Joe Cullen, Jonny Clayton and Rob Cross all came through unscathed on the final night of the World Darts Championship before the three-day Christmas break.
Cullen came close to landing an unorthodox nine-darter after going seven perfect darts, but after missing treble 16, he still did enough to wrap up an entertaining 3-1 win in 11 darts against Ricky Evans.
Five-time TV title winner Clayton eased past Dutch debutant Danny van Trijp, while former world champion Cross came through a thrilling contest against Scott Williams in the afternoon session.
Friday, December 23 – Evening Results
|Martin Schindler||3-1||Martin Lukeman (R2)|
|Danny Noppert||3-1||David Cameron (R2)|
|Jonny Clayton||3-0||Danny Van Trijp (R2)|
|Joe Cullen||3-1||Ricky Evans (R2)|
In an electrifying opening, ‘The Rockstar’ took the opening set 3-1 aided by a superb 109 finish in the third leg.
Cullen, who claimed the Masters title and then finished as runner-up in the Premier League, landed a crucial 104 checkout on double 14 in the deciding leg of the second set to double his advantage.
‘Rapid Ricky’ reduced the deficit by winning a deciding leg to get a foothold back in the tie, but the Yorkshireman completed a fabulous win by winning a thrilling fourth set.
“I’m the first to say I prefer to play the faster player, but if Ricky’s first dart goes you know the rest are going with it. If it went to five sets I’d have still fancied myself but I’d have felt vulnerable I’ll be honest,” said Cullen.
“Christmas Day would have tasted horrible if I’d have lost here.”
Clayton comfortably took the opening set 3-1 against 25-year-old Van Trijp before upping his game with an average just over the 100 mark to win the next with two 11-darters and a sweet 78 out-shot on tops.
‘The Ferret’ soon whitewashed Van Trijp with a fabulous 99.62 average, five 180s and 50 per cent on the doubles.
The Welshman said: “It’s started off well so hopefully I can carry on. I know I can play darts but I just need to prove it on this stage. I’d love to pick this trophy up but all I can do is try and try.”
“He was talking confidently enough. When you do come back from Christmas it feels like a different event. He won so many events in 2021 it was always going to be difficult to replicate but he’s doing alright. He’s got the beating of Brendan Dolan if he plays his own game”
Wayne Mardle on Jonny Clayton
UK Open Champion Danny Noppert was in cruise control from the off with the Dutchman known as ‘The Freeze’ eventually showing his class to come through in four sets against 53-year-old veteran David Cameron.
Noppert looked assured on the stage with a 95.03 average, six 180s and 58 per cent on the doubles.
“There are a lot of good players in the draw but I’ve had a really positive year and I’m really happy with my performances,” said Noppert. “I believe in myself and I know what I can do.”
Germany’s Martin Schindler landed the tournament’s first 170 checkout and struck six 180s on his way to a first ever Ally Pally win over Martin Lukeman.
‘The Wall’ from Brandenburg, will take on two-time finalist Michael Smith, for a spot in the fourth round next Wednesday night despite losing his luggage en route to London.
“The 170 made it easier for me to win the second set and I knew that if I carried on playing well then I was going to win that match even though the situation was not so easy.”
Did you know…
A record 29 of the 32 seeds are through to the last 32 of the PDC World Championship (previous record was 27).
Friday, December 23 – Afternoon Results
|Brendan Dolan||3-1||Jimmy Hendriks (R2)|
|Chris Dobey||3-0||Martijn Kleermaker (R2)|
|Ross Smith||3-1||Darius Labanauskas (R2)|
|Rob Cross||3-1||Scott Williams (R2)|
Cross showing form of 2018 in seeing off showman Williams
‘Voltage’ Cross came through against Williams to book his place in the third round against Mervyn King, as Ross Smith also progressed on Friday afternoon.
The former champion fired a 99.32 average and posted seven maximums during a 3-1 victory against Williams, where all four sets needed a final-leg decider to produce a winner.
Cross squandered a set dart to win the opener, as Smith rattled off 14 and 13-dart legs then sealed the first set with a 60 checkout, although he came through a nervy second to level the contest with a 14-dart leg.
Every leg in the third went against the throw as Cross edged ahead in the contest, with ‘Voltage’ recovering from being broken by Williams in the fourth to post 15 and 14-darters to complete an impressive victory.
“This is my best chance since I won it and I’d say this is the most free I felt,” admitted Cross. “There’s always room for improvement but I’d have been here for six years and I’ve had my own problems to a certain degree. I’ve learnt about the game.”
European Champion Ross Smith threw 10 180s and the only 100-plus average of the day, with the world No 19 recovering from missing a match dart in the third set to register an impressive 3-1 win over Darius Labanauskas.
Brendan Dolan also made it through to the third round following a 3-1 win against Jimmy Hendriks, while Chris Dobey produced a ‘Hollywood’ performance to defeat Martijn Kleermaker in straight sets.
Next Tuesday at Ally Pally
Two-time world championship semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall takes on 21-year-old sensation Josh Rock in the first afternoon session following a three-day Christmas break, before the meeting of world No 1 Gerwyn Price and Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld in the evening.
Tuesday, December 27 – Fixtures (1230 GMT)
|Dimitri Van den Bergh||vs||Krzysztof Ratajski (R3)|
|Nathan Aspinall||vs||Josh Rock (R3)|
|Jonny Clayton||vs||Brendan Dolan (R3)|
Tuesday, December 27 – Fixtures (1900 GMT)
|Jim Williams||vs||Gabriel Clemens (R3)|
|Gerwyn Price||vs||Raymond van Barneveld (R3)|
|Peter Wright||vs||Kim Huybrechts (R3)|
The third and fourth rounds will be held from December 27-30, before 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.