrows.
Michael van Gerwen raced out of the blocks in his match with Joe Cullen, a repeat of the Premier Final which the Dutchman won last month. MVG included an 85 checkout to break throw in the opening leg before an 82 out in the next for an early 2-0 lead in Blackpool.
The Winmau man blew his English opponent away breaking him in the fifth leg to lead 4-1 at the first break. The three-time World Champion continued causing problems, crucially breaking again in the eleventh leg on double ten to give himself breathing space in the match.
The final tie of the night included 10 maximums with the World Number 4 hitting seven of them on the oche. He continued to push on looking for his first Matchplay crown since 2016 and found a real surge, winning the last three legs including a crucial break in the fifteenth leg on double twelve, punishing more missed darts at double from the Rockstar.
Van Gerwen averaged 97.12 in the match and will meet Nathan Aspinall in the Quarter Finals after he overcame James Wade 11-9 earlier on in the session. The Stockport man came into his tie with the Machine full off confidence after beating Luke Humphries 10-5 on Sunday night.
After losing the opening two legs, three legs on the spin including checkouts of 74 in the third and 80 on tops contributed to a 3-2 lead at the break. The World Number 5 treated the crowd to three ton plus checkouts despite defeat, including his highest off 126 in the second leg on the bull to break throw.
His most crucial though came in the tenth leg, levelling the match at 5-5 on double nineteen to finish 118 and break the throw for the second time. The Aldershot man would go on to break again on double twelve in the twelfth leg and lead 7-5 really putting the former UK Open champion under the cosh.
Aspinall certainly thrived recovering to win six of the last eight legs including an 82 checkout to break and lead 9-8, before ending the match on 81 hitting double sixteen with his last dart in hand to seal an 11-9 victory reaching the Quarter Finals again in the Matchplay.
Dimitri van den Bergh missed just seven darts at double in reaching the Last 8, including six maximums and an average of 98.62 in his match with Rowby-John Rodriguez. The Dream Maker despite falling to a 2-0 deficit, broke twice to lead at the first break 3-2 and over the course never surrendered his winning position from then.
The 2020 champion produced a brilliant 146 checkout on double sixteen after hitting two treble nineteens to seal his eleventh and final leg, despite the Austrian showman trying to sway the crowd towards his side with his showboat shots. The Belgian will meet Peter Wright on Thursday in a repeat of last years Final in what should be a blockbuster tie in the World Matchplay.
Tomorrow will see the Quarter Final line-up confirmed, with Gerwyn Price returning to action as he prepares to play Dave Chisnall, whilst UK Open champion Danny Noppert faces Daryl Gurney in an all Winmau matchup in the Winter Gardens live on Sky Sports on Wednesday evening.
By Harry Masterson
Image courtesy of Taylor Lanning/PDC
2022 Betfred World Matchplay Results
Dimitri van den Bergh (9) 11-6 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Nathan Aspinall 11-9 James Wade (5)
Peter Wright (1) 13-11 Krzysztof Ratajski (16)
Michael van Gerwen (4) 11-5 Joe Cullen (13)
Wednesday Order of Play: Last 16
Daryl Gurney v Danny Noppert (11)
Jose de Sousa (7) v Rob Cross (10)
Gerwyn Price (2) v Dave Chisnall (15)
Michael Smith (3) v Dirk van Duijvenbode (14)