STEPHEN Bunting overcame the tricky hurdle of American darter Leonard Gates to reach Round Three of the Cazoo World Darts Championship.

It sets up an all-St Helens clash in the next stage of the Alexandra Palace showpiece Bunting landed seven 180s and two-ton plus checkouts on his way to a 3-1 win over the American.

Fan-favourite Gates - who overcame Geert Nentjes in round one - continued to shine on his Alexandra Palace debut, sealing the opening set with a 101 checkout.

Both players were blighted by bouts of missed doubles in the second set, though Bunting found a way to level the contest.

Former semi-finalist Bunting took the third set 3-1, before landing a 124 checkout on his way to wrapping up victory in the set four.

Afterwards Bunting said: “I have mixed emotions after that. I did not expect Leonard to play as well as he did, but what a fantastic player he is.

“He had me under pressure for a lot of the game but thankfully I was able to get the break and get over the line.

“I had my son and my mrs here today watching and I wanted to put in a good show on for them, my friends and spomsors.

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”Last year I lost to Ross Smith in the first round going into Christmas and had the worst Christmas I ever had. So at least I am still in for Christmas.”

Bunting reached the semi finals of this tournament in the 2020/21 campaign and is defending big money – which goes towards rankings – this time around.

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But he is confident in his form.

“I am playing better than ever. I don’t really care who I play – I just want to get up there and try and do my job and the consistency will flow. That is the main thing,” he said.

That starts with the next round against fellow St Helens arrows ace Chisnall.

Bunting said: “Chizzy is a really good friend of mine, but when we get on that oche we are the best of enemies and I wany to win that game.

“I will be putting a lot of work on between now and then to make sure I am ready for that challenge.

Chisnall caught the eye with a strong display in his 3-1 victory over Andrew Gilding.

One of the highest-quality affairs of the tournament so far saw both players land seven 180s, with missed doubles denying Chisnall a ton-plus average.

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After Gilding took the opening set, Chisnall replied with a 119 average in set two to level.

Chisnall won last-leg deciders in each of the final two sets to ensure his passage into round three.

"I knew Andrew was going to pay well so I had to be on my A-game," said Chisnall.

"It's pleasing to have played so well for most of the game. I feel really good, I couldn't wait to get on that stage and it showed in my performance."

Meanwhile, Michael van Gerwen and Josh Rock breezed through to the third round on Day Seven of the Cazoo World Darts Championship as Alexandra Palace action continued.

Three-time World Champion Van Gerwen laid down a marker with a 3-0 demolition of Lewy Williams, while Rock continued his debut run with a straight sets win over Callan Rydz.

Third seed Van Gerwen spent less than 20 minutes on the oche in his triumph over Welsh youngster Williams.

After dropping his only leg of the match in the first set, Van Gerwen went through the gears, averaging an incredible 125 in set two with legs of 13, 12 and 11 darts.

The three-time World Champion ended the match with a 101.84 average, his 34th ton-plus average on the Alexandra Palace stage, to lay down a marker for his rivals.

Veteran Mervyn King held off a comeback from Danny Baggish to earn a 3-2 victory in a thrilling contest.