ST HELENS darter Stephen Bunting has been knocked out of the World Darts Championships after losing a second round tie breaker against Ross Smith at Alexandra Palace.

The 16th seed Bunting had fought back from a poor start, punishing Smith for a series of missed doubles, and led 2-1 in the best to three contest.

But the Windle-based thrower, who reached the semi final last year, allowed Smith to get his game together and paid the price.

Smith showed some ruthless finishing, taking out a 167 finish in the deciding set to pile the pressure on Bunting in what would prove to be the last leg.

Posting on his Facebook page, Bunting said: "So gutted with my performance today.

"Will I let it spoil my Xmas? No way. I have a brilliant family behind me as well as some amazing sponsors. This makes me want everything even more. I’m so much better than that showing and everyone knows that.

"Thanks to everyone who has supported me it really does mean the world. We don’t lose, we learn.

"Well done to Ross Smith, he played a good game and deserved the win. I really hope he goes well into the tournament now. My plan is to now have a great Xmas with my family and then a quick bounce back into the masters. Thank you everyone. Have a safe and great Xmas and new year. Love to you all."

Defeat means an early finish for Bunting, with St Helens' hopes now resting on Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall who throw on Tuesday, December 21.