Qualifiers make seeds sweat at World Matchplay in Blackpool

Peter Wright
Peter Wright
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The big names didn’t have it all their own way on the opening weekend of the BetVictor World Matchplay at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens as four qualifiers beat seeded players in the 12 first-round matches so far played.

The biggest shock looked to be on the cards in last night’s final match, when Australian newcomer KyleAnderson pulled level with James Wade at 7-7 only for the 2007 champion to seal victory bytaking the next three legs.

Mensur Sulijovic did defeat the seeded Terry Jenkins 11-9 last night. The Austrian had mistakenly celebrated the win on taking his 10th frame, not realising a two-leg margin was required for victory.

Yesterday’s action was divided into two sessions, and Ian White defeated Stephen Bunting in a high-scoring thriller in the afternoon, when Gerwyn Price, Jamie Lewis and Andrew Gilding also won.

White emerged victorious with a 10-6 win over Bunting in a game which saw 17 maximum 180s hit and both players average over 100, although it was three ton-plus finishes for the number nine seed which proved crucial in the final outcome.

White ended the game with an average of 103.51 and landed eight 180s, and admitted: “It ranks among by best performances on TV and it shows that my game’s there, but I’ve got to be consistent and that’s my aim now.”

Welsh debutant Price caused an upset with a big 10-4 win over former World Youth Champion Michael Smith, who never recovered from falling 5-0 down to the former rugby ace.

Another Welshman Jamie Lewis defeated Justin Pipe 10-7 to bounce back from his first round exit in Blackpool two years ago.

Pipe started well with a 13-darter and a 71 finish, but Lewis hit back superbly to take the next five legs without reply to take a 5-2 lead and he was always at least two legs in front from that point.

Suffolk’s Gilding had suffered a whitewash defeat to Adrian Lewis 12 months ago, but overcame Mervyn King 10-8 in a thriller to open the day’s action.

King led 2-0 before Gilding finally claimed his first leg on the Winter Gardens stage - but another six followed as he established a 7-2 advantage and defied King’s fightback for a 10-8 win.

His opponent tomorrow will be Peter Wright, who lit up the Winter Gardens on the opening night with a 108 average as he defeated Kim Huybrechts .

Wright condemned Belgium’s Huybrechts to a fifth successive first round defeat here with a 10-5 victory in his bid to claim his maiden major title. The Scot took the game’s first six legs without reply and, after Huybrechts won the next three, took out an 11-darter to move 7-3 up.

The Belgian reduced the gap to 8-5, but Wright was clinical in sealing victory with checkouts of 136 and 161. “I wasn’t as consistent throughout the match as I wanted to be but there were patches of brilliance,” said Wright, whose tournament odds with sponsors BetVictor were slashed from 33/1 to 18/1 following the win.

World number one Michael van Gerwen swept aside debutant Benito van de Pas 10-4, winning seven straight legs - including a 116 checkout - to take a commanding 9-1 cushion. Van de Pas showed his class by taking the next three before the Dutchman sealed victory.

2013 runner-up Adrian Lewis began his challenge with a 10-7 win over gutsy debutant Joe Murnan.

The Bolton ace led 2-1 early on before Lewis took the next six legs to establish a 7-2 cushion. Murnan won the next four to reduce the gap to 7-6 as the number four seed wobbled, but Lewis regained his composure to take three of the next four.

Two-time Blackpool semi-finalist Simon Whitlock was the night’s other winner as he returned to top form with a 10-4 win over Jelle Klaasen.

The final four first-round matches will be played tonight, when Phil Taylor starts the defence of his title against John Henderson.