VAN GERWEN & THORNTON SET UP QUARTER-FINAL AS BUNTING SEALS ROYAL APPROVAL
DEFENDING champion Michael van Gerwen came through a tricky test against Terry Jenkins with a 4-1 win to set-up a quarter-final clash with Robert Thornton at the William Hill World Darts Championship, where Stephen Bunting knocked out sixth seed James Wade in front of Prince Harry on Monday.
The tournament's second visit from Prince Harry, who was a guest at the 2011 semi-finals, saw the fourth in line to the throne take in the final game from round two at Alexandra Palace and the opening two matches of the last 16.
The night was headlined by reigning champion van Gerwen, who averaged just under 100, hit three 180s and an impressive 56 percent on his doubles as he connected on 14 of his 25 efforts in what was an efficient if not spectacular way to move into the last eight.
Jenkins put up a decent fight as four of the five sets went the distance, but he was only able to win one of those deciding legs as van Gerwen found his extra gear at the right times to book a quarter-final tie against Thornton.
Van Gerwen quickly took the opening set without too many issues, sharing the opening two legs before following a 14-darter with a break of throw to move ahead.
Jenkins responded in the second as he came from a leg down to level the game in a deciding leg, having traded 12-darters with van Gerwen - as the Dutchman bettered his rival's 116 checkout with a 128 finish only to see the decider go to the Ledbury ace.
A high-quality third set also went all the way to a fifth leg, with Jenkins hitting finishes of 84 and 96 only to see van Gerwen follow up legs of 14 and 13 darts by finishing 76 in the decider.
Jenkins led with a 14-darter in set four and opened the second leg with two 180s to raise the prospect of a nine-dart finish - but after missing double 12 in the second round he was unable again to complete the 141 finish, although he returned to take out 76 for a 12-darter to move 2-0 up.
However, van Gerwen hit back with a 12-darter and then finished 72 to level the set, before opening the decider with a 177 score as he moved into a key 3-1 lead in sets.
Van Gerwen also landed a 177 as he opened set five with a 13-darter, with Jenkins taking out 122 and 96 to send the set into another decider, but the Dutchman finished with a flourish as a 65 finish for a 14-darter sealed his quarter-final place.
"I didn't play well in the beginning but overall I was consistent, I was professional and I didn't make many mistakes which is what I had to do," said van Gerwen. "Even though I was 2-0 down in the fourth set I had a good feeling that I could win that, it was in my mind that I could win that and win the game. I'm confident I can go all the way in this tournament. I know when I play well I can beat everyone, but you need to prepare your game against everyone; tonight I prepared to face Terry Jenkins and i did what i had to do to make it into the next round. It was a big test, it was not that close but there were a few 3-2 sets so it could have been closer and it's good to have a good game at this stage of the tournament."
Scottish star Thornton is next up for van Gerwen after he ended the dream run of another Dutchman, youngster Benito van de Pas, with a 4-0 victory in their third round match.
After knocking out Paul Nicholson and Dave Chisnall, van de Pas's challenge ran out of steam, with Thornton averaging 96.5 and hitting four 180s and 15 scores of 140-plus.
Thornton also had a 156 finish to his name in the opening set, while van de Pas struggled to keep pace with just an 89 average as his opponent booked his place in the quarter-finals for the first time at Alexandra Palace.
"Michael and I have had a few battles and I don't see this one being any different," said Thornton. "I'll need to tidy up my scoring a bit, it was a bit ragged up there at times, but I'm just glad that Benito didn't really turn up. It didnt feel like a 96 average up there, but I thought my finishing was pretty good."
Reigning Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting ended the second round matches with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over sixth seed James Wade in the evening session's opening game.
In a tie which had been eagerly-awaited since the draw was made at the start of December, Bunting's bid to claim a debut win at Alexandra Palace continued as he ended the hopes of a below-par Wade.
Bunting powered out of the blocks, breaking throw in the opening leg and doubling his lead before claiming the set in style by finishing 161 for a 12-darter.
Wade found his stride in the second as he levelled the game by taking the set 3-1, only to see Bunting come from 2-1 down in the third to take a deciding leg, hitting his third 180 of the set as he edged back ahead.
Back-to-back 14-darters moved Wade 2-0 up in set four, but Bunting levelled before taking the set - and a 3-1 lead in the match - with a superb 144 checkout.
Wade also led in set five, but Bunting took the next three legs - with a 118 finish breaking throw - as he completed a fine win to move into the last 16 in his first William Hill World Darts Championship challenge, where he meets St Helens rival Michael Smith.
"It was a very nervous performance to be honest," said Bunting. "I know James Wade is a fantastic player but I had a lot of fans here tonight and they helped me get through it. The big finishes decided the game in the end. I managed to take them out at the right times and I think that was probably the main difference between me and James today, as he seemed to struggle a bit hitting his doubles. Obviously I'm not very happy with a 93 average but I managed to get through it. For some reason it just wasn't able to click up there but I can promise you I'll be back and ready for the next round. Michael's a fantastic player and a good friend, and it will be a great game - hopefully the whole town will be watching us."