Darts: Taylor battles past Anderson to final

"The Power" was operating well below maximum capacity in the PDC World Darts Championship at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, Essex last night, but Phil Taylor was still good enough to earn a chance to win his 12th world title.

"The Power" was operating well below maximum capacity in the PDC World Darts Championship at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet, Essex last night, but Phil Taylor was still good enough to earn a chance to win his 12th world title. Taylor beat Bob Anderson in a curiously low-key semi-final and in tonight's final will face Mark "Flash" Dudbridge, a much more impressive winner over Wayne Mardle.

Although he won 6-2, Taylor's victory was far from straightforward. Maximums never seemed a problem for Anderson, the 1988 world champion, but hitting doubles was.

Anderson got off to a flier, taking the first leg with just 13 darts, but failed to win the set when he missed with seven attempts at a winning double in the deciding leg. Taylor took the second set, but Anderson won the third, despite again needing seven attempts to check out.

Taylor, visibly at odds with himself, changed his darts before the next set, which proved the turning point as he won six legs in succession. His form remained patchy, although seven successive treble 20s in the sixth set put him momentarily on course for a nine-dart finish. Anderson also won another set, reducing the deficit to 5-2 after Taylor missed four attempts at a double in the deciding leg.

Dudbridge, a 31-year-old Bristolian unknown in the darts world until he won the World Masters tournament two years ago, threw 13 maximums in a high-quality 6-4 victory over Mardle, or "Hawaii 501" as he is known. On all six legs that Mardle won against the throw, Dudbridge immediately struck back, hitting his doubles with monotonous regularity.

Mardle never recovered after losing the first two sets in a match halted several times because of the crowd's behaviour. Players have been complaining about distracting calls from the crowd during this year's tournament and Dudbridge frequently had to stand back from the oche as the referee called for order. At a 1,000-capacity venue where they have been selling 11,000 pints of beer a day ­ an average of 11 pints per spectator ­ it is perhaps no surprise that keeping the crowd under control could bea problem.

On Saturday night it was the players who set the crowd a bad example. Taylor's quarter-final victory over Kevin Painter was a bad-tempered affair and officials had to separate the pair at the end of the match. The heated exchange continued backstage before Painter stormed out of the building.

The British Darts Organisation, whose rival event is being held in Surrey this week, quickly took advantage of the incident, issuing a statement "to disassociate itself with the unseemly and unsporting behaviour" of Taylor and Painter. A BDO spokesman, tongue apparently not in cheek, said: "Thankfully the current BDO World Professional Darts Championship ... is reflecting all the positive aspects of our sport."

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