It was Poland versus Lithuania and whoever won out of Krzysztof Ratajski or Darius Labanauskas would make history becoming the first Eastern European to reach the Lakeside men’s quarter finals. And away we go !!!!!! A 100 from Ratajski started the match before he added another with his next throw. Both were unable to really get going but Labanauskas had a chance at 60 that he made on double 10 to instantly break the throw. Labanauskas got the next leg off with a 140 as Ratajski made a close as possible 139 to keep in check but a poor 41 and 60 gave Labanauskas a perfect chance to move two up needing just 20 with Ratajski not on a finish; he missed and was incredibly beaten after wasting nine darts for a two leg lead. Labanauskas was first to an out in the third leg, leaving 164 then 32 with Ratajski a long way back; 2-1 to Labanauskas on the third dart and it was now his chance to throw for the set. A superb 130 finish from Labanauskas gave him the set in the very next leg.
Labanauskas was first to a finish again in the opening leg of the second set and he took out a superb 114 finish on tops. He added a 180 in the next leg, surprisingly only his third of the whole tournament and was a whisker a way from making a147, clipping the wire on the double 18. He didn’t have to wait long for the second leg though as Labanauskas made it with his very next dart. Labanauskas raced clear again in the next leg leaving 88 with Ratajski not on a finish; Labanauskas took the set no problem to move 2-0 up.
An unsightly 43 from Ratajski was instantly punished by Labanauskas but Ratajski put in a 180 maximum to keep him in front in the first leg. A 140 gave Labanauskas a chance at 130 but fell short giving Ratajski a go at 79 that he finished with aplomb on double 11 to open the scoring in set three. Another 140 from Labanauskas was matched by Ratajski but Lad pulled away with a 133 to give him a shot at 84. Labanauskas stepped up but unlike Ratajski in the previous set he missed double 11 to take the leg; and just like the last leg Ratajski polished off double 11 to move 2-0 up. Labanauskas took the next leg against the darts when it looked unlikely with Ratajski needing 36 that he messed with all three darts allowing Labanauskas to finish off on tops. Labanauskas levelled the third set when he clattered in double 8 with Ratajski nowhere to be seen. A maximum 180 from Ratajski in the decider put him well clear but he then suffered from a bounce out to give Labanauskas a chance. He could do nothing of any note and Ratajski made the 48 he had left on double 16.
A good 136 from Labanauskas and a 128 but him in control of the first leg in set four. He set up a 13 dart leg on tops to go one nil to the good. The second leg was evenly balanced until a slip of 25 from Ratajski was destroyed with a 171 from Labanauskas giving him a shout at 132 that he brought the house down with; bull, bull and double 16. Brilliant and 2-0 up. Throwing for the set Labanauskas opened up a huge lead, requiring 112 for the set but a careless throw let in Ratajski who just wired the treble in his combination throw to let Labanauskas return to throw for the set. Labanauskas stepped up and doubled 18 to take the set 3-0 and put him 3-1 up in sets.
Needing just one set for the match Labanauskas had to break Ratajski to win through at the earliest possible occasion as we got set five under away. Ratajski was first to an outshot leaving 158 but could only muster 58 giving Labanauskas a slight chance at 156. Labanauskas managed 100 but returned to nail 56 and break the throw straight away after Ratajski couldn’t see off 100, missing the double. In leg two Labanauskas made a superb 180 to leave tops for a two nil advantage, he failed with his first three darts but made certain with a tops finish. Ratajski was now throwing to stay in the contest and he showed some determination to open up a gap and leave 128 that he soon left on 32 for the leg. Ratajski was having no luck hitting the wrong double allowing Labanauskas back in but this time it was his turn to falter when it mattered. Ratajski collected his thoughts, took the leg and stayed alive in the tournament. Nerves seemed to be creeping in to the fourth leg as big scores were at a premium as Ratajski bundled his way to a 112 attempt but missed to leave 32. Labanauskas could do little to stop him and Ratajski broke on double 16 to level the set at 2-2. It was now an important leg for Ratajski, win to stay in, lose and you’re out. Ratajski had the darts and a mid set leg 180 set him up for a 43 chance to win the set. He fluffed his lines but was so far ahead knew he’d return and he did just that to take us into a sixth set.
It was now up to Labanauskas to simply hold his throw for the match, often easier said than done and he was broken in the opening leg. Ratajski was now in charge of the set and was starting to look the more relaxed leaving just 94 to move 2-0 up; he just missed the double 8 and a stunning 120 checkout rocked the Pole as Labanauskas produced shanghai on 20 to level and importantly break straight back. Ratajski took the darts back in leg three with another break of throw taking out 32 on double 16 after Labanauskas had missed at 96. A terrible 41 from Ratajski started proceedings in the fourth leg but it was met with impunity by Labanauskas who struggled to get any rhythm in the leg and was duly beaten by a 74 check out by Ratajski on double 12 to set up a deciding set.
It was now a test of nerves as the final set got away. Labanauskas opened the scoring to take the first leg of the decider on tops and break the Ratajski throw. The second leg saw a 140 from Ratajski to leave a 167 that he missed on bull, slipping into the outer 25 area. He was to return but managed to pull the double giving Labanauskas a chance at 86. Labanauskas made no errors and went 2-0 up in the final set. Labanauskas had match darts for 160 as Ratajski had left a bogey number but he could only leave 100. Ratajski missed darts at double 8 to save the match. Labanauskas stepped in to treble twenty and pick off tops for the bout, 4-3 in sets.
The final match of the night paired two Dutchmen Richard Veenstra against Danny Noppert. Noppert seeded 3 was the bookies favourite and he took the opening leg on double 10. A decent 137 from Veenstra helped him on the way to leaving 97 that he just missed on double 10; he had a second chance but missed that also; Noppert broke with a double 9 to go 2-0 up. A 140 from Noppert was undone by Veenstra but he missed three darts from 40 for the leg; Noppert caned the bull to take the set 3-0.
Veenstra looking like a young Dirk Kuyt was trying to fight to stop the leg running away from him but with a missed dart at tops Noppert stepped in to take out double 1 for the opener of set two. Noppert pulled away again in the second leg with a series of ton plus scores to leave double top for two nil. Two nil it was first dart. Noppert was in control after five legs on the run; he added another 140 and his first maximum 180 to demoralise Veenstra who looked on as Noppert nailed tops for a simple 47 out to collect the second set 3-0 as we headed for the break.
Veenstra needed to pull something out of the bag or his Lakeside would be over for another year. He managed to break his duck at the start of the third set and he fired in a 180 in the next to give him first shout at a finish, needing 82. Veenstra made it two nil on tops and now looked like a different player. The third leg was held on throw by Noppert making 60 on double 10 to save the set. Veestra slipped up with double figure scores as Noppert powered away to leave 94 to level it up. Noppert missed with an unfortunate bounce out; Veenstra smelled blood but dragged his double wide with his last dart. Noppert returned for 72 and took it in style. In the decider Noppert had six darts from 24 as he battered the treble twenty to steal a march on Veenstra. After three darts Noppert left 6 and took the set two darts later, with Veenstra looking dejected after wasting a huge chance,
Veenstra got the fourth set off and had a chance at the maximum 170 outshot. He managed to leave 112 whilst Noppert pressured to leave 81 that he majestically blasted home on the bulls eye to pile more agony Veenstra. It was not Veenstra’s day as he missed a single 12 so that he couldn’t finish in the next leg. Noppert buried 25 on double 8 to make it two nil and then produced a fairy tale ending in the third and final leg of the set pinging in a 164 on the bull to seal a quick fire and extremely impressive victory. 4-0 Noppert.