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World Matchplay Darts: Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson put down early marker at Winter Gardens in Blackpool

Wins for Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson on opening night in Blackpool I we're back for more World Matchplay on Sunday for a double session at the iconic Winter Gardens as 32 of the world's top stars battle it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy - live on Sky Sports Action

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Take a look at what happened on opening night of the World Matchplay in Blackpool

Gerwyn Price began his quest for a first World Matchplay title with a resounding win against Stephen Bunting, while Gary Anderson won a scrappy encounter on opening night at the iconic Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

Last year's runner-up Price began his campaign is style with victory against Stephen Bunting, while Anderson, the winner in 2018 and runner-up in 2020, defeated Dave Chisnall to set up a last 16 showdown against Daryl Gurney.

The Northern Irishman dumped out 2019 champion Rob Cross, winning a tie-break thriller, as Joe Cullen was made to work hard for his win by dogged Belgian debutant Mike De Decker.

World Matchplay First Round: Saturday, July 15

Joe Cullen 10-7 Mike De Decker
Rob Cross 10-12 Daryl Gurney
Gerwyn Price 10-3 Stephen Bunting
Dave Chisnall 6-10 Gary Anderson

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Gerwyn Price was frustrated by a slow start as he overcame Stephen Bunting in the opening round of the World Matchplay

Nine-dart King Price teased another one but had to go out in 11, as he entered the first mini-break of his match against former quarter-finalist Bunting leading 3-2.

Bunting quickly levelled but then The Iceman turned on the afterburners to win 10 of the last 11 legs and romp to a commanding 10-3 victory.

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Price took out this ton in style during his emphatic win over Bunting

The Welshman, runner-up to Michael van Gerwen in last year's competition, said on Sky Sports: "I was 2-0 down, could have been 3-0 down - it was a slow start. I didn't play brilliant, but I did what I had to do.

"I was up and down. It was just first-round jitters. Getting through the first round is always tough, but I'll be better next round.

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"It's one of the tournaments I haven't won, so you try a little bit too hard sometimes, especially in finals. But I've plenty more years left in this game so if it's not this year, it will be sometime soon hopefully, and fingers crossed it is this year."

"It was a professional job and once he started pulling away you can see Stephen get a bit frustrated. He knew he was going to find it hard to get back in the match but job done and he'll have to play better if he's going to go on and lift the title this year. Minimum fuss."
Mark Webster on Gerwyn Price

The clash between former champion Anderson and five-time quarter-finalist Chisnall had the hallmarks of a Winter Gardens classic.

From 2-0 down, 12th seed Chisnall reeled off three legs in a row to move ahead with a low 91.8 average but The Flying Scotsman stayed in touch and he then rattled off five legs on the bounce to leave Chizzy feeling dizzy as he moved 7-3 up with a dominant display.

The St Helens thrower closed the gap by winning the next two legs after the break, but Anderson responded with a majestic 115 checkout to edge closer to the winning line.

Anderson, 52, soon booked his place in the second round courtesy of a 10-6 victory over a below-par Chisnall.

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Anderson says he still has things to work on after he beat Dave Chisnall

Bradford arrowsmith Cullen, a quarter-finalist in 2018, set up a mouth-watering second-round meeting with Price after edging past 46th-ranked Belgian De Decker 10-7.

The Rockstar, who captured The Masters title and fell narrowly short in the Premier League final last year, coasted into a 4-1 lead with finishes of 143 and 84 but The Real Deal reduced the deficit thanks to a sensational 164 to trail 4-3.

Cullen responded by reeling off three straight legs as he upped his average to over a ton and he nailed a brilliant 126 on the bullseye to extend his lead to 8-3.

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Mike De Decker hit this fabulous checkout during his first round defeat against Joe Cullen

However, De Decker clawed his way back into the contest by winning three legs on the spin to trail 8-6 before the pair traded the next two legs.

With De Decker threatening the most unlikely of fightbacks, The Rockstar staggered over the line to defeat the dogged debutant.

Daryl Gurney at the World Matchplay
Image: Daryl Gurney dumped out 2019 champion Rob Cross, winning a tie-break thriller at the Winter Gardens

In a repeat of their 2019 semi-final classic a resurgent Gurney defeated former champion Cross 12-10 in a thriller.

A focused Gurney made a statement start as consecutive finishes of 110 and 111 catapulted him into a 4-0 lead, before Cross opened his account on double nine.

SuperChin pinned a last dart double eight to break throw for a 6-3 lead but the Northern Irishman was pegged back with Voltage finding some momentum.

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Rob Cross hit this monster 170 finish in an epic clash against Daryl Gurney

The 32-year-old former World Champion then reeled in the first Big Fish of the tournament to break throw for 7-7 and at 9-8 with Gurney throwing for the match, Cross produced a 13-darter on double 16 to force a tie-break situation.

Gurney avenged his heart-breaking defeat from five years ago with a remarkable 96 checkout before cleaning up 59 in two darts to make it through.

World Matchplay First Round: Sunday, July 16

Afternoon Session Danny Noppert vs Martin Schindler
Dirk van Duijvenbode vs Kim Huybrechts
Damon Heta vs Josh Rock
James Wade vs Chris Dobey
Evening Session Nathan Aspinall vs Krzysztof Ratajski
Luke Humphries vs Jose de Sousa
Michael van Gerwen vs Brendan Dolan
Michael Smith vs Steve Beaton

Sunday's bumper double session will see former champions Michael van Gerwen and James Wade open their title challenges, with 2007 winner Wade up against Masters champion Chris Dobey in the afternoon.

Van Gerwen's clash against Brendan Dolan will be followed by Michael Smith's showdown against Steve Beaton, the 59-year-old who is featuring in his 22nd World Matchplay.

Dutch duo Danny Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode begin their campaigns with ties against Martin Schindler and Kim Huybrechts, while World Youth Champion Josh Rock will make his highly-anticipated debut against Australian No 1 Damon Heta.

Elsewhere, Nathan Aspinall opens Sunday night's action against 2021 semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski, while world No 6 Luke Humphries faces former Grand Slam champion Jose de Sousa.

We're back for more World Matchplay action at the iconic Winter Gardens on Sunday from 1pm as 32 of the world's top stars battle it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy - live on Sky Sports Action.

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