sport

England retain World Cup title

Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis helped England retain the World Cup of Darts title with a 3-1 defeat over Belgium in Hamburg on Sunday night.

The duo repeated their success in the 24-nation event of 12 months ago despite flirting with disaster, as South Africa and Wales missed darts to knock them out and Japan pushed them all the way.

The Huybrechts brothers, Kim and Ronny, had won through to the final in an emotional tribute to their father Ludo, who passed away suddenly in December, but were unable to take the 40,000 title as Taylor and Lewis found top form.

With Kim Huybrechts having missed double 12 for a nine-darter in their semi-final win over Finland, Lewis matched that by wiring the same double in his victory over Ronny Huybrechts, as he averaged 105.75 in his best performance of the weekend.

Taylor, meanwhile, droppedonly one leg as he defeated both brothers to mean that Kim's superb 4-0 whitewash of Lewis in their tie came in vain as the English duo retained their crown.

Taylor said: "It's been a tough weekend and we scraped through a couple of games but the difference was that the people who had chances against us didn't take them and we did.

"The Belgians were great this weekend and Kim, in particular, was superb. To come through such a strong field is a great achievement, and when the seeds fell like flies on Saturday we were worried that we'd be one of them!

"We've worked really hard and it's special for us to retain the title. We love representing England and hopefully we can make it three in a row next year."

Lewis added: "It was great to play so well in the final.

"I felt like I'd maybe let Phil down a little bit in some of the games earlier in the tournament and it got worse for me the harder I tried.

"But in the final I was close to the nine-darter and hit a 105 average against Kim so it was nice, but winning the title was the main aim and we've managed to do that."

The Belgians had shared tears on stage after winning through to the final, and revealed their pride in reaching the decider after claiming 10,000 apiece as runners-up.

"It's amazing for us to have reached the final," said Kim, who lost out to Taylor in the final of the Players Championship Finals in December. "

"When the teams were announced we said to each other that we wanted to reach the final, but obviously we knew it would hard because there are so many good players.

"Phil's got another win against me so hopefully the third time will be my turn! Phil's the best player in the world and to beat him you have to do something special.

"I've only had one full year on the PDC circuit and it's Ronny's first TV tournament, so I believe we can do something magical."

Wales, the 2010 runners-up, were left to ponder a second successive semi-final defeat after Richie Burnett missed a dart at double ten for a 140 finish that would have put him and Mark Webster into the final.

"We always do ourselves justice in this tournament and we're pleased to have reached another semi-final, and but for the width of a wire we could have been in the final," admitted Webster.

"We can build on this and hopefully do better next year because we're a good team. Adrian and Phil have won 18 World Championships between them and they put us under pressure at the right time, but I'm really proud of the pair of us."

Surprise package Finland, represented by newcomer Jani Haavisto and Jarkko Komula, last year's Scandinavian Order of Merit winner, followed up their stunning second round win over Holland and their defeat of host nation Germany by pushing Belgium all the way in the semis.