Power surges past Thornton
Phil Taylor overcame a determined early challenge from Robert Thornton to win in the final of the coral.co.uk Players Championship.
Last Updated: 01/02/09 11:18pm
Phil Taylor overcame a determined early challenge from Robert Thornton to secure a 16-9 win in the final of the coral.co.uk Players Championship.
The 14-time world champion was not at his best during Sunday's showdown at Purfleet's Circus Tavern, but still proved too strong for his Scottish opponent as he completed a clean sweep of the major televised events.
Thornton, who beat James Wade in Saturday's semi-finals, matched his illustrious rival early on and was level at 6-6, but Taylor stepped up a gear to pull clear and ultimately won with something to spare.
Thornton had looked in danger of being blown away as Taylor stormed into a 2-0 lead, landing double-four and then double-16 to take the second leg against the darts.
But the Scot recovered well and, having just failed to take out 117, found double-ten to get on the board.
He looked to have blown his chance of squaring the contest at 2-2 as he missed three darts at double-16 in the next, but Taylor uncharacteristically did likewise at double-nine to gift Thornton a second chance he took.
Both men lacked precision on the doubles, but Thornton showed admirable character to stay with his opponent as the next eight legs remained on darts.
But having edged 7-6 ahead, Taylor made a decisive move as he found double-16 to move 8-6 up before taking out 57 to open a three-leg advantage.
Thornton narrowly failed with a 160 check-out in the next and Taylor pounced to maintain his momentum and even though he missed five darts at a double in the next he was far enough ahead for it not to make any difference as he found double-five to ease into a commanding 11-6 lead.
Thornton stopped the rot in the next and reduced the deficit to just three as he hit tops to make the score 11-8, but any hopes of a fight-back were quickly crushed by Taylor who took the next two legs to move within three of victory.
Thornton responded as he closed to 13-9 but Taylor claimed consecutive legs to put himself on the brink and closed out the match in some style with an 11-dart finish to add yet another title to his stellar CV.
Afterwards, Taylor stated: "I'm absolutely delighted to have won. Coming back to the Circus Tavern and taking the win is special to me, and it means a lot to be the first name on the trophy.
"Robert played really well and he's impressed me. When I arrived in Essex on Thursday he was already at the hotel practising, and it didn't surprise me that he reached the final.
"He's dedicated and he's a gutsy battler who will go a long way."
For his part, Thornton added: "I'm not too disappointed. It was close for the first half of the match. I gave him a bit of a start and you can't do that against Phil, you cannot afford slack darts against him."