A field of 92 players took the first step towards the PDC World Championships as the second event of the DPA Pro Tour got underway at the Blue Cattle Dog in St Marys on Saturday. With the launch of new teams such as Team ACC Demolishers, Team Devil and Team Danger over the weekend there was plenty of excitement as they went head to head against established teams in Team Rebel and Team Maximum and the multitude of independent players on the circuit. At the end of the day it came down to two Queenslanders, independent James Bailey and Team Rebel’s Steve Macarthur. In the end it was James Bailey who came out victorious on a day that demonstrated the fact that darts in Australia is on the rise in terms of both exposure and depth of talent.
With 16 boards going it was hard to get out of the group stage with only the top two progressing. Tim Pusey (runners up in the previous night’s final) and Ryan Lynch progressed early in the afternoon. Justin Thompson and Dave Charnock qualified from their group whilst Loz Ryder and Kerry Allen progressed through an extremely difficult group. Lucas Cameron missed out after a three way play off moved Ryder and Allen through.
Mark Colbangan and GG Mathers both progressed first from their groups with Marshall Allen and Ian Dargan runners up respectively. Local Jerry Weyman topped his group with Ash Britt runners up whilst another local, Kevin Luland progressed as runners up after a play off in his group with Steve Powell finishing ahead of him. Bill Aitken, on his return to the series after a long layoff, and Adrian McDevitt got through their very difficult section, seeing off the likes of young Kiwi starlet Tahuna Irwin.
Pat Molloy won through in first place as the calibre of that group in a three way play off which included Manny Kato, Mick Lacey and Rhys Mathewson, which saw the latter progress. Big names Raymond Smith and Tic Bridge progressed through their group as expected whilst Ray O’Donnell continued his good form by winning his strong group. A three way play off in that group saw Beau McCann see off Kalani Hillman and Alex Evans. John Riley went through his group undefeated with Andrew Eagers second, having only lost to Riley. Craig Prizeman, Paul Lease, and Steve Macarthur had a three way play off for the top two positions in their group with Macarthur (1st) and Prizeman (2nd) progressing. Scott Johnson (top) and John Watkins progressed through. In the last groups NSW’s Mike Bonser and Team Danger’s Dave Williams and James Bailey and Tyler Fitch made it through to the draw for the round of 32.
The round of 32 saw Pat Molloy beat Kerry Allen 4-1 whilst John Riley clean swept Ash Britt. Loz Ryder set up with a round of 16 clash with Riley by defeating Ash Britt 4-0. Mark Colbangen defeated John Watkins by the same score line whilst James Bailey beat Craig Prizeman in five legs. Rhys Mathewson defeated Justin Thompson in a battle of the titans 4-2. GG Mathers also made it through by defeating Kevin Luland whilst Mike Bonser made it through against Marshall Allen (4 – 3.)
In the later matches of that round Tim Pusey won against Ryan Lynch (4 – 3), Steve Powell defeated Adrian McDevitt (4 – 2), Bill Aitken whitewashed Andrew Eagers, and Ray O’Donnell defeated Eagers team mate Dave Williams 4 – 1. Tyler Fitch took out Jerry Weyman 4-3 whilst Steve Macarthur eliminated Beau McCann 4-0. Scott Johnson continued his good form of the previous night with a tight 4-3 victory and in the final match of the round Raymond Smith beat Ian Dargan 4-0.
The round of 16 saw victories recorded for John Riley (6-1 over Ryder), Mike Bonser (6-3 over Mathewson), Tim Pusey (6-0 over Johnson), GG Mathers (6-4 over Colbangen), Steve Macarthur (6-5 over Smith), Tyler Fitch (6-2 over O’Donnell), James Bailey (6-3 over Molloy), and Steve Powell (6-5 over Aitken) Many of these would be considered upsets on paper but demonstrated the depth of quality player that will be a part of the tour this year.
