World Cup of Darts 2nd round: Gibraltar rock, Wales shocked
After some thrilling matches on the opening two nights of the 2015 World Cup of Darts, now the nations return to the oche in Frankfurt, Germany, for the second round.
On day one, all eight seeds came through their encounters; however, in contrast, the crowd were treated to three upsets in the first three clashes on Friday, with Wales going out.
The second round will change format, as there will be two singles matches (best of seven) and, if needed, a doubles decider.
Here is Coral’s preview of the action on Saturday, where the winners will meet in the quarters…
Belgium v Spain
Spain (2/1) opened the tournament against Norway, easily dispatching of them 5-0, but now face a much tougher task against 2013 finalists Kim and Ronny Huybrechts of Belgium (4/11), who beat the Philippines 5-1 in round one.
With Cristo Reyes, new to the World Cup, though, a shock is possible for the Spanish, who have caused upsets before, especially if the Tenerife thrower wins his singles match. Belgium, however, are 16/1 title shouts.
Australia v Gibraltar
Gibraltar were on the lips of the crowd in Frankfurt for their opener against Italy, and even after their 5-2 success, as their passion and underdog status as a nation won many hearts.
The tiny British territory (11/2) made it fifth time lucky at finals as they finally managed a World Cup victory, but their progress is likely to be stopped by heavily-fancied Australia pair Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson (1/10).
— Sky Sports Darts (@SkySportsDarts) June 12, 2015
Northern Ireland v New Zealand
Tournament dark horses Northern Ireland (33/1 title chances) knocked out Thailand, but the match could have gone either way as both nation missed a total of 11 darts in the crucial sixth leg, before Brendon Dolan finally finished it off.
New Zealand managed to upset a John Part-led Canada to get to this stage, but will be up against it against the British nation, who reached the semis last year.
Hong Kong v Republic of Ireland
Asian nation Hong Kong caused the shock of the round by far, as they saw off former finalists Wales, who could not match their football compatriots that recorded a famous 1-0 win over Belgium in a Euro 2016 qualifier on the same night, with a brilliant 5-3 triumph.
Brazilian-born, half-Scot/half-Japanese Scott MacKenzie, who was brought up in England, made a couple of crucial finishes, although threatened to derail his team’s chances after an inexplicable error in the seventh leg, but they held on. Ireland are up next, and should win after avoiding the fourth successive upset of the night as they thrashed Poland 5-0.
Scotland v Hungary
Eastern Europe nation Hungary inflicted the second seed-killing of the night, after dumping out Sweden 5-2 in the first round.
Scotland (11/4 title chances), meanwhile, had trouble hitting doubles throughout their game with Singapore, led by veteran Paul Lim, but still came out 5-1 victors. Premier League Darts and World Championship winner Gary Anderson and Peter Wright should face no problems against Hungary.
Netherlands v South Africa
Many people’s favourites Netherlands (7/4 to defend their title) in decent fashion after coming through a potentially tricky tie against the USA, featuring former World Matchplay champion Larry Butler.
South Africa, meanwhile, walked onto the stage in style against Finland, with Devon Petersen showing some moves, but their match style was in contrast to that as they ground out a narrow 5-4 win. They pose a threat to Barney and Mighty Mike, but will come up short.
England v Japan
Top seeds England (1/20) and Japan (15/2) made light work of their respective fixtures with Norway and China, both beating them 5-0, but former world champions and double World Cup winners Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis will have too much talent for their Asian opponents.
The Power and Jackpot will be keen to reclaim the title back from the Netherlands, and are favourites to lift the trophy for an unprecedented third time at 7/4.
Austria v Germany
The big battle of the night in terms of similar ability and rivalry, Germany (even-money chances for victory) face geographical neighbours Austria (8/11 slight favourites), with both teams boasting two future darting stars in Max Hopp and Rowby-John Rodriguez respectively.
Both nations gained convincing wins in the first round, although the hosts were more dominant in their clash with India, as they whitewashed them 5-0. The experience of Mensur Suljovic for Austria should be enough to see them edge to the quarters, though.