Jonny Clayton ended Josh Rock’s dream debut run at the World Darts Championship, while world No 1 Gerwyn Price breezed past Jose de Sousa as the Welsh duo reached the quarter-finals.
Antrim ace Rock has been one of the most talked about players on planet darts in 2022, but Clayton used all his years of experience to come through in another nail-biter at Alexandra Palace.
“I am delighted. Josh is an up-and-coming star. He is fantastic. What a nice guy and what a player. I had to do a job and I did it. That’s all I can say. Hopefully I can get to the end,” said Clayton.
“I have proved I can still play darts. We are all chasing this big trophy and fingers crossed it will be my year.”
Thursday, December 29 – Evening Results
|Luke Humphries||4-3||Vincent van der Voort (R3)|
|Gerwyn Price||4-1||Jose de Sousa (R4)|
|Jonny Clayton||4-3||Josh Rock (R4)|
Rock got off to a blistering start, winning the opener in three unanswered legs with a superb 110 average, to stun ‘The Ferret’.
The 21-year-old was showing no signs of nerves, but after surviving a barrage from Rock, Clayton clinched the second set in straight legs and he moved 2-1 ahead after landing an unorthodox single 18, double 18, bullseye 104 finish.
However, when the Welsh ace went inside on double 11 in the deciding leg of the fourth set, Rock returned for double 5 to get back on level terms.
And ‘Rocky’ appeared to be closing in on claiming another huge scalp by cleaning up 72 in a fifth-set decider moments after Clayton’s double attempt had hit the wrong bed.
But the world No 7 and former Premier League champion was not giving up without a fight and he made sure the contest went the distance by nailing a 122 on double 7 en route to taking the sixth set 3-1.
In another crazy game in the capital, Rock’s trouble with doubles came to haunt him when Clayton broke with a 13-darter and then sinking double 16 to make it through to the last eight for the first time.
Price, who has revealed plans to make a return to rugby on a spare weekend with no darts, clinched the first set 3-1 against De Sousa before rallying from 2-0 down and surviving two set darts in the next to strengthen his grip on the match.
But ‘The Special One’ responded strongly in the third set to halve the deficit with a 98.2 set average, but back came ‘The Iceman’ to nail tops for the first time in the match for a 64 finish to restore his two-set cushion and edge closer to victory.
And the Welshman made it through to the quarter-finals by winning a deciding leg against the darts with a neat ton-out before letting off a trademark roar of approval.
“I felt comfortable all the way through the game,” said Price, who is looking to add to his title in 2021. “I knew I wasn’t playing at my best but when chances come along I think I take them. As long as my friends and family are here supporting me, that’s the main thing.”
Fifth seed Luke Humphries was forced to fend off rapid-fire Dutchman Vincent van der Voort to seal a 4-3 triumph with a 96.5 average, eight 180s and a fabulous 140 checkout in the deciding set.
He will face either German No 1 Gabriel Clemens or Dundee firefighter Alan Soutar for a place in the last four.
Next up for ‘Cool Hand’ Luke is a tasty fourth-round meeting with Stephen Bunting on Friday evening.
“I feel like my doubles have let me down in this tournament, but it’s one of those things like if I play my game I want to get over that hurdle of making it through to the semi-finals,” said Humphries, who revealed he is still recovering from a sickness bug.
“Bunting is a fantastic player but I will be making sure that I will finally bring my A-game to this tournament. The top players find a way and although I haven’t been at my 100 per cent best it’s not affecting me to the point where I’m playing terribly.”
Thursday, December 29 – Afternoon Results
|Dirk van Duijvenbode||4-3||Ross Smith (R3)|
|Rob Cross||4-1||Mervyn King (R3)|
|Dave Chisnall||2-4||Stephen Bunting (R3)|
DVD comes out on top in deciding-leg classic
Dirk van Duijvenbode edged out Ross Smith in a deciding-leg classic, in a contest which featured a record-breaking 31 maximums and five missed match darts from Smith.
Van Duijvenbode came back from 3-0 down to deny Smith at the same stage of last year’s tournament, and he inflicted further heartbreak on the European Champion, who succumbed despite landing a record-equalling 19 180s.
The Dutchman forced a deciding set after Smith wired a match dart at the bull for a 4-2 win, and after surviving four more match darts in a gripping seventh set, Van Duijvenbode sank a nerveless 71 combination on tops to triumph.
“I just thought: ‘Give me one dart and I’ll take it,” said Van Duijvenbode, who hit a dozen 180s and converted 114, 127 and 136 finishes to set up a fascinating last-16 tie against Michael van Gerwen.
“It will be a fantastic game for the neutral, but I’m not happy with the way I’m playing.
“My best game is in there, but I’m not showing in and I definitely need to show it against Michael or I’m out tomorrow.”
Elsewhere, Bunting produced one of the best performances of his career to defeat his fellow St Helens star Dave Chisnall in an exhilarating six-set affair, which saw both players register ton-plus averages.
“That’s the best I’ve ever played on that stage,” insisted Bunting – a semi-finalist back in 2021.
Meanwhile, 2018 World Champion Rob Cross cruised into the last 16 with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Mervyn King to book a meeting with Gary Anderson’s conqueror Chris Dobey.
“He has got something about him, this solid determination and he has ability, we know that. He is going to take some beating”
Wayne Mardle on Rob Cross
Friday at Ally Pally
Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri Van den Bergh clash in the opening fourth-round tie before Gabriel Clemens takes on Alan Soutar.
Michael Smith and Joe Cullen close out a bumper afternoon session in what should be a contest full of thrills and spills.
Friday, December 30 – Fixtures (1230 GMT)
|Kim Huybrechts||vs||Dimitri Van den Bergh (R4)|
|Gabriel Clemens||vs||Alan Soutar (R4)|
|Michael Smith||vs||Joe Cullen (R4)|
Friday, December 30 – Fixtures (1900 GMT)
|Rob Cross||vs||Chris Dobey (R4)|
|Michael van Gerwen||vs||Dirk van Duijvenbode (R4)|
|Luke Humphries||vs||Stephen Bunting (R4)|
Firm favourite Michael van Gerwen headlines the evening session with the Dutchman continuing his bid to land a fourth world title and first since 2019 when he faces fellow Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode.
There’s a break on New Year’s Eve but then the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final take place from January 1-3.
Watch the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship – live on Sky Sports Darts – all the way through to the final on January 3.