Price celebrates a fabulous comeback win (credit:Kais Bodensieck/PDC Europe)
Gerwyn Price battled back from 5-0 down to defeat Nathan Aspinall 10-6 for a place in the European Championship Quarter-Finals in Gottingen on Saturday, while Vincent van der Voort, Michael Smith and Jeffrey de Zwaan also progressed.
Grand Slam champion Price looked to be heading for a third consecutive televised defeat to Aspinall after losing the first five legs, only to reel off ten of the next eleven legs to clinch a magnificent victory.
The Welsh star landed seven maximums and averaged 103.8 in a sublime display at the Lokhalle to remain in the running for his second major title in the space of 12 months.
The former Rugby player admitted: “When you’re 5-0 down you just think to yourself ‘try to win a leg or two to make the score look decent.
“So when I got it back to 5-5 I didn’t even care about losing because I was just happy it was going to be a respectable score. I think the 132 to go 9-6 up won me the match.
“If Wales can win the Rugby World Cup semi-final tomorrow morning and I can win this tournament tomorrow night I will be a very happy man!”
After Price had won five legs on the spin to level the contest, Aspinall stopped the rot to regain the upper-hand.
The pivotal moment came in the 15th leg when, having already missed two darts to go within a leg of Price, Aspinall watched his opponent take out 132 on the bull to move within a leg of victory.
Price’s passage to the Last Eight was then complete as he converted double 12 to secure a memorable win.
He will now face Van der Voort on Sunday afternoon after the Dutchman punished Chris Dobey for 17 missed darts at doubles to secure a 10-5 win and progress to his first televised ranking Quarter-Final in four years.
The former UK Open finalist kept his opponent at arm’s length throughout the encounter and ended with an average of 96.6 in a solid showing.
“In August I was debating whether to carry on playing, I had a long talk with Michael [van Gerwen] about it and he encouraged me not to give up,” revealed Van der Voort.
“So I decided that for these next five years I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to get myself back to the top.
“Before I was just turning up and playing, now I’m here because I want to win and perform.”
Smith’s quest to claim a first televised ranking title continues after the world number four claimed a 10-7 win over fellow St Helens thrower Stephen Bunting.
Smith raced in to a 3-0 lead with a 158 checkout in the process, before Bunting reduced the deficit to just one at the first break.
The World Matchplay finalist then stretched his foothold to 9-5, before accidentally swallowing some ice on stage, which appeared to slow his charge as Bunting pulled two legs back.
A tops-tops 100 checkout did eventually get Smith over the line to maintain his consistent record in televised competition this season.
“I felt good and all of a sudden I swallowed a bit of ice when I was having a drink, my eyes were watering whilst I was trying to take out 96!” joked Smith.
“I’m just happy to get the win, that’s the most important thing and I’m still going for tomorrow.”
The win sets up a Quarter-Final clash with Jeffrey de Zwaan – who overcame his fellow countryman Jermaine Wattimena 10-6 in a rapid encounter.
Six 180s and over 50 per cent on his finishing saw the 23-year-old reach his first televised Quarter-Final since last summer’s World Matchplay.
The meeting with Smith will be only their second televised show-down, with the Englishman winning the first in a deciding set at the 2015 World Championship.
“It was a really tough game, we are from the same country so I really wanted to beat him,” said De Zwaan.
“I lost my first World Championship match against Michael Smith, but I have a good record against him since then so I will do my best and see what happens.”
Unibet European Championship 2019 Results
Saturday October 26
Vincent van der Voort 10-5 Chris Dobey
Michael Smith 10-7 Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price 10-6 Nathan Aspinall
Jeffrey De Zwaan 10-6 Jermaine Wattimena