Taylor shines in Blackpool

Phil Taylor began the defence of his World Matchplay title in impressive fashion as Raymond van Barneveld comfortably came out on top in an all-Dutch battle in Blackpool.

With his new darts finding the target in impressive fashion, Taylor managed to record a 101.79 three-dart average as he recorded a 10-3 win over former practice partner Darren Webster.

'The Demolition Man' took the first leg against the throw and then needed only 12 darts to make it 2-2, though his hopes of an upset were quickly reduced to rubble.

Taylor took the next five legs on the spin to open up a comfortable cushion and hit a superb bull, bull, double 16 out-shot to wipe out 132 and move to the brink of victory.

"It was a good game. That's the best I've played all year, to be quite honest with you," 'The Power' told Sky Sports afterwards.

"He was gutsy, he's got a lot of bottle has Darren. He just doesn't give up. I used to practice with him years ago and he's a brilliant little player."

With Michael Smith having seen off Justin Pipe 10-8 in the opening match in the evening session, Taylor will next meet the man who knocked him out of the last World Darts Championship.

"It's going to be a cracker. On Wednesday we are in for a treat - I'm going to give Michael a game now," he added. "I want to have a good fight with him and let us see who is the best."

Van Barneveld hit eight 180s as he cruised to a 10-4 result against Vincent van der Voort, his compatriot proving unable to muster much of a challenge due to his inability to hit doubles.

He missed five attempts as he quickly slipped 4-0 behind and won only two of the opening 11 legs. Barney had a slight wobble getting over the line, missing two chances to see off his good friend, before finally sealing a place in the last 16 thanks to double 16.

Wes Newton did produce an impressive comeback in the local derby against Ronnie Baxter, the former eventually coming out on top 11-9 having at one stage been 8-4 behind.

In Sunday's afternoon action, Paul Nicholson saw off Robert Thornton 10-8 in the only match to see the loser win more than four legs.

'The Asset' recovered from 2-0 down to take the next five legs in a row, only for his opponent to respond with four on the spin himself, putting him 6-5 ahead.

Thornton also edged 7-6 in front, then missed three crucial darts to extend that advantage. That allowed Nicholson to take out double 12 to level in the 14th leg, and he didn't look back from there.

"When I got the opportunity I took it and I've worked so hard over the last couple of weeks to get ready for this tournament and I can see a lot of positives, said Nicholson, who has been troubled this year by a pain in his neck and shoulders.

"In that first five or six legs, I can see some good scoring and I've just got to get some consistency, which will come with match practice. I'm looking forward to the future."

Dave Chisnall - the man who knocked Nicholson out of the tournament last year - eased through, beating Dean Winstanley 10-4. Richie Burnett won by the same scoreline against Brendan Dolan while Andy Hamilton won seven successive legs in his 10-3 triumph over Wayne Jones.