Auckland Masters finals: Taylor closing in on crown

This inaugural Auckland Darts Masters has been a thrillingly fitting end to the PDC top eight’s Oceanic adventure, with several homegrown heroes running established seeds close.

The quarter-finals produced yet more top quality clashes, with Dutch great Raymond van Barneveld stunning Michael van Gerwen in a closely fought 8-7 victory, and James Wade again getting the upperhand over Peter Wright.

Here, Coral experts run the rule over the fantastic final four and tip their prospects for both the semi-finals and grand finale.

As the curtain comes down, can Phil Taylor make it a perfect three trophy triumphs in a row?

Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Barney and Wade’s head-to-head record is closer than many would expect, though Dutch darting veteran Van Barneveld is still a whisker ahead, with 20 triumphs to his younger peer’s 18.

In the last Masters meeting, in Dubai 2013, between the pair, Barney came out an easy 11-5 victor, but Wade is odds-on at 4/6 to win here after a recent resurgence.

Reaching televised finals in the Perth Masters and World Matchplay suggest The Machine, 4/1 second favourite to take the crown, is edging ever closer to claiming another major title.

Could Auckland’s finale see a repeat of Perth, allowing Wade the chance for a showpiece redemption against The Power?

Bullish Van Barneveld may have something to say about that, having conquered compatriot Michael van Gerwen in two successive Oceanic quarters. So backing the cult hero could prove profitable.

If Barney plays to his best, the experienced arrowsmith, in cracking and confident form, is an excellent 6/5 shout to reach the final stage, and 13/2 to win the lot. This duel should be close, with a 10-8 result in Barney’s favour tempting at 10/1.

Phil Taylor v Adrian Lewis
The Power’s rampant undefeated record in the Oceanic World Series of Darts events is certainly something to be reckoned with.

At 3/10 to beat fellow Englishman Adrian Lewis on the Auckland oche, Taylor has lost just one of his last six scuffles with Jackpot.

Taylor trounced Simon Whitlock in his quarters clash and, in ferocious form this summer, previously dismantled Lewis 11-3 in the Sydney Masters final.

Jackpot is far from easy prey, however, having surged past world champion Gary Anderson to reach this point. At 5/2 to win the match and knock The Power off his perch, Lewis is a decent punt.

Yet, it is tough to see past Taylor (4/6 to claim the title) here. He just knows how to win, and certainly has the measure of his younger opponent, having punished Jackpot on an incredible 49 previous occasions.

So, punters should pounce on odds of 11/2 for Taylor to be King of the Oche (player to win match, most 180s and highest checkout. If any of the markets are tied, bets will be settled as losers.), or simply 11/5 for most maximums.

Betting tip: Back Barney @ 6/5 to beat Wade