REIGNING champions Netherlands made a sensational start to their title defence at the 2019 BetVictor World Cup of Darts by whitewashing Spain on Friday night, as England and Australia also moved into round two in Hamburg.
World Champion Michael van Gerwen was joined by debutant Jermaine Wattimena in the Dutch side, with four-time World Cup winner Raymond van Barneveld missing out for the first time in the event’s history in 2019.
However, Wattimena showed his quality as the Dutch disposed of Spain’s Cristo Reyes and Toni Alcinas in under ten minutes in a clinical performance.
Wattimena took out 108 to win the tie’s opening leg and also landed key finishes in leg three and four before Van Gerwen checked out 82 to seal a comprehensive win.
“I’m really pleased,” said Van Gerwen. “Jermaine was phenomenal and it was a pleasure to play with him – he did really well and couldn’t have done much better.
“We are here to defend our title and we’re still favourites. I think we are strong as a team, we’ve started off really well and are confident.”
Wattimena admitted: “I was a bit nervous but it felt really great. It’s a lot of pressure but with Michael next to me, I feel more confident.”
The Netherlands now play Poland in Saturday’s second round, after Krzysztof Ratajski and Tytus Kanik proved too strong for the Czech Republic’s Karel Sedlacek and Pavel Jirkal by finishing five doubles from nine attempts in a 5-2 victory.
The Polish duo took command by winning the first three legs without reply, with a 160 finish from Sedlacek helping the Czech duo to cut the gap to 4-2 before Ratajski sealed the win on tops with a 14-darter.
England opened their bid to win a fifth World Cup title with a resounding 5-1 win over the Philippines, as Michael Smith made a strong debut in the tournament alongside Rob Cross.
Cross kicked off the tie with a 106 finish, before Smith landed the winning double in the next three legs as England moved into a commanding 4-0 lead.
Lourence Ilagan took out tops for the Philippines to reply in leg five, but England swiftly wrapped up victory as Smith posted double eight.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play for my country, and it’s up there with some of my biggest games,” said Smith, the 2019 World Championship finalist.
“Every kid wants to represent their country in any sport and I’ve done it now – but we’re here to win this, I’m going to make sure we take the medals home.
“We gelled well then and I hit some good scores at the right time and we got the job done.”
Cross added: “I think without Michael tonight I would have struggled a bit more. I didn’t play my best tonight and I don’t think Michael did but we had good chemistry.”
William O’Connor landed the winning double for the Republic of Ireland in four out of five legs as he joined Steve Lennon in seeing off Greece 5-1.
Lennon’s double 15 gave Ireland the opener before Veniamin Symeonidis took out tops to level, but O’Connor proved too clinical by claiming the next four as they moved into the second round.
“We’re happy with the win and that’s all we could aim for today,” said O’Connor. “Both of us are capable of producing world class darts, we can beat anyone out there on our day so we’ll have to wait and see.
“We’ll be giving it our best and whoever beats us is going to have to earn it.”
Australia won a shoot-out with Finland to secure their last 16 spot, with Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson claiming a 5-4 win with a 14-darter in the deciding leg.
Finland’s Marko Kantele and Kim Viljanen led 1-0 and came from 2-1 down to lead 3-2 in mid-game, only for Australia to level with a 13-darter and then move 4-3 up.
Tops for Finland saw them take the tie all the way, but Whitlock and Anderson both opened the decider with 180s before Whitlock finished 70 in two darts to claim victory.
“It means the world to us,” said Whitlock, who was a finalist in 2012. “We are so passionate about our country and this is a great win for us.
“To go 140 and 140 in the last leg you get a little bit of a cushion and we took full advantage of it. I’d love to win this tournament – we play well together and are a great team.”
Australia now play Canada, for whom Dawson Murschell and debutant Jim Long overcame Italy’s Andrea Micheletti and Stefano Tomassetti 5-3 in a high-quality encounter.
Micheletti fired in a 116 finish in leg two and the Italians levelled in leg four with a 13-darter and shared the opening six legs.
However, Canada followed up a superb 106 checkout in leg five with tops to move 4-3 up, before Long landed double ten to seal a winning World Cup debut.
Austria mounted a fightback from 3-1 down against Russia to claim a 5-3 victory as Mensur Suljovic and Zoran Lerchbacher booked their second round place.
Russian pair Boris Koltsov and Aleksey Kadochnikov came from a leg down to take the next three, including a brilliant 116 finish from the latter to break in leg three with a 12-darter.
Austria, though, stepped in to take the next two to level before Lerchbacher finished 138 to move his country 4-3 up, and Suljovic sealed victory on double 16 for a 13-dart leg.
The Austrians now face the American pair of Darin Young and Chuck Puleo, who booked their place in the last 16 with a 5-1 win over China’s Xiaochen Zong and Yuanjun Liu.
After sharing the opening two legs, USA found their rhythm and combined well to move into a 3-1 advantage.
Young then took the fifth leg for the Americans, before Puleo secured victory on his World Cup debut by landing double three.
Saturday’s second round will begin in the afternoon session as Thursday’s winning nations return to the stage for their last 16 ties, as the tournament moves into a format of two Singles ties and a possible Doubles decider.
Two-time finalists Scotland face Sweden, while 2013 runners-up Belgium meet host nation Germany.
Thursday’s giant-killers South Africa open up against New Zealand before Singapore look to follow up their upset victory over Wales when they face Japan.
BetVictor World Cup of Darts
Friday June 7
USA 5-1 China
Canada 5-3 Italy
Poland 5-2 Czech Republic
Republic of Ireland 5-1 Greece
England 5-1 Philippines
Austria 5-3 Russia
Australia 5-4 Finland
Netherlands 5-0 Spain
Credit – Pics : Stefan Strassenberg/PDC Europe