King locks horns with the Bull
There are a number of tight contests on the first afternoon of the Players Championship Finals on Friday but one that stands out as a potential thriller, and one for the darting purists is Terry Jenkins taking on Mervyn King.
It may have been Terry who finished higher than Merv on the Pro Tour Order of Merit, but the King has a superior record to the Bull in their head to head clashes. In fact the Grand Prix finalist has won their last four encounters, including on the big stage in Dublin last month. King is odds-on favourite because of this impressive form, but Terry always has a chance in matches and the safest bet may be the 5/6 on over 9.5 legs with bet365.
Another match of this calibre is Rob Thornton against Mark Walsh, two great competitors but unfortunately Walsh has been struggling a bit of late and didn’t look too clever at the Grand Slam. Thornton in comparison has been playing pretty well and could take this one fairly comfortably, it is foolish to write off Special Brew but on form Thornton could take this with a -2.5 handicap which is 13/8 with Sky Bet.
The first match of the afternoon is an intriguing one as young Michael Smith continues to try and make an impact on the big stage against Ian White. Smith has been thoroughly impressive on the floor but is yet to make it in front of the television cameras. His time will come, but it is unlikely to be against White who has been in great form for near enough a year now and although still outside the world’s top 32 will be the one to avoid for many top players at the Ally Pally. William Hill are offering evens on Diamond White with a -1.5 handicap and that looks a good offer to me.
Paul Nicholson has been coming back to form of late but his contest with Ronnie Baxter is still one that could very much go either way and I wouldn’t be keen on going near that myself. If either man gets going quickly then the other will be in deep trouble, but both these two have the propensity to throw in a pretty poor match every so often, so I fancy under 3.5 180s in the match at 11/10 with Paddy Power.
Similarly Peter Wright against Colin Lloyd is a pick ‘em contest and the bookies can’t even separate them with the same odds for both being quoted across the board. I’d just fancy Wright on current form, but be careful about throwing it into an accumulator as it could easily go either way.
Justin Pipe should see off Colin Osborne fairly easy and I would take him with a -2.5 handicap at 6/4 with Sky Bet and Andy Hamilton should do the same to Andy Smith which is 11/8 with the same bookmaker.
A potential upset on the first afternoon is Vincent van der Voort againt Kim Huybrechts. The Belgian is clearly an excellent player but hasn’t made the impact that many expected this year and is developing a reputation for throwing away games. Big Vince hasn’t been in much form himself, but over a short format and being devastating when in a rhythm, he could just blow out the Hurricane early and may be worth backing at 7/4 with Sporting Bet.
Ian White to win (-1.5) at evens with William Hill
Justin Pipe to win (-2.5) @ 6/4 with Sky Bet
Vincent van der Voort to win @ 7/4 with Sportingbet
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