GARY Anderson questioned if his protégé Michael Smith felt under pressure when defeating the St Helens thrower 18-16 in a tie-break in Saturday night's Betfred World Matchplay semi-finals.

The 49-year-old Scot, winner of the 2018 tournament, took a relaxed approach that he felt finally paid off for him after Smith had twice fought back from five legs behind to look the likely winner in the closing stages.

Smith's second five-leg burst turned the game around as he drew level at 14-all, before punishing four missed doubles from the 2018 champion to move ahead for the first time at 15-14.

St Helens Star:

Pictures by Lawrence Lustig

Anderson took out a pressure 116 to level after the Clock Face man missed the bull to move two legs clear, and the Scot then punished another miss as he regained the edge at 16-15.

Smith landed two 180s and finished 81 to level, but Anderson took out 44 and double 18 in the next two to seal his place in the final.

After Smith's dogged display to overcome Polish number one Krzysztof Ratajski with a 16-13 win in the quarter-finals on Thursday night, he had said: “I want this so bad, maybe too much sometimes but I know once I get that first one like MVG did then the wins will start to flow.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself but on Thursday I proved I can handle it against a really classy player.”

But Anderson, who mentored Smith when they were teammates under the management of Dunvegan Darts, was a picture of calmness.

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"His scoring wasn't quite up there and he was struggling a bit," said Anderson, 49, who is still trying to find his feet after taking a break last year and then being stopped by the coronavirus pandemic.

"I don't know if he was under pressure but I was like if I get through I get through, if I don't then I don't and the bonus is I get home tomorrow.

"Michael will be gutted. I let him back in big time and there was a stage where I was looking over and done with."

Anderson went on to face Dimitri Van den Bergh in the final, after the Belgian became the first debutant to reach the decider since James Wade in 2006 by securing a narrow 17-15 defeat of Glen Durrant.

Smith, who lost to Rob Cross in last year's Matchplay final, still awaits his first win in a premier tournament. The determination shown in his performances in the Matchplay and throughout 2019 suggest one will come soon.