The quarter finals looked like they would be tight affairs however two proved to be not so. Steve Macarthur defeated Tyler Fitch in his quarter comfortably with his opponent only able to win one leg of seven. Steve Powell overcame Tim Pusey by the same score line. In a closer match John Riley defeated Mike Bonser 6-4, the same score line as James Bailey defeated last year’s Pro Tour winner GG Mathers to set the four semi-finalists in places.
The Bailey v Riley semi-final looked one sided with a 6-0 score line but Riley had some chances throughout the match. With Bailey 3-0 up the Tasmanian missed tops for the leg that could have got him back into the match. With Riley on 73 in the fifth leg he could not convert over two visits and his opponent pounced once more. Even in the final leg Riley was on 68 and just missed a double for a check out only to watch as Bailey converted 60 with his next two darts to secure his position in the final.
The other semi-final saw Steve Macarthur move comfortably into a 5-1 lead. Some of the legs had been close but Macarthur had prevailed in all but one as he lined up to complete the match 6-1. However Steve Powell had other ideas and took out the next leg comfortably. With Macca on 56 Powell was able to check out 76 on his next visit and he threw his opponent under even more pressure when Macarthur missed tops for the match and Powell converted 68. He still needed to break against Macarthur’s throw though and the Team Rebel man moved to 82 to put pressure on his opponent. However Powell was good enough to get the 86 required on his next visit and lock the match up.
The final leg looked Powell’s throughout the leg as he moved to a comfortable lead. However he struggled to convert the 48 required and with both players throwing nervous darts at the end it was finally Macarthur who held his nerve enough to secure the leg and the match and move into the final against James Bailey.
So after a day filled with youngsters trying to upset the established stars it was two veterans that squared off in the second Pro Tour final of the year. James Bailey won the all-important bull for the first throw and he started strongly with a 140 followed up by 81. A 26 start from Macca was followed up with a more respectable 100 and the two moved closer together after visits of 81 and 140 respectively. Bailey got to the first conversion of the night but looking for 119 he had to leave 60. With Macarthur on 183 (he then moved to 142) Bailey missed two fat numbers and had to leave tops. Chasing the 142 Macarthur converted for a brilliant early steal.
In the second leg Macca had to consolidate but could only open with 60 but was left relatively unpunished by his opponent. The next time he was not so lucky as Bailey collected 120. With Bailey on 119 once more Macarthur moved from 185 to 145. Bailey could only collect 42 as Macarthur was unsuccessful at checking out the big number this time. Chasing 77 Bailey hit 19, 18 and 20 and once again Macca pounced in a leg he had been behind in.
Bailey started with consistent 100s in the third leg A 140 from Macarthur improved his lot a little to 260 but Bailey was on 178. Another 140 left Macca able to pounce and thus Bailey tried to check out 138, scoring 92. Macarthur once more hit the big check out (120) to take a second break and a three nil lead.
With memories of the comeback of Steve Powell in his semi-final still raw Macarthur would have known he needed to keep his foot down with the throw on the next leg, however Bailey moved 41 ahead after two visits each. Bailey could only leave 180 though and it left Macarthur with a shot at 160, which he failed to convert. 40 was required by James and he did so with his second dart to get a break back and finally collect a leg.
The next leg saw James Bailey open with a maximum as the momentum swung his way. He followed up with a 140 to leave 181. A 140 of his own put Macarthur on 261 in response. A poorer visit of 43 gave Macca an outside chance but he could only score 60 so Bailey stepped up at 138. Bailey did the professional thing and left tops with Macarthur not on a finish which he got with his next dart.
Macarthur tried to slow the momentum with a 100 opening in the next leg but this was matched by his opponent. A 60 visit was then left unpunished by Bailey (45). A 100 left Bailey slight ahead and with Macarthur on 181 Bailey tried to take full advantage but could only move from 256 to 175. Macarthur moved to 125 as Bailey moved to 80. 49 from Macarthur was not enough but neither was 40 from his opponent. Macarthur missed tops for the leg and a double ten with his last dart in hand put Bailey back on level terms at 3-3.
