Simon Whitlock produced another dazzling display Down Under to dump out Michael van Gerwen on the opening night of the PalmerBet New South Wales Darts Masters on Friday.
The opening night of the £60,000 tournament saw home favourite Whitlock steal the show, edging out Van Gerwen to become the solitary Oceanic representative to triumph in Wollongong.
Australia’s World Cup hero Whitlock, who defeated James Wade in Townsville last week, claimed another major scalp on home soil to celebrate a fifth consecutive victory over Van Gerwen.
The pair traded six consecutive breaks of throw in a remarkable passage of play, with Whitlock surviving a match dart in the penultimate leg, converting a two-dart 88 finish to level at five apiece.
The 53-year-old, roared on by a capacity crowd at the WIN Entertainment Centre, delivered the goods in the decider, completing a 74 finish on double eight to defeat last week’s Queensland Darts Masters champion.
“That was super good. To beat Michael five times in a row is sensational,” said Whitlock, who defied a 101 average from the Dutchman to book a meeting with Joe Cullen in the last eight.
“I was saying to myself: ‘You’re playing the best again now, so you have got to perform.’
“I had a little bit of luck, but I will take it. That was a hard-earned win, and it was all about belief.”
However, it was Michael Smith who produced the performance of the opening night to oust Australian number one Damon Heta in a thrilling last-leg shoot-out.
Smith fired in six 180s and averaged 106.33 to inflict a second consecutive 6-5 defeat on Whitlock’s World Cup partner Heta, who also succumbed to Gerwyn Price in a deciding-leg clash in Townsville.
Despite Smith outscoring Heta for large periods, the first ten legs went with throw, but the pressure finally paid dividends as Smith crashed in a 12-darter in the decider to seal his spot in the quarter-finals.
Price, a runner-up in Queensland, stormed through to Saturday’s final stages with a whitewash win over Koha Kokiri, rattling in three 180s and firing in a brace of 11-dart legs to triumph with a 104.86 average.
“I was really slow out of the blocks in the first two legs,” reflected the world number one.
“I need to get out of those blocks a little bit quicker, but I’m playing well and my mind is in a good place.”
The Welshman will take on Women’s World Matchplay champion Fallon Sherrock in the last eight, after the 27-year-old edged out World Series debutant Mal Cuming to secure her first victory in Australia.
Sherrock struggled in the early exchanges, but a brilliant 12-darter in leg five sparked a run of three straight legs, and she kept her cool in the decider to prevail with a 16-dart hold.
James Wade also secured his first victory in this year’s roadshow Down Under with an impressive comeback victory over Gordon Mathers, a semi-finalist in Queensland last weekend.
The ten-time TV title winner trailed 3-2 following a stuttering start, only to reel off four consecutive legs in 15, 15, 12 and 15 darts; sealing his progression with a clinical 116 combination.
Wade will now play top seed Dimitri Van den Bergh in the quarter-finals, after the Belgian began his bid for a third World Series title of 2022 with a 6-3 win over Australian qualifier Raymond O’Donnell.
Earlier in the night, Jonny Clayton eased past former World Cup quarter-finalist Haupai Puha to avenge his defeat against the New Zealander last week.
The reigning World Series of Darts Finals champion fired in back-to-back 13-darters midway through the tie, winning five straight legs to clinch an emphatic 6-1 success.
Elsewhere, Cullen defeated Dave Marland for the second straight week to confirm his place in Saturday’s latter stages in Wollongong.
Cullen, who averaged 108.65 to whitewash Marland seven days ago, defied a spirited fightback from the Australian veteran to complete a hard-fought 6-3 win.
The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will take place on a blockbuster session on Saturday, with live coverage on Fox Sports in Australia, as well as through the PDC’s global broadcast partners.
Live coverage through PDCTV is available for all subscribers worldwide outside of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (coverage exclusively via DAZN).
There is also a PDCTV Summer Pass option available for £10 which includes the remaining two World Series of Darts events during August, while ITV4’s broadcast in the UK begins from 1630 BST on Saturday.
2022 PalmerBet New South Wales Darts Masters
Friday August 19
Joe Cullen 6-3 Dave Marland
James Wade 6-3 Gordon Mathers
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Haupai Puha
Fallon Sherrock 6-5 Mal Cuming
Gerwyn Price 6-0 Koha Kokiri
Michael Smith 6-5 Damon Heta
Simon Whitlock 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-3 Raymond O’Donnell
Saturday August 20 (1900 local time, 1000 BST)
Schedule of Play
Dimitri Van den Bergh v James Wade
Gerwyn Price v Fallon Sherrock
Simon Whitlock v Joe Cullen
Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton
Best of 11 Legs
Best of 13 Legs
Best of 15 Legs