Stephen Bunting stormed into the third round of the William Hill World Darts Championships in a thrill-a-minute encounter with Jose Justicia at the Alexandra Palace last night (Wednesday).
Justicia played well but in a back and forth sudden death tie, it was Bunting who proved the master in the end of what was arguably the best match of the tournament so far.
The Bullet from St Helens hit 10 180’s, 48 per cent on doubles and high finishes of 148 and 124 en route to victory and looked good in the process.
Justicia started well defying a 102 average from Stephen Bunting to win the opening set 3-1, hitting a brilliant 128 checkout
He held his throw successfully on double six to go 1-0 up in the next set and he continued to take the game to Bunting.
Despite having the chance to, he couldn’t break his throw and Bunting levelled it up. He followed it up with a 148 checkout. Bunting missed multiple darts for the set but he wasn’t punished by Justicia and as a result it went to 1-1.
The Spaniard, however was far from over-awed and he streaked into a 2-0 lead, again hitting double 16 to double his lead in the third set. Bunting hit a 124 checkout to reduce the deficit so the pressure was now on the Spaniard to hold his nerve and go one set away.
He didn’t and Bunting broke again to put it into a deciding leg. A 72 checkout saw Bunting return to the foray and seal the deal to go one away himself.
Both players exchanged legs in the requisite set on throw so it was still very much anyone’s. ‘The Joker’ though held firm to seal the fourth set from there 3-1 to send it to a decider.
Bunting took the early initiative in the decider, finishing 70 on throw and he went one away with a 92 checkout but again it was never- say- die from Justicia who levelled it up to force sudden death which had to be won by two clear legs.
He pounced on Bunting missing the big number on 72 and then broke throw to go one away but again it went on as there was another break for Bunting. A 36 checkout saw him hold and go one away again.
Justicia did the same to draw it level again. Despite that, Bunting went one away on double four and he took the advantage to hit a 64 checkout and claim victory.
Dave Chisnall plays his first tie tonight (Thursday) when he faces the dangerous Dutchman Vincent Van der Voort and will be looking to progress to the latter stages now three of the seeds, Michael Smith, former world champion Rob Cross, and Ian White have fallen b the wayside