Taylor shrugs off Dudbridge to clinch title

PHIL TAYLOR shrugged off a determined challenge from young pretender Mark Dudbridge to capture his 12th world title at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet last night.

‘The Power’ produced a typical surge to win three consecutive sets and ultimately run out a 7-4 winner in the final of the Ladbrokes.com-sponsored event after being given plenty of problems by the rapidly emerging Bristol star.

Before the match, 44-year-old Taylor had complained of tiredness and although he had not been tested in any of his four previous outings in the tournament, a row with quarter-final opponent Kevin Painter after his 5-1 success had affected his frame of mind.

When the first six sets last night were shared it looked like Taylor was vulnerable to the player nicknamed ‘Flash’, who had ousted former champion John Part and Wayne Mardle on his path to the final.

Dudbridge kept banging in maximum scores of 180 to pressurise the title-holder, ending the final with 14 in all, but at 3-3 Taylor moved through the gears as he sensed an upset in the making.

Taylor’s finishing had been slightly off key in the opening exchanges but as the 31-year-old former World Masters champion began to fade, with not enough of his 180s coming at crucial times, the Stoke professional found his deadly accuracy on the doubles.

A 128 checkout made it 5-3 and at the end of a ninth set of the highest quality, when Dudbridge appeared poised to reduce his arrears, Taylor clicked out on 84 with an 11-dart leg to put himself on the brink of victory, leaping up and down as though the trophy was already his.

He had to wait one set longer than he would have wished as Dudbridge, playing much better than when beaten 18-8 in legs by Taylor in the World Matchplay final last July, bravely kept his hopes alive.

But it was merely delaying the inevitable as Taylor wrapped it up at the first opportunity, checking out on 101 with his first match dart at double 16 to secure the £60,000 winner’s cheque.

Meanwhile, the army of Dutch fans who descended on the World Professional Darts Championships at Lakeside will have gone home more then happy with the performance of Raymond van Barneveld.

Three-times champion van Barneveld marched into the quarter-finals with another 3-0 victory.

One man who could stop van Berneveld is third seed Mervyn King who booked a place in the second round with a 3-0 win over plucky Welshman Wayne Warren.

Another Dutchman, Andre Brantjes, booked a second round meeting with King after edging an all-Dutch thriller 3-2 against Co Stompe.

Finnish debutant Marko Kantele produced one of the upsets of the first round to knock out sixth seed Tony “Silverback” O’Shea 3-1.

O’Shea was hampered by the left shoulder he dislocated over Christmas, and Kantele took full advantage.

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