Price and Smith OUT on night of shocks

By Jethro Bremner-Allison.


Joe Cullen declared before the match with tournament favourite Gerwyn Price “In my mind, I should win” and he showed that his confidence wasn’t misplaced as he dispatched tournament favourite Gerwyn Price 13-11 in the match of the tournament so far.  

In a see saw match Cullen surged into an 8-5 lead that saw Price being the dominant scorer whilst being profligate on doubles whilst Cullen’s scoring was inconsistent but was deadly on the outer ring.  

Price suddenly clicked and showed why he’s a world champion reeling 5 legs off in a row and all of a sudden the double tops looked unmissable for the Ice Man. The roar he produced to make it 10-8 led you to believe he’d weathered the Cullen storm.  

Far from it though as Cullen held in leg 19 and when Price missed bullseye for the match, Cullen stepped up and landed his own bull to send the Winter Gardens into a frenzy. He wasn’t done there, repeating the trick in leg 21 for a pair of beautiful bulls.  

By now the pace was frenetic and they were both in centre ring launching haymakers, the crowd absorbed with the pace and quality of the game. Price went Tops/Tops to get us to 11-11 and nobody knew the outcome.  

Cullen had a clean kill 74 holding in leg 23 and with Price sat on a handy finish, he sensationally checked out a 112 to round off a remarkable game and send the fans into raptures. Price could only applaud as the Rockstar strutted around the stage, drinking in the adulation.  

Speaking afterwards, Cullen said “Checkouts won me the game, even at 10-8 I felt I could still win. I ground it out tonight, that’s a different side of the game I’ve got”  


Daryl Gurney announced his return to the elite of darts with a virtuosic performance on the doubles put him into the Quarter Final at the expense of Gary Anderson 11-4 declaring “I’ll be hard to beat”  

Anderson could count himself very unlucky to meet Gurney who appears to have rediscovered his major winning form after a rankings slide. The first 6 legs were perfection on the outer ring from Daryl Gurney, 100% success and put him in a commanding lead.  

Gary ironically celebrated his first leg on the board as he needed a perfect 121 just to register on the scoreboard. The pressure Gurney put on, requiring perfection from his opponent to fight back proved too much in leg 10 as Gary missing two darts to make it 7-3 at the second break. 8-2 made it an almost hopeless prospect for Scotland’s 2x world champion.  

Despite giving the impression of a man with a clear mind, Daryl admitted he was thinking of a previous match where he chucked away a big lead. “At 8-2, I thought don’t you dare do a Rob Cross”  

Gary gamely battled on, holding his throw after a back to back 180 onslaught from Gurney to make it 9-3 but Gurney refused to be denied, looking unflappable combined with everything working technically. The Flying Scotsman could have no complaints with Gurney’s 104 average and 69% on doubles.  

Daryl admitted “I’ve never outscored Gary in my life, I was proud of that. This year Gary is on form and I am improving again, my finishing was great. I took my chances” 


Chris Dobey sensationally dumped out world champion Michael Smith to set up a quarter final tie with his housemate for the week Nathan Aspinall.  

At 5-2 up, Bully Boy had 3 darts to make it 6-2. He blew that chance and it signalled a sea change in the game where Dobey went on a 6 leg blitz to lead 8-5.  

“My finishing was spectacular from what I’m used to” admitted Dobey “I wasn’t in the game early doors, but I put in a couple of big shots”  

As Dobey befriended the outer ring, Michael Smith was uncharacteristically sloppy, missing time and time again. Both created chances, but only one man was taking them. His D19/D19 finish in leg 14 was the pick of a spectacular bunch.  

After the PL campaign, Dobey is now no stranger to these occasions and he really feels it’s helped him in other tournaments too “Playing the best in the world every week has made me a better player, with more experience”  

That bore out as he appeared nerveless homing in on the finishing line. Smith missed his usual double chance opening up 3 on tops for the match which Dobey nailed in 1 to give him 11/16 on his doubles for the match, 69%. With the scoring averages both around 99, this was the stand out stat as Bully Boy’s finishing sat at just 35%.  

When asked the best way to beat house mate Aspinall next time around, Dobey joked “I think I’ll just smother him in his sleep”  


Nathan Aspinall won battle of the 8/9 seeds as he progressed to a QF Date with either Michael Smith or Chris Dobey after a game which probably dropped below the expected levels of these world class players.  

This game always promised to be close and as expected it went all the way to a tie-break as Aspinall took the match 11-9.  

“I’m so happy to scrape through, the crowd were absolutely unreal. Now I know how Gezzy feels in Cardiff” a relieved Aspinall said after the match.  

In truth neither player could profess to playing their best with Noppert hanging onto Aspinall’s coat tails throughout in a display which replicated his first round match where he couldn’t seem to find any consistency at all.  

There’s an argument to say that this was dragging Aspinall down with him and when he broke back to make the game 9-9 you sensed there could be a James Wade scenario when he wins matches with a 91 average and their opponent has no idea how.  

However, the lack of scoring finally punished Noppert as he conceded both leg 21 & 22 to give Aspinall the deserved win.  

Looking ahead to the quarter final the Asp joked “I’ve got to improve on first 2 games, but in the meantime I’m going change my shirt and watch Smith & Dobey sweat it out”  

Images by Taylor Lanning.