Coverage of the World Cup of Darts continues across the weekend with two more sessions on Saturday followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on a bumper Sunday of action
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 07/11/20 12:28am
Top seeds England progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup of Darts with a battling victory over Philippines, as fourth seeds Northern Ireland crashed out on a dramatic opening afternoon in Salzburg.
The 32-nation tournament began with a bang, as Michael Smith and Rob Cross survived a scare to edge out the dangerous Filipino pairing of Lourence Ilagan and Noel Malicdem.
Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan were the major first-round casualties on Friday afternoon as Northern Ireland suffered another early exit at the hands of Canada, while Belgian duo Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts prevailed in a thriller against Czech Republic.
Hosts Austria progressed to Saturday’s second round alongside New Zealand and Spain, whilst Portugal recorded their first victory in World Cup history at the Salzburgarena.
Friday’s World Cup of Darts – First Round matches
|Afternoon||Evening from 6pm|
|Lithuania 5-3 Gibraltar||Sweden 0-5 Greece|
|Portugal 5-0 Hungary||Japan 3-5 Scotland|
|New Zealand 5-2 Denmark||Poland 5-0 South Africa|
|Northern Ireland (4) 2-5 Canada||Republic of Ireland (7) 2-5 Australia|
|Belgium (5) 5-4 Czech Republic||Wales (2) 5-0 Russia|
|Austria (8) 5-2 USA||Germany (6) 5-0 Finland|
|England (1) 5-3 Philippines||Netherlands (3) 5-1 Brazil|
|Italy 4-5 Spain||Hong Kong 4-5 Latvia|
England survive scare to progress
Smith and Cross kicked off England’s assault for a fifth World Cup of Darts crown by accounting for the enigmatic partnership of Ilagan and Malicdem for a second year in succession.
The Premier League duo weren’t at their vintage best, but still boasted a solid 90.32 average and a 50 per cent conversion rate on the outer ring to complete a 5-3 victory.
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‘Bully Boy’ made a confident start to proceedings as the top seeds forged an early cushion, although Malicdem – who missed match darts to defeat Peter Wright at last year’s World Championship, halved the deficit courtesy of a two-dart 84 outshot.
Malicdem also wired the bull for a spectacular 167 finish in leg six, yet Ilagan was the dominant force in the scoring department, producing a flurry of two-treble visits as a revitalised Philippines levelled at three apiece.
However, the pendulum swung in leg seven as Malicdem failed to take out 92 and Smith displayed no finishing line fever, posting a majestic visit of 174 before cleaning up on double 16 for a stylish 13-darter.
The four-time winners will take on Lithuania for a place in the quarter-finals, after Darius Labanauskas and Mindaugas Barauskas overcame Gibraltar’s young pairing of Craig Galliano and Justin Hewitt in the afternoon’s opener.
The 18-year-olds acquitted themselves impressively on debut, although former World Championship finalist Labanauskas delivered the goods for Lithuania, converting 95 and 96 finishes en route to victory.
Clinical Canada dump out Northern Ireland
Fourth seeds Northern Ireland were dumped out in the opening round for a second consecutive year, as Gurney and Dolan succumbed to the formidable Canadian partnership of Jeff Smith and Matt Campbell.
Smith, celebrating his 45th birthday in Salzburg, produced a captain’s performance to lead his side to victory – featuring a sensational 154 finish in leg three.
Canada started strongly and threatened an immediate break of throw, only for Northern Ireland to draw first blood courtesy of Dolan’s clinical 117 checkout.
However, last year’s quarter-finalists responded magnificently by reeling off three consecutive legs to establish a two-leg buffer.
The Canadians were averaging in excess of 100 for large periods and having produced a 72 checkout to move to the brink of victory, ‘The Silencer’ rounded off his birthday in style to seal Canada’s progression on double eight.
Their reward is a last-16 showdown against New Zealand duo Haupai Puha and Cody Harris, who kicked off their campaign with a resounding 5-2 victory over Denmark.
Puha starred for New Zealand – who also progressed to the last eight in 2019 – nailing all five doubles and conjuring up finishes of 112 and 100 in the process.
Saturday’s Second Round Matches – Order of Play
|Afternoon||Canada vs New Zealand|
|Austria (8) vs Portugal|
|Belgium (5) vs Latvia|
|England (1) vs Lithuania|
|Evening||Australia vs Poland|
|Wales (2) vs Scotland|
|Germany (6) vs Greece|
|Netherlands (3) vs Spain|
Buzzing Belgians edge a thriller
Former finalists Belgium survived a scare as they recovered from 3-1 down to defeat Czech Republic in a thrilling affair, to set up a meeting with either Latvia or Hong Kong for a place in the quarter-finals.
The fifth seeds are highly fancied to challenge for the title in Salzburg this weekend, although World Matchplay champion Van den Bergh and World Cup veteran Huybrechts were given a stern examination by Karel Sedlacek & Adam Gawlas.
Sedlacek made a blistering start; firing in three maximums in four legs to seize the initiative for the Czechs, who were bidding to register their first World Cup victory at the sixth attempt.
However, the Belgians responded with back-to-back 14-darters to restore parity at three apiece before profiting from three missed darts from Sedlacek in leg seven to seize the initiative.
The Czech duo responded to force a last-leg decider, although experience paid dividends for Belgium. Van den Bergh’s sublime 125 set-up shot left 36 after 12 darts and Huybrechts made no mistake, wrapping up the win inside 13 darts.
Hosts Austria set up Portugal showdown
Hosts Austria battled through to the second round with a hard-fought victory over USA, as Mensur Suljovic accounted for the Americans for a second straight year.
Rowby-John Rodriguez returned to partner ‘The Gentle’ for the first time since 2017, whilst Darin Young was a notable absentee from the American team, as Dan Lauby teamed up alongside Chuck Puleo.
Austria stormed into an early 2-0 lead with a 110 average, although they then became embroiled in a scrappy affair, eventually closing out a 5-2 triumph with an 82 average.
The eighth seeds will play Portugal, who marked their World Cup bow with a comprehensive 5-0 success against Hungary’s Patrik Kovacs and Janos Vegso.
Portugal were drafted in at late notice to replace Singapore, yet Jose De Sousa spearheaded the debutants to a comfortable victory – flanked by Jose Marques, who impressed on his first televised appearance.
Don’t miss a dart at this weekend’s World Cup of Darts – the action gets underway from 12pm on Friday on Sky Sports Arena and we will have all six sessions as the new champions are crowned.