After 18 rounds of quality darts thrown during the minor season, we move into week one of finals for the Seymour District Darts Association summer competition, with a top four that has the potential to produce the best final series yet.
First up we had the top two teams, the Golf Club Aces and Broadford Vikings, play off in a qualifying final — with the winner going straight through to the grand final on July 16.
The loser will have a second chance at making the big dance by taking on the winner of the semi-final between The Lions and the POW 26ers.
The qualifying final was held at the Royal Hotel in what turned into an incredible night of darts, with 45 tons being thrown between the two teams, including three triple figure pegs.
With the finals format being a best of 11 games, winning the three teams games at the start of the night is crucial.
With that in mind, the high scores were flowing from the beginning, with the Aces’ Frank Roberts and Dan Raynor nailing a ton each in the quads game. But it wasn’t all one-way traffic with the Vikings’ Mark Robinson returning fire with a 121.
The pressure of the occasion caused nerves to shine through, with players from both teams struggling to nail the peg.
But it was the Aces’ Dave Ring who managed to snare a double one finish to get the home team on the board, leading 1-0.
The doubles match-ups saw the Aces’ Frank Roberts and Dave Ring pair up against the Vikings’ Mark Robinson and Jack Stephens in the first game and Dan Raynor team up with Emily Wills against Mark Jones and Peter Myles in a juicy match-up for the second doubles game.
Frank Roberts started strongly again landing a ton straight off the mark to get the Aces off to a good start, but Jack Stephens brought it back to square after slamming in 123, giving his team mate Mark Robinson first crack at a check out, which he promptly did with a peg of 46 bringing the scores back to 1-1.
The second doubles game was dominated by the Aces with Emily Wills throwing a ton as well as her second 180 this year — well done Emily.
Peter Myles tried hard to get back into the game by throwing 140, but Dan Raynor pulled out a terrific high peg of 90 to get the Aces’ nose back in front, 2-1.
First singles match-up of the night had Emily Wills (confidence running high after a cracking doubles match) go toe-to-toe with the newest Viking in Mark Robinson and boy oh boy what a match.
Both players found the treble at ease with Emily throwing three tons and 124 but it still wasn’t enough to get the job done as Robbo pounded in three tons, 140 and a high peg of 124 to bring the scores level once more.
Aces star Dan Raynor toed the line next, going up against finals debutant Jack Stephens who received a baptism of fire as Dan opened up with a ton, 135 and 140, winning the best of three games 2-1 that edged the Aces in front, 3-2.
Frank Roberts stepped up to the oche against Peter Myles in the third singles match of the night.
Frank snared a ton, but Peter scored two of his own and took the game 2-0 with a high peg of 60 to lock the scores at 3-3.
The Aces’ Dave Ring was next up, playing off against Mark ‘‘Fuzz’’ Ruddick in Fuzz’s first game of the night.
Dave set the tone of the game early with an incredible high peg of 136 to go with a ton, but despite his peg, Fuzz smashed in a ton of his own and took the game 2-1 to put the Vikings in front for the first time for the night.
With the score line sitting at 4-3 in the Vikings’ favour with only four singles games left to decide the result, the match was really heating up, with every win crucial.
The first game of the reverse singles pitted Emily Wills against Peter Myles.
Emily started like a house on fire, lobbing in a ton and 140 as well as another cracking peg of 105.
It was looking like she had it in the bag but then, Peter smashed in three tons and pegged quickly to snatch the win, giving the Vikings the biggest lead of the night — just one win away from a grand final berth.
But for that to happen, Vikings captain Mark Jones had to first get through Dan Raynor.
But despite Jonesy throwing two tons and a 121, Dan proved too strong on the night, winning the game 2-1 after throwing three tons and a 125 to keep the Aces in touch 5-4.
Frank took on Robbo in the next game, and opened up with a ton and a 140 to win the first leg easily, but he was never going to have it all his own way as Robbo went into beast mode, throwing two tons, 123 and two 140s to snatch the final two legs and deliver the Vikings to their maiden grand final appearance with a 6-4 victory.
The Aces will now line up against the winner of the Lions and the POW 26ers final which was under way at the Railway Hotel.
The 26ers won the toss to get their night off to a good start.
Both teams threw some nervous darts to start the quads game, until Lions captain Liz Henzell broke the drought with a 101, which opened the flood gates as the 26ers’ Torin Helmore nailed 125 and 115 and young gun Ayden Ballantyne speared in a ton and 121.
Gary Power threw 140 to keep in touch, before nailing double tops to get the first ‘‘W’’ on the score sheet.
The Lions’ first doubles game saw Gary Power and Rick Wylie team up to go head-to-head with Torin and Ayden, who both continued to produce the same high scores as in the quads game, Torin hitting a 121 and Ayden a ton.
All the players involved had the chance to ice the game, but it was Torin with a peg of 8 that brought the scores back to level.
Next up Adam Lynch and Raymond Maloney locked horns with Shannon Jackson and Ben MacPherson.
With both sides struggling to hit the treble, the scores slowly dwindled until Ray Maloney hit a double one to put The Lions in front at the end of the teams games, a great start for the home team.
The Lions put forward Rob Walden for the first singles match against the 26ers’ Mitch McGuinness.
Rob took control of the match early, slamming in two 140s to win the game easily, as nerves got the better of his opponent, giving the Lions a 3-1 lead.
The next singles match saw Gary Power line up against Steve Ash, which on paper was an enticing match up as both players had scored heavily throughout the season. Yet they both struggled to land any big scores in the first leg, until Steve eventually scored a single ton and took the first leg with a double top finish.
It all went south for the 26ers captain after that as Gary found his groove and dominated the oche with two tons, 121, two 125s to go with a high peg of 96 that stretched the lead to 4-1.
With things looking dire for the 26ers, the Lions’ Ray Maloney toed the line against young-gun Torin Helmore, in another heavy weight match-up.
As had been the trend in the singles matches, both players struggled to hit a triple figure score, but eventually Ray managed 125 to snag the first leg, but Torin had the last laugh by winning the next two legs to bring the score line back to 4-2.
Next match-up, the Lions put forward Rick Wylie to do battle with Shannon Jackson, Rick got the upper hand early with high scores of 100 and 134, then continued to turn the screws on the opposition by winning the game with high pegs of 54 and 56 to put the Lions one win away from a preliminary final against the Aces.
With the final nails being hammered into the coffin of the 26ers season, they needed someone to stand up and rescue their faltering finals campaign.
The first of the reverse singles games pitted Rob Walden against Torin Helmore in a cracking match-up, with both players renowned for high scores and high finishes.
Rob was on the board early, smashing in 140 but Torin returned fire with three tons, 118, 125 plus a high peg of 78 to dominate the match, winning the match-up to keep the dream alive for the underdogs.
The Lions’ Gary Power was the next in line and he squared up against the 26ers’ youngest player, Ayden Ballantyne.
Ayden opened the game with a ton, a promising start that gave his team some hope of a fairytale come back.
But like most fairytales, there is always a villain and on this occasion it was Gary Power, who scored just a single ton but had high finishes of 60 and a two-dart peg of 95 that closed the curtain on the POW 26ers season, delivering a 6-3 win for the Lions.
The Lions now advance through to the preliminary final against the Golf Club Aces, which looms as another massive game that should provide plenty of highlights for interested onlookers.
A massive thanks to the host teams and helpers on the night for running the evening. Also, a big thanks to the Royal Hotel and the Railway Hotel.
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