So far so good for St Helens darters in the World Matchplay

Michael Smith

Dave Chisnall

First published in Sport
Last updated

IT is a case of so far so good for the first two of the three St Helens darters in the BetVictor World Matchplay at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

World Youth Champion Michael Smith beat Justin Pipe 10-8 in the first round and now faces the 14 time champion Phil Taylor in the second round on Wednesday.

And Dave Chisnall comfortably saw off Dean Winstanley 10-4 and will now tackle Andy Hamilton in round two on Tuesday.

Stephen Bunting plays Peter Wright in the opening night tonight (Monday.) Smith famously knocked Taylor out of the World Championship in December and also defeated the Stoke great in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy last month - but the 53-year-old smiled: "I can't wait, because he'll be getting the proper Phil Taylor this time.

"Michael knows he's got a tough game, but he's got every right to be confident because he's a cracking player.

"I want to have a scrap with him and it will be great. The fans will be in for a treat and I think there could be a nine-darter too."

Smith, a 23-year-old from St Helens, further enhanced his growing reputation with a gritty 10-8 win over Pipe in their first round encounter in Blackpool.

Although Smith led 2-1 early on - as he took out 83 on the bull - Pipe broke back to level before the pair traded the next 12 legs without a break to leave the scores locked at eight-all.

Smith, though, held his nerve to break on tops in the next as he moved 9-8 up, before hitting his seventh 180 of the contest as he secured the win.

"I'm so chuffed to get through," said Smith. "Two years ago when I previously played here, I was a naive young boy who expected the world to come knocking at my door, but I've put the hard work in now and I've come knocking on the world's door!

"It was a hard-fought game and there we no tactics, we just both wanted to win. When we went to eight-all, I wanted to push as hard as could to break Justin and he hit some bad scores and I managed to capitalise."

Smith added: "Phil's the best player in the world, but I'm here to win matches and win tournaments. I know I can beat Phil - but after the World Championship Phil beat me 6-1 and 6-0!

"He's not finished, but I've just got to go up there and play my own game. I'm not playing Phil Taylor, I'm playing another darts player; he's got three darts and I've got three darts, and that's all that matters."

Chisnall, meanwhile, impressed with a 10-4 win over Winstanley, taking out finishes of 132, 131 and 121 and averaging almost 99.

Winstanley hit back from 5-1 down to trail just 6-4 at one stage, but missed his chance to cut the gap to one in the 11th leg as Chisnall posed double two to regain the edge before taking the next three legs without reply for a fine win.

"It was a good win for me," said Chisnall.

"I've been knocked out of the last couple of European Tour events because of missed doubles but I've worked a lot on that in practice and it paid off.

"I'm getting fed up of losing games that I should be winning and I've always said that if I hit my doubles I can beat anybody because my scoring is quite high.

"I was focused today and when I hit the 131 checkout in the first leg I knew I was going to play well and hit my doubles."

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