Wales, the Netherlands and Germany advanced to the World Darts Championships final

Wales, the Netherlands and Germany advanced to the World Darts Championships final

Former champions Wales and the Netherlands shone on the opening night of the World Cup of Darts, as host nation Germany defeated Spain in a deciding-leg thriller in Frankfurt on Thursday.

The second seeds produced the performance of the night at the Eissporthalle, averaging just over 99 to set up an intriguing last 16 showdown against 2021 finalists Austria.

Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton won Wales’ first World Cup in 2020, when they reaffirmed their title credentials with a strong performance against Lourence Ilagan and RJ Escaros of the Philippines.

Price and Clayton appeared poised to run riot following a blistering start, with Clayton following up a maximum from his fellow countryman by cleaning up 84 in two darts for an 11-dart opener.

“I’ve been doubting myself recently, so today was a big confidence boost,” admitted Price, the 2021 world champion.

Ilagan and Escaros fought back to level at two apiece for the Philippines, but finishes of 106 and 108 from Price, sandwiched between a 13-darter, saw them run out convincing 5-2 winners.

“We have a great bond,” Clayton added. “As long as we play our game, I think we’ve got a fantastic chance of getting our title back.”

Price and Clayton now lock horns with last year’s runners-up, Mensur Suljovic and Rowby-John Rodriguez, after the Austrian duo defied a spirited fightback from Finland’s Marko Kantele and Aki Paavilainen to progress.

Netherlands’ new-look pairing of Danny Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode breezed through to round two with a whitewash win over Brazil’s Diogo Portela and Artur Valle. Van Duijvenbode, a replacement for Michael van Gerwen – who has undergone surgery on an arm injury – produced an accomplished display alongside UK Open champion Noppert, as the Dutch duo eye a fifth World Cup crown for their nation.

Germany’s Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler came through an epic first round encounter against Spain’s Jose Justicia and Tony Martinez to the delight of the home crowd. The seventh seeds seized the initiative midway through the contest, with Clemens’ 146 finish in leg five swiftly followed by a classy 108 from Schindler in the sixth.

However, the pair then squandered ten match darts between them in an extraordinary conclusion, before Clemens regained his poise to pin double six in a breathless deciding leg which saw Spain left waiting on 24. “I have no words. It’s amazing. I am so happy,” said Clemens, the German No 1.

“I’ve been telling everybody all week, we are going to win it,” insisted Gurney, a two-time TV title winner. “I’ve got one of the best gentlemen, one of the best dart players in the world playing alongside me. I would absolutely love to win the World Cup with Brendan.”

Daryl Gurney vowed to lead Northern Ireland to World Cup glory alongside Brendan Dolan, after they survived a scare to see off Gibraltar’s vibrant young pairing of Justin Hewitt and Craig Galliano. “It is a lot of pressure because you want to win for the fans, but I hope we have a full crowd on Saturday, and hopefully we can have another great game.”

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