Stephen Bunting is runner up in the final of Players Championship

Stephen Bunting

Stephen Bunting

First published in Sport

TERRY JENKINS won his first ranking title for two years with a 6-3 win over Stephen Bunting in Players Championship Ten at the K2 Centre in Crawley, on a day which saw Johnny Haines hit a nine-dart finish.

Jenkins, 50, started a run to his third final of the year with wins over Joe Murnan and Jamie Robinson before averaging over 107 in his 6-2 last 32 win over three-time World Champion John Part - who averaged 102 in defeat.

Jenkins fought hard in his last 16 game as he came from 5-3 down to defeat Andrew Gilding 6-5 before producing a fabulous last eight performance with a 6-1 victory over Dean Winstanley, recording a 107 average for the second time in the day.

The Ledbury ace's fine day looked to be over after he fell 5-1 down to Andy Hamilton in their last four clash, only for him to produce a brilliant comeback and win the last five legs to secure a place in the final in dramatic fashion.

Jenkins, who reached his eighth major final at the Coral UK Open in March, led the final on three occasions in the early stages against Stephen Bunting, only for the 2014 Lakeside Champion to reply each time.

With matters finely balanced at three apiece, Bunting looked on course to win the seventh leg against the throw after leaving 64 after 12-darts, only for Jenkins to hit a fabulous 148 checkout to edge ahead for the fourth time.

Jenkins carried that form into the eighth leg as he broke his opponent's throw by hitting double four, before romping to victory in the next with a 13-dart finish to claim the £10,000 first prize.

Bunting, who has enjoyed some excellent performances since switching to the PDC at the start of the year, continued his rise up the PDC Order of Merit with a second appearance in a PDC ProTour final as he continued his challenge to qualify for July's BetVictor World Matchplay.

Bunting overcame a tough first round opponent in the shape of new PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion Keegan Brown, winning with a 6-4 margin before defeating Sussex's Adrian Gray with a 6-3 triumph.

The Lakeside Champion claimed the major scalp of world number one Michael van Gerwen in the last 32 following a deciding-leg win, before advancing to the last eight with a 6-4 win over Wales' Gerwyn Price.

Bunting then edged out Darren Webster in a deciding leg, recovering from a 4-2 deficit, before coming through another tight contest in the semi-finals against Justin Pipe.

That victory guaranteed the St Helence star £5,000 for reaching the final, but a second PDC ranking title proved elusive as Jenkins' 148 checkout proved the decisive moment of the final.

Stoke's Andy Hamilton - who ended a seven-year drought with victory in a UK Open Qualifier back in February - reached the last four on Sunday and looked on course to play in the final after leading Jenkins 5-1 in their semi-final encounter.

After developing that healthy advantage, the three-time major finalist collapsed in dramatic fashion as he lost the last five legs of the game to fall to an agonising 6-5 defeat.

Taunton's Justin Pipe produced another strong display on Sunday as he followed up his run the final 24 hours earlier at the K2 Centre by reaching the semis on Sunday.

The Taunton star fought hard with deciding leg triumphs over Mark Webster and Ronnie Baxter before losing a tight semi-final encounter to Bunting by a 6-4 margin.

Cumbria's Tony Newell recorded his best result on the PDC ProTour since securing a Tour Card in January as he won through to the quarter-finals, while Norwich's Darren Webster reached the same stage for the fourth time in 2014.

Blackpool's Ronnie Baxter reached his fourth quarter-final in the space of two months while Dean Winstanley, a finalist in a ProTour event in Barnsley back in March, reached the same stage before falling victim to a brilliant 107 average from Jenkins.

Swindon's Johnny Haines hit a brilliant nine-dart finish in the third leg of his 6-2 third round victory over Jelle Klaasen as he won through to the last 16, where his memorable day was ended by a 6-4 loss to Winstanley.

Kent's Steve Douglas enjoyed his best result to date in a ProTour event with a fine run to the last 16, which included an excellent win over two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis, while Welsh newcomer Price continued to show his promise with another excellent run to the same stage.

Saturday's winner, Peter Wright, suffered a first round exit and was a number of big names to crash out early, as major champions Raymond van Barneveld, Gary Anderson, Simon Whitlock and James Wade also experienced the same fate.

The next PDC ProTour weekend will be held from June 13-15 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, with the UK Qualifier for July's European Darts Open followed by Players Championships 11 & 12.

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