Around many parts of Australia the sound of darts hitting the board was heard as the DPA Harrows Darts Challenge Tour got off the ground for the very first time. This gave the chance for those without a pro tour card to take on each other in various locations.
In Young NSW 26 players played the first tournament there with Anthony Hatch and Joshua Townsend winning their semifinals (both 4-3, over Steve Luby and Rod Crawford respectively) to progress to the final. The final saw Townsend defeat Luby 5-2. The straight knock out tournament that directly followed late Saturday afternoon saw Townsend and Luby both make the semifinals once more, but this time they took on each other at that stage, with Townsend victorious once more (this time 6-2.) In the other semifinal Greg LeStrange defeated Jason Mudge 6-1 to take on Townsend in the final. Townsend’s undefeated streak in knock out stages on the day continued as he notched up his second win of the day by taking out the final in the decider of an 11 leg thriller.
Come Sunday and the 25 entrants for tournament three were whittled down to the semifinalists where the names involved demonstrated that class is not missing on this tour. Joining Townsend and LeStrange in the semifinals this time were Mick Lean and Daniel Sim. Lean defeated LeStrange in a deciding leg whilst Townsend continued his white hot form by defeating Sim 4-0. The final saw Townsend pick up a hat trick of events with a 5-3 win. The fourth event, another straight knock out, saw LeStrange and Townsend joined in the semifinals by Rod Crawford and Adam Faulkner. Townsend again progressed, this time with a 6-5 victory over Adam Faulkner in a great match. He faced LeStrange in the final for a second time on the weekend (both the knockout events) as Le Strange defeated Crawford 6-2 in the other semifinal. For the fourth time of the weekend Townsend won the final, this time 6-2, to clean sweep in Young NSW.
At Queensland’s Pine Rivers over 50 players were present on the Saturday and as in Young one man stood tall. Jamie Rundle won both events on the day. In the first event he was taken in the final to the final leg by Tony Davy before winning the match. Davy had defeated Dave Marshall in a tight semifinal whilst Rundle had whitewashed David Ward. In the straight knockout tournament Rundle defeated Jovan Tipuna 4-1 to make the final whilst Tylor Horvat won by the same score line over Bob Schroder. The Final went completely Rundle’s way as he won five legs straight. On the Sunday third event the final was a replica of day one’s opening event with Jamie Rundle defeating Tony Davy again by 5 legs to 4. In the semifinals Rundle had put another opponent to the sword with a 4-0 whitewash of Beau McCrea whilst Davy had to play yet another final deciding leg, winning 4-3 in the semifinal once more, this time over Adam Reynolds. The score lines of the semifinals and final (and the winners) amazingly exactly replicating tournament one the day before.
The fourth event saw one name make the semifinal four that had done so previously over the weekend, that being Beau McCrea, but for Dave Evans, Donovan Lottering and Alex Devaney this presented a whole new opportunity. Lottering defeated Evans 4-2 whilst Devaney defeated McCrae by the same score line. In the final it was Lottering who defeated Devaney by five legs to three, finishing with a 146 final check out, to become the second winner of an event at Pine Rivers over the weekend.
Further south, at Sunbury Victoria, 28 players took to the oche. The semifinalists of the first tournament were Dean Gibbs, Kjell Ove Almeland, Aaron Bradley and Bordy Klinge. Gibbs and Klinge progressed to the final with wins over Almeland (4-2) and Bradley (4-0) respectively. In the final Klinge took down the veteran professional Gibbs five legs to three. In the knockout played following Pat Dargan and Marshall Jarvis joined Gibbs and Almeland in the semifinals. Dargan and Gibbs lost to Jarvis (5-2) and Almeland (5-4) respectively. In the final Kjell Ove Almeland won five legs straight to take the final 5-0 over Jarvis.
On Sunday event three’s quarter finals saw Gibbs get his revenge over Klinge by beating him 4-2. Steven Fox defeated Kate Gifford 4-2, and Russell Verlinden won by the score line over Pat Dargan at the same stage, with Troy Jackson joining the other three in the semifinals by defeating Almeland. Amazingly all four quarters finished the same score line. In the semifinals Gibbs lost to Troy Jackson (another 4-2 score line) as Verlinden defeated Fox 4-1. The final was Verlinden’s as he won well with a 5-2 final score line recorded. The final event was a straight knockout as Kjull Ove Almeland and Brody Klinge made yet another semi final with both winning through (over Curt Horvatek and Darren Durose respectively.) The two winners of the Saturday events now went head to head in the final and it was Klinge who came out triumphant, thanks to a 5-1 victory.
