Stephen Bunting reaches Matchplay quarter final with dramatic last leg win

Stephen Bunting
Stephen Bunting

St Helens have two representatives in the quarter finals of the Betfred World Dart Matchplay - and both Michael Smith and Stephen Bunting are guaranteed at least £25,000 in prize money for their efforts so far.

Bunting joined Smith in the last eight after producing a stunning comeback last night (Wednesday), recovering from 9-4 down and surviving fivematch darts before winning a tense tie-break 14-12. against Ian White.

White, who hit 10 of the game's 19 180s, appeared to be cruising through to his first televised quarter-final in over two years after opening up a five leg cushion-4 lead, before Bunting won four successive legs to cut the gap to one.

Tenth seed White stopped the rot with a break of throw to go within a leg of victory at 10-8, but missed three clear darts at double 16 in the following leg, allowing Bunting to land double top to trail 10-9.

The next leg saw White miss another two darts for the match, and Bunting once again stepped in to pin double 10 and take the match to a tie-break.

White held to regain the lead, and a strong leg saw him waiting on 48 to break throw, only for Bunting to step in and take out a roof-raising 110 checkout to level once again.

The next two legs both went against throw, but after White burst his score twice when aiming for double eight, Bunting eventually mopped up double 10 to lead 13-12 before completing the incredible comeback on double 16 in the final leg of the memorable contest.

"It's special to reach the last eight of my favourite tournament, it's a massive moment in my career," said Bunting, who will face former world champion Rob Cross in the quarter-finals tomorrow (Friday)..

"It's crazy really when I think of the players I've beaten on that stage, Ian is a special player.

"I know I can do it, it's just about consistency and pushing myself to the limit and I believe I'm doing that now.

"I was so nervous but when I hit the winning double I took a deep breath before it and I was so relieved to see it go in."

Smith will be in action tonight (Thursday) when he comes up against Mervyn King who KO'd the defending champion Gary Anderson in the last 16.