Smith avoids early exit after epic battle

Darts ace Michael Smith
Darts ace Michael Smith
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The look of relief which spread across the face of St Helens darts ace Michael Smith told its own story.

Smith had just come within a whisker of a shock early exit from the World Darts Championship at the Alexandra Palace last night (Monday), only squeezing home in a one-leg sudden death last set play-off against 19-year-old Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan.

It was an epic contest which TV commentator and former World Championship semi-finalist Wayne Mardle described as 'possibly the best match of the tournament so far.'

Smith, 25, looked to be in cruise control and heading for a second round showdown against Steve Beaton after the Christmas break when winning the first set 3-0 but the teenager hit back to set up a decisive final extended set

It was Smith, however, who kept his cool and followed fellow St Helens representative Stephen Bunting into the second round.

Incidentally, Bunting - a red-hot Liverpool FC fan - is due to be among the guests on Sky TV's Soccer AM on Boxing Day at 10am.

St Helens' third player in the championships, Dave Chisnall, is in action tonight (Tuesday) and will face the up and coming young Austrian Rowby John Rodriguez.