Jonny Clayton and Luke Humphries hosted a tantalizing reunion; we’re back for more World Matchplay on Saturday in the iconic Winter Gardens as the final four battle it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy – live on Sky Sports Action at 8pm
By Raz Mirza at Winter Gardens, Blackpool
Last update: 22/07/23 00:02
Jonny Clayton crashed in a superb six-tonne-plus finish to set up a World Matchplay semi-final encounter with Luke Humphries at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on Friday.
Clayton reached the semi-final at Winter Gardens for the first time after a 16-12 win over Ryan Searle with an average of 97.5, seven 180s and six six-plus boxes, while Humphries held off a late fightback from Damon Heta to win 16-13 in a game with more breaks than catches.
World Matchplay Quarter-Finals: Friday, July 21
Searle and Clayton locked horns in the quarter-final opener of the night after the pair knocked out former champions Peter Wright and Dimitri Van den Bergh to reach the last eight.
The first four innings were split with Clayton pinning a superb 118 crate on the double 19 to make it 2-2 before ‘Heavy Metal’ landed in the lead to move 3-2 ahead with two 180s and an average of 106.40 to Clayton’s 102.23.
The relentless pace of the contest continued with both players racking up big numbers and huge finishes.
Clayton scored a scintillating 121 in the eighth inning, but Somerset pitcher Searle hit with a 121 on the bull to tie it at 5-5.
In a barnstorming battle, Searle, who produced the opening-round performance to demolish Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld, before claiming another major scalp to topple 2021 winner Peter Wright in the last 16, fired in a sixth 180 and a 96 finish to regain the upper hand at 7-6.
Former Premier League and World Grand Prix champion Clayton added a third over-a-tonne cash of the match with a 115 to level it at 7-7, then he hit a fourth thanks to a magnificent 124 on the bull to make it 8-8.
‘The Ferret’ capitalized on Searle’s missed dart at the top with a 76 outshot and he held on to his two-leg cushion for an 11-9 advantage averaging 100.23 and 65 percent in doubles.
Welshman Clayton broke again with a cool 100 crate and he then planted a remarkable sixth over ton finish with a cracking 122 on the bull moments later to make it 13-9.
And Clayton, 48, reached his first World Matchplay semi-final by shooting a double 15 with his first match dart.
Winning it would mean so much for family reasons. My father is not doing very well and I want to do this for him. I am very emotional. My dad is my biggest fan so I want to do this for him. I’m still fighting here and I hope I’ll be there this Sunday in the final.
Jonny Clayton wants to win Matchplay for his sick father
Humphries then took on Australia’s No. 1 Heta, who embraced the role of pantomime villain with his ash-themed extras and he didn’t disappoint as he returned for the third Test at the Empress Ballroom.
‘Cool Hand Luke’ survived a match dart to earn an epic second-round tie-break against Dirk van Duijvenbode and he was in no mood to repeat as he took a 3-2 lead with an average of 102.3.
The 28-year-old sank a good ton on the highs to move 5-4 up front, but Heta remained calm and composed to hang on to Humphries’ tails on the double 16.
Humphries struck out 68 to regain the lead at 7-6 before taking the contest by opening a three-inning buffer at 10-7 in a contest-breaking 14-for-17 innings.
Former UK Open runner-up Humphries, who is yet to win a TV Rankings title, earned a rare pitching catch with an 81 finish for 11-darts and a 12-8 cushion.
He then hit with a crate of 121 to extend his advantage before holding the next game on the highs to move closer to victory at 14-8.
‘The Heat’ wasn’t giving up easily as he won three sets on the spin with a skin-saving 152 to make it 15-13.
But after missing two darts at the top, world No. 6 Humphries completed the win with two double 18s in a match that featured an incredible 20 breaks.
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World Matchplay Semi-Finals: Saturday, July 22
Nathan Aspinall and Joe Cullen will meet in the first semi-final on Saturday night with World Cup winner Wales Clayton and sixth seed Humphries facing off in the second of the last four clash.
We’re back for more World Matchplay action in the iconic Winter Gardens on Saturday at 8pm as the final four battle it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy – live on Sky Sports Action from 8pm. Stream World Matchplay and more with NOW for £21 a month