Luke gives Dirk the Hump in last-gasp thriller

Report by Jethro Bremner-Allison.


Ryan Searle admits he needs to find a hotel after extending his stay in Blackpool by sending number 2 seed Peter Wright tumbling out of the World Matchplay.  

The top FIVE seeds have all now tumbled before the Quarter Final stage, leaving majorless Luke Humphries as the highest seed still standing.  

Remarkably, it is the first time since 2014 that there is no Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith, Michael Van Gerwen or Peter Wright in the last 8 of a major.  

Searle didn’t need to perform anywhere near his Barney best from Monday to progress, a 95 average and a 32% double hit rate was more than enough to edge past an out-of-sorts Snakebite.  

“It was a scrappy game compared to Monday” Ryan conceded “Peter has not been in the best form, but you never know when he might turn it around”  

Ryan was never behind in the whole match as he kept Peter at arms length, either with a one or two break advantage throughout the contest. In truth, if he’d played to his recent level, this match wouldn’t have been as close as the final 11-8.  

Both players had flickers of their form, but the notes were mainly made on missed doubles, profligacy and frustrating inconsistencies rather than the usual superlatives you would use to describe this pair.  

When Searle spotted the finish line though, he dipped for the line, taking a clean 112 finish whilst Peter toiled to find a treble when it was imperative to do so.  

“I’ve a job on my hands versus Johnny Clayton” Searle said afterwards. It’ll really depend on which version of each player we’ll see as both as have had one dominating performance out of 2 this week.   


Luke Humphries survived a match dart in a tie break 14-12 win over Dirk Van Duijvenbode as for the second time in as many weeks these two played out a classic.    

Both players spent the first half of the game averaging 90 and missing doubles but as the finish line approached, scoring begun to surge, the speed of the throw increased and the tension ratcheted like never before.  

Luke said “I felt really flat and tired, I was so proud I dug it out and the pressure did tell in the end”  

At 7-5 down Luke clearly mouthed “what is wrong with me?” after another disappointing visit to the board and as he fell 8-5 behind, Dirk was in charge.  

From Leg 16 it was pure drama, a Luke 11 darter, followed by a 10 for Dirk. The Aubergine farmer sat on the cusp of victory in leg 20, 10-9 ahead and on 176 with Luke languishing on 401. However, a total collapse in the next 9 darts meant Dirk didn’t even get a match dart as Luke nicked the unlikeliest of legs.  

When you though momentum had swung, Dirk then pinned a big fish finish in the playoff and the raucous Blackpool crowd had no idea what would happen next.  

A couple of holds had us at 12-12 and Luke struck, this time decisively. An 88 finish that was priceless and Dirk looked as though he’d taken a blow to the solar plexus. Luke was able to hold and see out the match 14-13 sending the partisan crowd wild and Cool Hand leaping across the stage in delight and relief.  

“Some days they go- some days they don’t. I dug deep and that’s what champions do. I’m going to be a tough player to beat”  


Damon Heta reappeared on the stage for his R2 tie with his Australian cricket gear and then wrapped up his game with Brendan Dolan with an innings to spare.  

Heta cruised through the game, never needing to get out of second gear as Dolan completely capitulated under the Blackpool lights, surrendering to a 11-1 loss. 

“Brendo didn’t show up it’s as simple as that” an apologetic Heta said afterwards.  

Dolan had warned after his sensational win over Michael Van Gerwen in R1 his Achillies heel was following up a great performance with another and that came to pass as he averaged just 89 and a measly 7% on the doubles.  

Heta got off to a strong start, taking the first 2 legs with some Pythagoras darts. Both times it looked as though the bed was completely covered, but he worked out some hasty mathematics to fashion an angle to sneak them both home.   

This set the tone and Dolan finished the first stanza 5-0 down with a demoralising 0/10 on his doubles. It barely improved across the other sessions, although he did manage to pin 1 double to avoid the whitewash.  

With Smith, MvG & Price all eliminated, Heta was asked whether he felt he was a contender for the title and with typical Australian ebullience he declared “I would, even if they were in”.  


The Ferret landed a big fish, 156 and 126 on route to a classy victory over previous Matchplay champion Dimitri Van Den Bergh. “Ton plus finishes look good and feel good” a beaming Clayton admitted.  

Dimi is at least a semi-finalist ordinarily in Blackpool and Clayton came into the match over a disappointing display in R1, but none of this mattered as the Welshman roared his way to a 11-6 win.  

“Thank God the darts went good” said Clayton “now Gezzy is home, I’ll keep the Welsh flag flying.  

The game set off as most expected, tight and tense with both players landing ton plus finishes in the early legs. At 4-4 there was a sense this would be close, however it was time for the Ferret to put on the afterburners and take the next 4 legs on the trot.  

Once this lead was established, there was no way it was being relinquished and despite Dimi taking a few legs on throw, Clayton cruised over the line with a 126 in Leg 16 and a clean break in Leg 17 to progress.  

A glance at the stats showed that The Ferret almost bullied Dimi on the board, muscling in a 101.9 average and a very healthy 58% on doubles to show he’s definitely trending in the right direction in this tournament.