ST Helens darter Michael Smith claimed victory in the first day of the Melbourne Darts Masters, writes Nathan Okell.

He achieved a convincing 6-2 win over Tim Pusey, in which the former World Youth Champion hit 60 percent of his attempts at doubles.

Smith, who was beaten 6-4 by Mark McGrath in the opening round in Auckland a week earlier, was keen to make amends and raced into a 3-0 lead.

After exchanging legs, Smith then took out 24 against the throw to claim the victory and seal his place in the quarter-finals tomorrow against reigning World Champion Rob Cross.

Smith said: “My preparation killed me last week but that’s no excuse.

"I’m not the sort to try and come up with reasons as to why I lost. He hit six doubles and I hit four, so he deserved to win last week.

“This time I felt a lot better and although it wasn’t my best performance I got the job done this time and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

In the other games, Australian Simon Whitlock defeated compatriot Corey Cadby’s hopes of a win on home soil, on a night that saw also saw Damon Heta upset Kyle Anderson to claim an unexpected win on his 31st birthday at the Hisense Arena.

In the all Australian clash it was the more experienced Whitlock who overcame his young rival to claim a 6-4 win, with the Wizard taking out 137 going 57, tops, tops to level at 2-2 and wrestle the initiative away from Cadby.

Whitlock will face the daunting task of world number one Michael van Gerwen next, who averaged 112.61 and hit six maximums to secure a 6-1 victory over Raymond Smith.

Anderson was the only PDC player representative not to make the last eight in Melbourne as his best friend and old school mate Damon Heta beat him 6-5.

The pair, who had played darts as juniors together as well as sharing time at school, played out a scrappy encounter with Heta surviving a match-dart to book a day-two tussle with Gary Anderson.

Gary Anderson set up the clash after the newly crowned World Matchplay Champion averaged 109 in his 6-2 win against James Bailey.

The two-time World Champion, who nearly broke van Gerwen’s record World Series average of 118.21, also hit 50 percent of his shots at doubles to round off an incredibly impressive performance.

Five-times World Champion Raymond van Barneveld overcame Ray O’Donnell 6-4 in the first game of the evening, starting slowly and even trailing 3-1 before winning five of the next six legs to secure the win.

Van Barneveld will face Peter Wright next after the 2017 UK Open Champion hit all six of his attempts at doubles in whitewashing Mike Bosner.

Finally, Rob Cross made short work of Haupai Puha to claim a 6-2 victory, averaging 92.17 in his opening game.

2018 Melbourne Darts Masters:

Friday August 10:

First Round:

Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 Ray O’Donnell

Michael Smith 6-2 Tim Pusey

Rob Cross 6-2 Haupia Puha

Gary Anderson 6-2 James Bailey

Peter Wright 6-0 Mike Bonser

Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Raymond Smith

Simon Whitlock 6-4 Corey Cadby

Kyle Anderson 5-6 Damon Heta

Saturday, August 11:

Second round, schedule of play, best of 19 legs:

Rob Cross v Michael Smith

Peter Wright v Raymond van Barneveld

Gary Anderson v Damon Heta

Michael van Gerwen v Simon Whitlock