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Bunting one set away from World title
7:51pm Sunday 12th January 2014 in Sport
ST HELENS darter Stephen Bunting is one set of winning the World title and is currently 6-4 ahead against Alan Norris in the final of the World Darts Championship at Frimley Green.
The final is the first to seven - and Norris is not going quietly.
The Bullet lost the first set 3-1 despite having the darts, with Alan Norris starting well against the BDO ranked number one.
Bunting had the chance to take the opening leg of the second but missed one shot on double tops allowing Norris to nick it.
He scored well in the second leg and was under no pressure when he levelled at 1-1.
Norris missed double tops to allow Bunting to break throw for the first time in the match and was let off the hook for a missed double 16 to take the second set.
The volume of scoring increased in the third set, with the maximums becoming more frequent. The first two legs went with the darts, with Bunting ruling two missed doubles to lose the third leg and allow Norris to break throw.
But the Newtown based thrower lost no time in breaking back and then cashed in on Norris putting his decisive arrow in the neighbouring bed by taking the leg and third set with his next visit.
After losing the first leg of the fourth back to back 180s from Bunting allowed him to take it out in just 11 darts.
Norris missed three darts at double to allow Bunting to break throw and open up with the 10th maximum of the match but missed four chances to wrap up the set to allow Norris to pinch it.
It was a possible pivotal moment because Norris came back to level it with the next leg, meaning what should have been 3-1 was instead back level pegging.
The first two legs of the fifth set went with the darts and although Bunting was a fraction off bullseye that would have netted the highest checkout of 170, he still held throw in the third and took the fifth set with a bull, double 16 finish.
Bunting profited from some shaky arrows, albeit temporarily, from Norris to enjoy a purple patch to break throw in the opening leg.
But Norris broke straight back with an unplayable 11 darter and then held throw after a Bunting missed double.
Bunting levelled the set 2-2 but missed three darts to take the set and allow Norris to level at 3-3 instead of it being 4-2 lead for the Fazakerley-born marksman.
Bunting was well clear when he took out the double at first time of asking in the opening leg of the seventh set, but missed five darts at double 16 to hand the second to Norris, who then took the third against the throw in 11 darts.
Crucially The Bullet broke back with a 101 checkout to tie up the set at 2-2.
Bunting took advantage of a missed set dart from Norris to take the seventh set.
The man from St Helens was at his best and rattled through the eighth to take a 5-3 lead and then his was clinical in the ninth to move 6-3 up.
Norris was not giving up lightly and took the first two of the, for him, must win set - which he eventually clinched.