Wright affirms himself as one of the front-runners for the title (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Peter Wright sent out an emphatic message to the field by thrashing Simon Whitlock 11-2 to reach the Quarter-Finals of the 2019 World Matchplay on Wednesday, where he was joined by Stephen Bunting, Rob Cross and Daryl Gurney.
Wright continued the blistering form which has led him to three consecutive PDC titles as he swept aside the Australian ace with a 103 average, seven 180s and a 170 checkout to boot.
The number six seed afforded Whitlock only five darts at doubles in the entire contest as he stormed through to the Last Eight for the fifth consecutive year at the Winter Gardens.
“I’ve found the little bit of magic I need and I’m going to get even better,” said Wright.
“It was a shame I didn’t hit the nine-darter, but I’m throwing at a good pace, I’ve got the right darts and I feel really comfortable with them.
“This is a hard tournament but all the big names are gone and I think the hardest half of the draw now is the bottom half.”
Night Five of the prestigious major also saw Bunting recover from 9-4 down and survive five match darts before edging out Ian White a tense tie-break 14-12.
White, who hit ten of the game’s nineteen 180s, appeared to be cruising through to his first televised Quarter-Final in over two years after opening up a 9-4 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 ten 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 ten 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.
“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.”
Cross ran out a convincing 11-5 over Krzysztof Ratajski to reach the Quarter-Finals for the first time at the Winter Gardens.
After dangerous debutant Ratajski took a 2-0 lead, a relentless display saw the 2018 World Champion win nine legs without reply to take a stranglehold of the tie.
Polish number one Ratajski kept fighting and won three of the next four legs to make the scoreline respectable at 10-5, but Cross was not to be stopped and he wrapped up the win on double 16, his 11th successful shot at the outer ring from 19 attempts.
Gurney made it through to the Last Eight for a second time in three years thanks to a hard-fought 11-9 victory over Keegan Brown.
Two-time TV title winner Gurney – who ended the match with eight 180s to his name – broke throw in the second leg on his way to an early 3-0 lead, before the next 11 legs all went with throw in a tight contest to leave Gurney 8-6 in front.
Leg 15 saw Brown break the Gurney throw for the first time, only for the Northern Irishman to break straight back before holding throw to go within a leg of the match at 10-7.
A resilient Brown clinched back-to-back legs to cut the gap to 10-9, only for Gurney to find a last-dart double four to prevent a tie-break.
Betfred World Matchplay 2019 Results
Wednesday July 24
Daryl Gurney 11-9 Keegan Brown
Stephen Bunting 14-12 Ian White
Rob Cross 11-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Peter Wright 11-2 Simon Whitlock