Bailey opened the next leg with an 80 (including an unfortunate bounce out.) Macca put the pressure on immediately with 140 which was then trounced by a 180 from Bailey. 41 left Macarthur on 320 whilst 85 left Bailey on a target of 156. With Macarthur well behind in the leg Bailey secured 85 to move to 71. A 140 from Macarthur put a little pressure on (80) but Bailey was able to overcome that and secured the leg to move to his first lead of the match.
With Macarthur now behind he opened with a confident 140. A 123 from Bailey later in the leg put him back in the leg but the Team Rebel man responded with a 125. On his own throw Macarthur moved to 131 as Bailey left the big fish, 170. Macarthur missed tops for the leg but Bailey could not get his second dart in the treble twenty. Macarthur converted to move the score to 4-4 in legs.
A 60 start from his opponent gave Macarthur a chance to punish early in the leg and he took it with a 125 visit first up. However a second poorer visit saw him fall back into the grasp of James Bailey. With Macarthur enjoying a slight lead Bailey only scored 60 and a 140 from Macca moved him to 123. With Bailey on 136 Macarthur missed the bull for the leg. With 96 from Bailey Macarthur took the chance to break for a third time and regain the lead at 5-4.
A leg away Macarthur showed no nerves by opening with a 140. However James Bailey showed he would not be rolling over and opened with the same score. Both players then exchanged the same score on their next visit before another 140 moved Macarthur to 161. Again it was replicated by Bailey. Macca scored 92 with his shot at the score as a 137 from Bailey certainly piled the pressure on. Macarthur missed tops for the match and Bailey took the leg on his next visit to get his third break of the match and tie it back up after ten legs.
Bailey opened up on his own throw with 45 but his opponent was unable to really punish it by scoring 62. 87 from Bailey moved him to 369 as Macarthur scored 83 to move to 356. 13 behind and Bailey could only collect 81 as his opponent scored the maximum 180 on his next visit to the oche. Bailey responded with exactly the same to leave 108. Macarthur moved from 176 to 76 with a century. James Bailey then secured the 105 for the victory, scoring a three figure finish of his own, as Macarthur had down so often earlier in the match.
Round of 32
Loz Ryder 4 Tic Bridge 3
John Riley 4 Ash Britt 0
Mike Bonser 4 Marshall Allen 3
Rhys Mathewson 4 Justin Thompson 2
Pat Molloy 4 Kerry Allen 1
James Bailey 4 Craig Prizeman 1
GG Mathers 4 Kevin Luland 2
Mat Colbangen 4 John Watkins 0
Tim Pusey 4 Ryan Lynch 3
Scott Johnson 4 Dave Charnock 3
Steve Powell 4 Adrian McDevitt 2
Bill Aitken 4 Andrew Eagers 0
Raymond Smith 4 Ian Dargan 0
Steve Macarthur 4 Beau McCann 0
Jerry Weyman 3 Tyler Fitch 4
Ray O’Donnell 4 Dave Williams 1
Round of 16
John Riley 6 Loz Ryder 1
Mike Bonser 6 Rhys Mathewson 3
James Bailey 6 Pat Molloy 3
GG Mathers 6 Mat Colbangen 4
Tim Pusey 6 Scott Johnson 0
Steve Powell 6 Bill Aitken 5
Steve Macarthur 6 Raymond Smith 5
Tyler Fitch 6 Ray O’Donnell 2
John Riley 6 Mike Bonser 4
James Bailey 6 GG Mathers 4
Steve Powell 6 Tim Pusey 1
Steve Macarthur 6 Tyler Fitch 1
James Bailey 6 John Riley 0
Steve Macarthur 6 Steve Powell 5
James Bailey 6 Steve Macarthur 5