At the dartboard in Mollymook, event one saw 17 players be a part of the round robin stage. The event was whittled down to four players and then two as Russell Northy defeated Dave Boyle 4-2 and Danny Watson won in a deciding leg over Rodney Plumb. In the final Watson outlasted Northy 5-3 to take out the first event. In the knockout, event 2, Plumb and Northy made the semifinals once again, this time joined by Gary McGregor and Darren Wolter-Gumley. Plumb won the deciding leg against McGregor whilst Northy won 4-1 over Wolter-Gumley. The final saw Plumb take down the previous winner by defeating Northy five legs to two.
On Sunday event three all four players who made the semifinals had reached that stage the day before. In these semifinals Russell Northy qualified for another final by defeating Danny Watson whilst Dave Boyle made his first final by beating Gary McGregor. In the final Northy returned to winning ways at that stage as he won 5-2 over Boyle. In the final event of the day Dave Boyle defeated Alf Wyatt 4-2 as Evan Lane fell 3-4 to McGregor at the semifinal stage. Boyle would then lose his second final of the day as McGregor gained revenge for his loss to Boyle in the previous event by defeating him 5-4.
In South Australia Murray Bridge was the venue and in the first event Kevin Young defeated Darren Young and Scott Goold beat Deb Leonard in tight semifinals to make the first final. Goold then won that final 5-3 to be the first winner of the challenge tour in South Australia. The knockout that night saw an all female semifinal as Leonard defeated Wendy Broadbent 5-3 before Kevin Young made his second final in a row. It would be Young’s second final loss as Broadbent defeated him 5-3.
With Goold and Young falling at the quarter final stage of event three on Sunday it was left to Leonard and Darren Young to be the only two semifinalists who had previously got to that stage, with Michael Nicholls and Martin Rose joining them. The two previous semifinalists went head to head with Leonard defeating another Young (4-2) over the weekend as Rose was victorious four legs to two over Nicholls in the other semi. The final was one way traffic as Rose won 5-0 over Leonard. Event four was straight knockout once more and Nicholls and Rose took on each other in the semis once more (another win to Rose, this time 5-3) as Kevin Young (who had got his own revenge against Deb Leonard the previous round) took on Scott Goold. Goold won 5-2 to make his second final of the weekend. In the final Martin Rose won his second final of the day, with a 5-3 victory over Goold.
In western Sydney, at the Mount Pritchard Hotel, Kerry Allen won the day events on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday he whitewashed Chad Kainuku 4-0 in the semifinals whilst in a cracking match Wayne Blair outlasted James O’Doherty (who failed with his one match dart) four legs to three. The final saw the experienced Allen turn up the heat as he won the match 5-1. On the Sunday he would win the final by the same score line when defeating Alex Clark. Clark had defeated Fran Shore 4-2 at the semifinal stage with Allen repeating his victory over Blair in the other semi, with Blair only able to take one leg off him once more.
In the knockout on Saturday night O’Doherty was able to make the final, thanks to a 5-1 win over Ian Sobey. In the other semi Zinzan Culshaw defeated Shore 5-1. The final was another cracking match but this time O’Doherty took his chance in the deciding leg to win 5-4. On Sunday the knockout event saw Allen win through to another final but it was a tough road with matches against Mitchell Turner, Jamie Budd, Scott Johnson and a 4-1 semifinal victory over the ever consistent O’Doherty. Liam McLennon did not lose a leg to make it to the semifinals and at that stage he defeated Craig Hussey 4-2 to set a final against Allen. It was Allen who took out a hat trick of events, this time winning the final 5-3.
Allen was delighted with the hat trick, “I would love to play more but work prevents that. This is a great opportunity to be involved in the game and I have really enjoyed the weekend, although it is tiring. To win three is amazing considering the talent we have had here over the weekend.”
Overall there were six venues across four states with four events at each venue. The number of participants was exciting considering this was the first time the Harrows Darts Challenge Tour had been played and tour card holders could not play in the tour. The tour continues in most places in a months’ time, when Tasmania will also debut its Harrows Darts Challenge Tour events.