RYDER ENJOYS PIPE DREAM AT WILLIAM HILL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
AUSTRALIAN-BASED Laurence Ryder produced a huge upset at Alexandra Palace by dumping out 17th seed Justin Pipe 3-2 with a flying finish to his
first round match at the WIlliam Hill World Darts Championship, as Robert Thornton and Ronnie Baxter set up a tasty second round tie at
British-born Ryder, who swapped Derby for Perth in Western Australia 13 years ago, came from 2-1 down thanks to a flying finish that saw him
win six straight legs to stun Pipe and set up a second round encounter against Terry Jenkins or John Weber.
Pipe missed ten doubles from 11 attempts in a scrappy first set, which Ryder took without reply with a fine 101 finish on double top in the
third leg. Taunton thrower Pipe levelled the match by coming from behind to win the second set with three successive legs, landing a 177 and three
doubles from six attempts as he regained his range. Pipe moved up a gear in the third set when taking all three legs as Ryder's level dipped, finishing 58 for the first leg, a fine 116 on
double 18 for the second and a two-dart 54 on double 18 to move 2-1 up in the game. Ryder - the 2014 DPA Australian Grand Prix champion - was unworried though, and
started his magical run with tops for a break of throw at
the start of the fourth set, before taking out 46 and 32 to level the match.
The fifth set went a similar way, starting with Ryder taking out 60 in two darts, then finishing off 76 after both men had hit 180s to
lead 2-0. Ryder then missed tops for the match, but with Pipe unable to check out, the Perth ace hit the target at the third attempt to
seal a dream win.
"I didn't really have many nerves, I felt good and was playing well and in the last set it all kind of clicked together," said Ryder, who
was the Australian Grand Prix champion in his first full year on the DPA circuit. "I played too fast when I played in Sydney so playing Justin
probably helped me to slow things down a bit. Beating a seeded player like Justin really gives you a big boost so now I really think I can go on and beat anyone."
Ryder will now spend Christmas with family in Derby before returning for his second round game, and admitted: "It's been a whirlwind year for
me in my first year on the Australian tour. I always watched the darts over here and it's great now to be back after moving out to Australia.
Darts is really growing fast in Australia, it's getting big and there are some great darts players about so I think there'll be more players
coming over in the next few years." G
Robert Thornton sent out a warning shot to the rest of the field with an impressive 3-0 victory over Andrew Gilding, losing just two legs as
he set up a second round tie against Ronnie Baxter.
Former UK Open champion Thornton hit two 180s in the first set and used his last dart on all three finishes to take the lead, with Gilding
pinching just the one leg in reply. Double seven capped off another leg as Thornton took the second set's opener, and he hit another maximum
in the next as a 14-darter moved him two leg up, and though a 56 outshot kept Gilding in the set, a classy 76 on tops gave the Scot the set
and put him in total control. The third set was the most clinical of all, with Thornton hitting tops for a 13-darter, then pulling out a
superb 144 outshot and wrapping up the win with a 14-darter in the next to seal a 97.6 average and a thoroughly professional performance -
one of the best of the first round so far.
Baxter, meanwhile, survived a threatening challenge from qualifier Daryl Gurney to grab a 3-1 win and his first televised victory since the
2013 World Grand Prix.
Right from the start Baxter had to fight hard to see off a determined Gurney, who had played superbly to come from 3-0 down and win his
preliminary match against Hong Kong's Scott Mackenzie, who missed match darts to complete finishes of 120 and 142 before seeing the Northern
Irish ace hit back with four successive legs. The pair shared eight 180s in the game, while a 105 finish from Gurney saw him break the Baxter
throw in the opening set to lead 2-1. They traded 180s in the fourth leg as Baxter levelled with a 12-darter, before he held his nerve with a 52 finish to edge the set.
The second set was more routine, with another 180 helping Baxter into a 2-0 lead, and although Gurney pulled a leg back the Blackpool ace finished off a
106 checkout to double his lead.Gurney kicked off the third set with a 12-darter of his own, posting a 180 and an 81 finish.
Baxter levelled and then moved ahead, only to miss the bull for the match in leg four, as Gurney squared the set and then took out a 108
finish to claim the set.A two-dart kill of 97 put Gurney ahead in set four, but Baxter then took over, levelling on double five and the
going ahead with a 54 finish for a 2-1 lead before and sealing the match with a superb 12-darter including a 180 and a 104 finish.
"Daryl played really well so it was all on me to play well, so I was happy to get through," said Baxter. "I feel great, you just take each
game as it comes but Robert will be a tough one in the next round. I managed to lose my darts this week. I was in a taxi on Thursday and
they must have slipped out of my pocket, but luckily I've got a spare set and used them. I've used my usual ones the last two years and
gone out in the first round!"
Ronny Huybrechts booked a second round tie against Peter Wright with a comfortable 3-0 win over Andy Smith.
The Belgian star won all but two legs as missed doubles cost Smith dear, while he was also stung by a wasp in the final set in what was a game to forget at Alexandra Palace.
Smith missed four darts at doubles in the opening set, and two more at the start of the second as Huybrechts won the first six legs on the spin to take charge of the match.
A 15-darter to break in the first set did the damage, while a 17-darter and 48 checkout set Huybrechts up in the second, despite missing eight shots at doubles himself.
Smith almost found a way back as he left himself on tops in the sixth leg of the match, but Huybrechts produced a dagger to the heart with a 101 finish to move two
sets up. Smith finally got on the board by winning the seventh leg with a 75 outshot on tops, and he followed up with four straight scores
of 100 and a 41 checkout, but then missed two set darts as Huybrechts hit back.Smith missed three more set darts in the next leg, which
Huybrechts won with a 44 finish, before he was able to see off 87 in six darts to finish the job and set-up a showdown with fifth seed Wright.
"I'm not really happy with my level of play but I'm in the next round so I'm happy," said Huybrechts. "Andy missed a few doubles out there
and didn't play at his best so I feel sorry for him a bit. I hope I play a little bit better in the next round than in this game - I'll
need to against Peter but I'm looking forward to playing him. I'll go back now and practice, maybe a bit with Kim, but we'll see. It'll
be busy at home for Christmas, I've got a lot of people to feed so it's always busy when I'm doing the dinner for Christmas!"