Michael Smith reaches World Matchplay semi-final

Michael Smith
Michael Smith

Red-hot Saints' fan Michael Smith will be hoping to complete a unique sporting double tomorrow (Saturday).

Smith will be bidding for a place in the final of the £700,000 Betfred World Darts Matchplay at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, and by then will know the outcome of the Super League giants Coral Challenge Cup semi-final showdown with rank outsiders Halifax at Bolton.

On paper, St Helens' task looks a little easier than the one facing 'Bully Boy' who goes toe-to-toe with in-form Glen Durrant - a comfortable 16-7 winner over James Wade last night (Thursday).

Earlier, Smith became the first player to reach the semi-finals, thanks to a 16-11 victory over Mervyn King.

World Championship runner-up Smith, who had failed to make it past the last 16 stage in his previous six Blackpool appearances, got off to a perfect start, winning the opening two legs in 23 darts on his way to a 5-1 lead.

King rallied, winning the next three legs in 18 darts each to reduce the deficit to one leg, only for Smith to hold and then break back immediately to restore his three-leg cushion.

Again, King came back, this time winning four legs in succession to take the lead for the first time at 8-7, only for Smith to produce another two high-class legs of 11 and 12 darts to go back in front.

The next seven legs all went with throw, including a bizarre leg which saw 22 missed darts at double, before Smith struck a pivotal 11-dart break to go 14-11 in front.

That turned out to be the crucial point in the match, as Smith dashed to the finish line without losing another leg, sealing a big victory in his career.

St Helens could have two players one step from the final if Stephen Bunting can overcome former world champion Rob Cross in one of tonight's. last eight clashes.

The other quarter final tie involves Peter Wright and Daryl Gurney.