St Helens ace Tabern wins World Championship opener to set up tie against Van Gerwen

Alan Tabern in action at the World Darts Championships
Alan Tabern in action at the World Darts Championships
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The Saint goes marching on into the second round of the William Hill World Darts Championship - and now faces arguably the greatest player on the planet, Michael van Gerwen.

The 52-year-old St Helens left-hander's nerve-tingling 3-2 victory over Australian Raymond Smith earned him a showdown with the Dutchman who at 11/8 is red-hot favourite to win the title.

But Tabern, who was making his eighth appearance in the competition, made heavy work of disposing of his Brisbane-born rival after storming into a two sets lead and seemingly on course to complete a whitewash.

It didn't materialise as Smith pulled out all the stops to level the match at 2-2 and then appeared the best bet for a place in the next round.

However, Tabern, who had never previously lost in the first round of the tournament, showed all his experience and know-how to cross the finishing line and when he wiped his brow in sheer relief after the match-clinching dart had hit its target it showed what a scare he had been given

Hardly anyone will expect him, as a 1,000/1 outsider, to beat Mighty Mike but darts can be a funny game at times..