Hard act to follow, Wes

World Matchplay Darts at Blackpool Winter Gardens
World Matchplay Darts at Blackpool Winter Gardens

WES Newton will be roared on to the Winter Gardens stage tonight as he bids to halt a run of four successive first-round exits in the Blackpool darts showpiece.

But already some of the Fleetwood favourite’s rivals have set sky-high standards after the opening weekend of the Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay

John Part hit a nine-dart finish on the opening night, which also saw a classic contest between Professional Darts Corporation world champion Adrian Lewis and Kevin Painter.

Canadian Part, a three-time world champion, became only the third player to achieve a nine-darter in the 18-year history of the World Matchplay, following defending champion Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld.

However, it couldn’t spare Part from a 10-8 first-round exit against Mark Webster, though the nine-darter did help him recover from 7-1 down to 8-7 before the Welshman held his nerve to win.

Part’s first ever nine-darter leaves him in line for £10,000 bonus, which he will have all to himself unless another player matches his feat in the remaining seven nights of the tournament.

Webster’s second-round opponent on Wednesday will be Steve Beaton, who produced his best-ever World Matchplay performance to dump two-time runner-up Terry Jenkins out 10-3 in the opening match.

World champion Lewis produced a thrilling fightback for an epic 14-12 victory over Painter, who missed three doubles for a 10-6 triumph.

With players needing to win by two legs, Painter squandered three more chances for 12-10 before Lewis, who hit 12 maximums, finally edged through.

Last night, world No.3 James Wade made a stunning start to his bid for a third World Matchplay title with a whitewash of Jamie Caven.

Van Barneveld shrugged off the loss of his darts to move into the last 16 with a 10-3 win over Steve Brown.

The Dutchman arrived in Blackpool without his darts and needed a new set to be delivered hours before going on stage.

“It’s your worst nightmare!” admitted van Barneveld. “I practised on Friday and I think I forgot to put my darts in my suitcase when I got home.” His next opponent will be Paul Nicholson, who ousted Colin Osborne 12-10.

Newton is last up tonight at 10pm against Andy Smith, another Englishman seeking his first Blackpool win. Immediately before them, Phil Taylor starts his quest for a 12th Matchplay title against Mark Hylton.

Newton or Smith will next face the winner of another of tonight’s clashes – Mervyn King v Justin Pipe.