Bunting Stowes Buntz & Heta Caught in Cross Fire

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Stephen Bunting ended the fairytale run of Stowe Buntz at the Grand Slam of Darts, sending the American packing 16-8 at the quarter-final stage.

Over a long-format match like this, the key for Buntz was always going to be keeping close to his opponent. And an albeit scrappy first leg, closed out in 21 darts, helped to get him on his way.

The rest of the first session was little comfort however. The Bullet proceeded to reel off the next four legs, including legs 2 and 3 in a very easy 13 and 12 darts respectively. Time to take stock for Stowe.

Leg 6 stopped the rot for Buntz, but a fifth leg for Bunting only added more pressure. The subsequent three legs however showed Buntz at his steely best, knuckling down to restore parity, including holding off a 160 attempt from Stephen in leg 9.

After trading consecutive legs, it took the former BDO World Champion just 26 darts to be 8-6 up and at the halfway mark. Maximums from the pair in the next leg helped to raise the quality.

It was ultimately Bunting who won out, establishing a three-leg lead. But the match was far from beyond Buntz.

A 101 and 126 to pass double figures was more than enough for Bunting to assert his control. Both missed opportunities for ton-plus outs in the following leg, but it was Stowe who cleaned up.

A cool and calculated 97 followed, before a clean-up job on double 2, to take Bunting within three legs of the match.

Soon, Bunting was only two away, but a promising chance at 146 in the next leg went amiss.

It allowed Buntz to shore up a much needed leg, at this point only consolation. 15-8 was achieved at a canter, the match won out in the following leg with few fireworks.

“When you come in at 5-all after being 4-1 up, it’s a bit of a knockout blow,” Bunting told Darts World after the match.

“But I just tried to come back out and pull ahead, and those couple of legs’ break proved the difference.”

“My finishing was also really good tonight. It felt like everything I was going for was going in within 3 darts.”

Bunting will now play Rob Cross in Sunday afternoon’s semi-final session.

Cross romps home to over Heta:

Rob Cross produced a convincing rout of Damon Heta in Saturday’s final quarter-final, defeating The Heat 16-6.

The session’s second quarter-final offered high prospects of tungsten drama, but began in more quietly simmering tones, four legs of 16 and 15 darts leaving the pair 2 apiece.

Soon enough, Cross would establish the first daylight, taking a 5-3 lead courtesy of a break of throw. Two tidy 140s helped Heta bring it back to a one-leg difference, but it would be Cross who had the advantage going into the third session. All the markers of a closely matched game.

A solid duo of games duly ensued for Heta, the match poised to swing in the Australian’s favour. But a string of mediocre visits, which saw only one high-scoring treble from Heta in the leg, returned the lead to Cross.

Shakiness on the doubles then gifted Voltage a further two legs’ advantage, despite a well-timed but ultimately powerless 180 before the break from Damon.

The said interval may have come at an appropriate time for Damon, but it did little to improve his fortunes.

A 116 carried Cross into a 10-6 lead, a deficit which would only grow for The Heat. Suitably subdued, it was a rut he could do little to lift himself out of.

Soon enough, Voltage was 14-6 up and on the precipice of victory. Given tomorrow’s early start, the last thing he wanted was this one dragging late into the night.

The extent of the lead made Cross comfortable enough to take a few risks on checkouts, opting for more unconventional outs. None of it undermined his lead, which would soon enough become unassailable. The last 4 beckons.

“Stephen has been playing really well for a while now,” Cross said to Darts World after the match.

“You can’t underestimate him and he is going to be really strong. If I don’t come out and run at a high level, I’ll go home with my tail between my legs.

But that’s life, I’ll worry about my game and he’ll worry about his, and the best man will come out on top.”


Images: Kieran Cleeves/PDC

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