12 January 2013

TONY OUT OF HARMS WAY AND INTO THE LAKESIDE FINAL

Lakeside favourite Tony O’Shea short-circuited former electrician Wesley Harms’ title aspirations with a gripping 92-minute 6-4 victory. It was nailbiting encounter which saw Sparky twice battle back to level in a match which featured 15 maximums and a plethora of 100 plus finishes. O’Shea displayed a confidence and determination which suggests this could be the year he casts off his “nearly man” image which has seen him fail to score a victory in six major tournament appearances. Tomorrow he hopes it will be third time lucky as he lines up in an intriguing all-England encounter with fellow international Scott Waites, the third seed and bookies favourite. The clash between O’Shea and Harms was eagerly awaited – a repeat of last year’s semi final which saw Silverback topple the debutant Dutchman. O’Shea snatched the opening leg against the throw after Harms missed double 18 for a 92 checkout, the Cheshire player hitting shanghai on 20s. He then hit 180 and 140 following up with a superb 121 checkout finished on double eight, Harms annexing the third on double tops. With Harms motoring down to 142 in the fourth leg, the veteran England international powered in 162 to leave himself 32, Harms leaving the same scoreline after his next throw . But O’Shea defiantly fired out double six to steal a psychological advantage after clinching the set against the throwing advantage. The opening legs of the second set went with the throw, Harms notching his 12th maximum of the week and then producing a superb 120 checkout, finished on double 20, holding his nerve to take the match-levelling fourth leg on double nine, after narrowly missing double 18. The opening legs of the third set were also shared as both players hit maximums, O’Shea exiting on 81 and then Harms on 76. Despite a 140 from the flying Dutchman, O’Shea swooped to level the set with a blockbusting 160, finished on double 20. The Stockport player missed double tops for a set-winning 120 checkout in the deciding leg the Sparky exiting on 84, wrapped up on double 11. Harms had the chance to steal the darts after hitting another maximum in the opening leg of the fourth set but fluffed three doubles, O’Shea nipping in for double 16, the Dutchman finishing the next on the same double after missing bull for 170. O’Shea took the fourth leg with the throw, his fourth maximum steering him to a match-levelling 13-darter, finished on double six. Bolstered by his fifth 180 of the match and 19th of the week, O’Shea snatched the throwing advantage in the opening leg of the fifth set, exiting in 11 darts on double tops. There was another maximum in the next as the former green keeper from Cheshire teed up the set with double 12 but he then missed double 10 for a 140 finish, the Dutchman exiting on 66. The veteran England international recovered from three missed doubles in the next leg to take a 3-2 match lead with double 10. Harms took the opening leg of the sixth against the throw, O’Shea replying with two 180s and a 12 dart finish and firing in a nail-biting 102 checkout, only to see Sparky turn on the power to level with double nine.  In the next O’Shea agonised after missing seven set-winning doubles, Harms requiring 44 and hitting single 12, his next dart wide of double 16, landing in single seven.  On his return to the oche, after taking a deep intake of breath, O’Shea defiantly planted his dart in double two to give himself a two set match advantage. Harms, the tournament 7/2 third favourite coolly despatched 83 with a bull finish to open the seventh set but O’Shea replied with a 118 checkout , completed on the unpopular double 19. The man from the Lowlands took the third with a 14-darter but then grimaced after he missed five doubles to take the set, O’Shea levelling  with his fourth attempt for a double.  Silverback missed bull for a set-winning 86 finish, Sparky hitting double eight. After taking the opening leg of the eighth set following a lack-lustre performance from the fourth seed, Harms defended his throw and then blasted in double seven for a match-levelling double seven. But you can’t keep a good man down - O’Shea snatching the opening leg of the ninth set against the throw and then unleashing a 120 checkout, finished on double tops to edge 2-0 ahead.  Both missed doubles in the next before Harms scrambled to double five. Harms missed two doubles to level the set as O’Shea’s double nine eased him into a 5-4 match lead. Despite a 180 from O’Shea,  Sparky had the chance to steal the throw but saw his 121 checkout thwarted after he wired double 11. He took the second with double five, Silverback firing out his 25th 180 of the week and holding on to clinch the third leg with double tops. His 11th 180 and a brace of 140s steered O’Shea ahead in the next and he punished the Dutchman’s poor scoring, clinching victory and a place in the final with double 16. Afterwards 51-year-old O’Shea admitted: “I went to bed for a few legs, I just went to sleep. But I still think there’s a lot more in my tank. In the last couple of sets I showed I am not as old as people think! But I will always give my best – 100 per cent. “I want to win this event. It’s not about the money I want to be called ‘world champion’ because they can’t take it away from you,” said the Stockport sharpshooter. Harms said: “ I am proud of my performance and would like to make it three straight semi final appearances next year.”        

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