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With the women’s team having secured a comfortable victory and the crowd swelling as the night progressed, the pressure was on Lancaster men’s darts team. In an unbelievable night the team survived several York comebacks and a one and a half hour delay due to an incident in the crowd, to win the final game after George Hardy defeated Nick Hall.
Game 1 – John McGathan (L) 2-1 Jonny Law (Y)
With an expectant crowd in attendance and the pressure on to get off to a good start, the in-form McGathan was selected for Lancaster. Both started scoring steadily and settled into the game although it was Law that won the leg against the darts by checking out on double 10.
In the second it was McGathan that upped the ante and gave himself a cushion as he approached the doubles. In usual fashion McGathan checked out on double 16 quickly to level the match.
With the volume being ramped up by an enthusiastic crowd the players served up a mightily close leg which McGathan looked to have sealed, requiring tops with Law stranded on 101. However, some poor finishing led to a double one off which eventually went Lancaster’s way.
Game 2 – Martin Bridson (L) 2-1 Adam Samuel (Y)
The big scoring Bridson was next to be summoned and after a rousing walk on he was quickly into his rthym and took the a close first leg with a double 18.
Both players traded tons in the second leg and Samuel gave himself the chance to take the leg thanks to a scrappy 115. Whilst Bridson missed the opportunity on double 16, Samuel was not so profligate as he levelled.
The occasion clearly affected the players as the third leg progressed. The scoring was more moderate and both had chances on their doubles before Bridson stood up and hammered home a double eight to put Lancaster in control.
Game 3 – Max Sanders (L) 0-2 Alex Harrison (Y)
Next up for Lancaster was the dangerous but unpredictable Sanders. He lived up to this reputation with a pair of tons to leave himself well clear with Harrison on 130. However, the double eluded Sanders and Harrison made no mistake on double 18.
The second leg was more straight forward for Harrison who hit a 19 darter to take the match 2-0. Sanders was clearly disappointed with his efforts but was up against a class player and arguably York’s best performer on the night.
Game 4 – Richard Floyd (L) 0-2 Ewan McDonald (Y)
Nick O’Malley turned to his reliable experienced player in an attempt to maintain a two game lead. However, McDonald had not read the script and recovered well after Floyd opened with a 125. After Floyd faltered with his doubles it was McDonald that checked out first on double four.
Floyd also scored well in the second leg and found himself on 72 with McDonald floundering on 263. An errant dart proved Floyds undoing a he was left stranded on double one whilst McDonald treated the crowd to a 122 check out with a bull to finish.
Game 5 – Pat Williamson (L) 2-0 Andy Ralston (Y)
Williamson was the next man in, and is no stranger to the pressure of Roses having secured the wining game in 2010. Old form rang true as Williamson got off to a great start and then hit the double 18 at the first attempt despite using someone else’s darts after leaving his own set in Lancaster.
Williamson was in unstoppable form and clinched the second leg with a double two after coming within a wires width of taking out 132.
Game 6 – James Stone (L) 2-0 Chris West (Y)
Lancaster looked to ram home their advantage by playing the reliable Stone with the away side 3-2 up. And the Bowland player showed his class by coming back from a dismal score of one with a classy 140. With West struggling 171 behind, Stone took out tops to take the leg.
The second leg was more subdued with both players scoring steadily. It was Stone that had the first chance on the double, which he duly took with a double eight. His average of 58.94 was the highest of the night.
Game 7 – Neil Rylander (L) 1-2 Jordan Horseman (Y)
Next up for Lancaster was the unfancied Grizedale fourth seed Rylander. O’Malley was right to have confidence in a player who had surprised all by reaching Roses. The first leg started in dramatic circumstances with Rylander hitting 80s galore, although he struggled to finish the leg off and allowed Horseman to steal the leg with tops.
The second leg was also a tight affair which was effectively won by Rylander he struck a 121 to leave himself the opportunity to hit double ten.
The decider was an odd leg of darts as Rylander appeared to have lost form throughout only to come within a wires width of checking out on bull. The result was a Horseman victory after a double one off to put the overall score at 4-3 to Lancaster.
Game 8 – Ben Staley (L) 1-2 Andy Myhill (Y)
Wildcard Staley from Pendle was next up as Lancaster sought to finish the tie off. And it looked to be going well for Staley as he started in fine form with a 140 and two tons against a shell shocked opponent. However, Myhill battled back superbly to take the leg with a double top finish.
As the second leg was in its early stages an incident in the crowd resulted in beer being thrown onto the laptop that the sponsors were using to score the contest. What unfolded next was farcical and led to a 90 minute delay in proceedings. The sponsors began packing up the oche and all the equipment they had brought to host the event whilst confusion reigned amongst the crowd and players alike. Bouncers were then called in to disperse the crowd and by the time order was restored it was midnight and in front of around 30 spectators the event continued.
In what was understandably an average leg, it was Staley that hit the double 10 at the first attempt to level the game at 1-1.
In the third leg it was Myhill that rose to the occasion, hitting two 140s and giving Staley no chance to respond. An assured checkout ensured that the men’s darts would go to a decider.
Game 9 – George Hardy (L) 2-0 Nick Hall (Y)
Hardy was the ideal man to be taking to the oche for Lancaster in such a situation. As O’Malley admitted later “I know George has won many deciders in the past. He was the one to make it 5-4 away at Fylde to all but secure the league for Grad”. And Hardy lived up to his billing in the first leg to hold his nerve and hit the double eight after Hall had missed chances himself.
The second leg was a similar story with a visibly frustrated Hall missing double 18 and allowing Hardy to pounce with a double one under immense pressure. The reception for this success was disappointingly muted after the shenanigans of earlier in the evening but for the players the four points gathered for the Lancaster Roses team were just as sweet.
A weary looking captain Nick O’Malley was clearly pleased with his side’s performance as he confessed “I was never really concerned about losing”. Such a statement belies the tension that accompanied this 5-4 win. For those lucky enough to witness it, Roses darts will long in the memory.