ROBERT THORNTON 3-2 Phil Taylor
Robert Thornton came out on top in an incredible second round match against Phil Taylor at the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix in Dublin.
After an almighty battle, in which Thornton slotted in no less than eight 180s, the pair could not be separated until a tense final leg, in which ‘The Power’ threw first.
‘The Thorn’ got off the mark with his first dart, before a timely 177 from the 15-time World Champion looked to have wrapped up the match for Taylor.
But when he missed five darts at the the match double, Thornton stepped in to take the victory on double top.
“Phil missed a few doubles but I never gave in,” said Thornton, who posted an average 96.67, which is remarkably high in the double-start format.
“I’ve been playing really well so I wouldn’t say the result is a surprise.
“I’ve been focusing more and practising more. That’s why I’ve been playing so well. It’s been paying off and I’m looking forward to the next match already.”
Taylor took the first leg but Thornton hit back in style, taking out 84 on the bull.
‘The Power’ held his throw again, despite a maximum from ‘The Thorn’, who missed two darts at double top, allowing Taylor to take the first set.
Another 180 followed but it wasn’t enough to prevent Taylor holding his throw.
The Scotsman’s fifth maximum did help him take the next leg though, and he took the set by breaking his opponent’s throw with the aid of a clinical 101 checkout.
The UK Open champion hammered home yet another 180, as he took the first leg of set three against the throw.
He just missed double ten for 140 checkout, letting the world number one in to break back immediately.
Thornton went back in front though, after a brilliant leg which started with 160 and ended with a cool 104 finish.
Taylor responded in kind once more, hitting double 16 to leave himself throwing for the third set.
‘The Thorn’ fought back again, producing another stunning leg to go a set ahead, with another break of throw.
Taylor took all three legs in the fourth set, levelling up the match.
A seventh 180 from Thornton wasn’t enough to break Taylor’s throw in the first leg of the decider.
The Scotsman hit double top to level, and hammered in his eighth 180 in the next leg but was again unable to stop ‘The Power’ edging in front.
Thornton missed a dart at the bull for a 95 checkout, but found the double four bed to force the deciding leg, where he held his nerve to book his place in the last eight.
‘The Thorn’ will face Mervyn King in Friday’s quarter-finals.
By Chris Murphy
Images courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC