Wright blocks Cullen's path on superb night of darts

By Paul Woodage 22/07/2021

Peter Wright produced a breathtaking performance, averaging over 105, to illuminate the Blackpool crowd as round two of the Betfred World Matchplay came to a conclusion.


The Scot has seemed to have flown under the radar in the build-up to this tournament but signalled his intent in fantastic fashion with a hugely impressive display to end Joe Cullen’s dream of a maiden PDC major.


The Rockstar will be disappointed with how the game went. He seemed to struggle to get going and with Wright coming out of the blocks strongly, was always on the back foot.


In the end, it was all pretty routine for Snakebite who was registered the highest average in the tournament today and moves into the Matchplay quarter-finals for the sixth time in the last seven years.


In the night’s opening match, much-fancied José de Sousa ran out of steam against a strong finishing Michael Smith.


On more than one occasion, Bullyboy showed enormous character taking out crucial finishes at the right time under massive pressure. 


It was a tense curtain-raiser which produced the first tie-breaker of this year’s Matchplay. At 12-11, De Sousa spurned a match dart and Smith took full advantage, seizing his opportunity to gain the initiative and progress to the quarter-final and a date with Snakebite.


Once again, all eyes were on Michael van Gerwen to see what version of the Green Machine would show up.


On his day, Ian White can be a very dangerous opponent and has proved in multiple floor tournaments and European events that he can win titles. However, on the big stage in the huge majors he is yet to find that magic formula and at 5-5 began to stutter.


Van Gerwen has the ability to make a ton average looked ordinary and that is exactly what he did in this match. Without seeming to hit the turbo, he got in front of White and looked in total control for the latter part of the match, eventually taking the contest with a magnificent 121 finish on the bull.


Nathan Aspinall is through to his first World Matchplay quarter-final after a Winter Gardens classic against Gary Anderson.


Prior to this year, Aspinall was yet to win a match at this tournament, enduring first round exits in his previous two appearances.


The crowd were still recovering from the exciting opener between De Sousa and Smith before they were treated to another nerve-racking ending.


It was a match that swung in both directions and looked certain to go into overtime. But with six breaks of throw to end the contest, it was Aspinall that edged in front and took out 96 with two darts to eventually win 11-9.


The Asp now faces another former World Champion in Michael van Gerwen when he returns to the Winter Gardens tomorrow.


Wednesday 21st July

Second Round (Best of 21 legs)


Michael Smith 13-11 José de Sousa

Gary Anderson 9-11 Nathan Aspinall

Michael van Gerwen 11-8 Ian White

Peter Wright 11-5 Joe Cullen



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