TheOche.com

Darts News and Events

World Match Play: Dennis Priestly Still in Hunt for Winner’s Trophy

Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Defending champion James Wade and veteran Dennis Priestley battled through to the semi-finals of the Stan James World Matchplay on Thursday afternoon.

Wade had to hold his nerve to overcome a strong challenge from qualifier Matt Clark before taking a 16-12 victory to remain on course to retain the £60,000 title.

He landed eight 180s and crucially won four of the final five legs to book his place in Friday’s semi-finals.

“I did get frustrated,” admitted Wade. “I was missing doubles and Matt hit me with some shots that hurt me.

“I probably made it harder for myself than I needed to but I probably got affected by Matt’s slow pace. I’m a fast player and don’t have the best temperament when players do that against me.”

Priestley, meanwhile, continued his superb run of form in 2008 to reach his first World Matchplay semi-final since 1999 with a 16-14 defeat of Alan Tabern.

The 58-year-old, who had prostate cancer surgery in January, showed all his experience to see off in-form Tabern, who was in the quarter-finals of a third successive major tournament.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be in the semi-final,” said Priestley. “I had a period in the game where I was absolutely exhausted but I bucked myself up and got a second wind.”

Priestley will now meet either old rival Phil Taylor – who defeated him in the 1996 World Matchplay final – or youngster Kevin McDine in Friday’s semi-finals.

The other semi-final will see Wade take on either Raymond van Barneveld or Wayne Mardle, who meet on Thursday night.

Stan James World Matchplay
Quarter-Finals
Afternoon Session
Dennis Priestley 16-14 Alan Tabern
Matt Clark 12-16 James Wade
Evening Session
Raymond van Barneveld v Wayne Mardle
Phil Taylor v Kevin McDine
Best of 31 legs

DENNIS PRIESTLEY 16-14 ALAN TABERN
VETERAN star Dennis Priestley reached his first Stan James World Matchplay semi-final since 1999 with a 16-14 win over Alan Tabern at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

The 58-year-old, who had prostate cancer surgery in January before returning to the top level of darts, edged a tight contest to condemn Tabern to a quarter-final defeat for a third successive major tournament.

The two could barely be separated in a thriller, but Priestley defied fatigue to sneak into the last four.

A runner-up in the first three World Matchplay events from 1994-1996, Priestley’s last semi-final came with a 17-10 loss to Rod Harrington in 1999, but he now meets Phil Taylor or Kevin McDine in Friday’s last-four contest.

Tabern secured the game’s first break of throw in the fifth leg to lead 3-2, but Priestley then won five of the next six legs – including finishes of 100 and 111 – to take a 7-4 advantage.

Checkouts of 100 and 120 in successive legs from Tabern reduced the gap to one leg, and the St Helens man went on to level at eight-all after three missed doubles from Priestley.

Priestley included an 11-darter as the pair held throw for the next 11 legs, trading blows as the veteran Yorkshireman took a 14-13 lead.

And Priestley then landed a crucial double 16 to move two legs clear – and one away from the win.

Tabern replied on the same bed after Priestley missed one dart for the win, but the two-time World Champion held his nerve to take out 76 on double eight for the win.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be in the semi-final,” said Priestley. “My aim is always just to play as well as I can, and if I win it’s a bonus.

“When it was 8-8 I asked referee Bruce Spendley how many more legs I needed and nearly passed out when he said I needed eight more! I had a period where I was absolutely exhausted but I bucked myself up and got a second wind.

“I was playing really good darts and just couldn’t break Alan late in the game. He was snapping at my heels all the time.”

Priestley’s deliberate style has become a trademark during over 20 years at the top level, but he admits he has speeded up his game in the Blackpool summer heat.

“I don’t like playing slowly and taking methodical aim with each dart because it tires me out, so if I can get the first one working and the other two follow it in,” he added.

“Darts is easy if you can do that, and it’s me that makes it hard!

“But after this I’ll relax, I’m going home to Mexborough tonight and will get some rest there and return for the semi-finals.”

Tabern said: “I’m gutted but it was a really good game of darts and I enjoyed it. If I look back at the game, Dennis deserved to win.

“Early on he took out a double every time I had a chance of winning a leg, and full credit to him. It was close and he just edged me at the end.

“I’ll probably learn more from that than Dennis because he’s done everything in the game.”

Tabern had been a quarter-finalist in the UK Open and Las Vegas Desert Classic earlier this summer, before matching that feat in Blackpool.

“If someone had said to me that I’d be in the quarter-finals of the Stan James World Matchplay and it would come down to one dodgy leg as to whether I’d get into the semis, I’d have taken that.

“I’ll focus on preparing for the World Grand Prix now, and it would be nice to have a good run.

“I’m on a roll at the moment having made the quarter-finals of the last three TV tournaments, thousands of players all over the world would love to be in my position.”

JAMES WADE 16-12 MATT CLARK

JAMES WADE remains on course for a second successive Stan James World Matchplay victory following a 16-12 win over Matt Clark – but admitted that frustration almost cost him the win.

Wade was pushed all the way as Clark continued his most impressive run in a major PDC tournament to come close to knocking out the defending champion.

Clark had knocked out Roland Scholten and Peter Manley to reach the last eight, and was neck-and-neck with Wade for much of a compelling contest.

However, Wade crucially kept his cool to take three legs without reply at the end of the game to seal his place in the semi-finals.

Clark’s accuracy on double top helped him to share the early legs, although a 13-darter from Wade secured the first break of throw to give him a 4-3 lead.

Clark took out 105 to break back in the tenth leg, only for Wade’s heavy scoring, including 180s in three successive legs, to take a 9-7 cushion.

The Manchester-based qualifier produced the best two legs of the match to pull level, taking out 161 and 113 for back-to-back 12-darters in squaring the contest.

Wade replied with two of his own to move 11-9 up, with Clark taking three of the next five, including another 12-darter, to stay in the hunt at 13-12.

Wade showed his champion quality though, hitting a 14-darter to edge clear, breaking Clark’s throw with an eighth 180 of the game before sealing the win on double two.

“I did get frustrated,” admitted Wade. “I was missing doubles and Matt hit me with some shots that hurt me.

“I probably made it harder for myself than I needed to but I probably got affected by Matt’s slow pace. I’m a fast player and don’t have the best temperament when players do that against me.

“I’m still learning and this game’s out of the way now, and I can look forward to playing in the semi-finals now.”

Clark’s £12,000 check will be the biggest of his career, and he admitted he was proud of reaching his first semi-final in a major PDC event.

“It’s been a long time coming but I think I deserved it,” said Clark. “I should have been doing it sooner but I had a tough draw and managed to knock out two top ten players and run the world number three close.

“This takes me back to the edge of the top 32, which is a boost, and hopefully I can kick on from here.

“I had more than enough opportunities against James to win by the same scoreline but it wasn’t to be.”

Comments are off for this post  

Comments are closed.