WEYMOUTH’S Danny Aplin had a superb run to the quarter-finals before losing to PDC Pro Tour player Johnny Haines at the 2018 Southern Counties Open.

It was his first time entering the tournament and lost to the eventual winner after a superb match.

The first day saw the Ladies’ Singles, which had a record 60 entries and Dorset saw three players reach the semi-finals as Suzy Trickett aimed to be the first lady to defend her title as she beat Anna Johnson 3-0.

Samantha Kirton, Dorset A team’s current top lady in the county averages, failed to produce her best form and lost 3-1 to the more experienced Cathy Campbell from Sherborne.

Trickett played consistently well through the group stages and continued her form in the knockout stage of the competition and went on to repeat her 2017 win to regain the title with a convincing performance outscoring Campbell taking the game 4-2 in the final to collect the £600 prize.

The Mixed Pairs competition also had a record 63 pairs enter and 2017 winners Nigel Lamb and Cathy Campbell played well to reach the semi-final but were beaten 3-2 by Steve Brown, a PDC Challenge Tour player, and Sally Smith.

The winning duo went on to become this year’s champions after defeating Dean Lewer and Donna Gullock who have now lost in the final two years in a row.

The junior competition was the ?rst tour event of 2018 with Brad Phillips claiming a Junior Darts Corporation World Finals spot by winning the final 5-3 against Jack Seymour.

Sunday saw 224 players enter the Men’s Singles and the standard of darts in the group games was very high so it proved no surprise when it came to the knockout stage that players not performing at their best would falter and well known names to be eliminated early on included England International Paul Hogan who lost to Roy Pidgeon.

Pidgeon shot out on 144 with the game at two legs each in the deciding last leg, with Hogan sat on double 20.

Newcomer was Ricky King, from Swanage, who proved his ability to reach the final by beating, among others: Thomas Chant 3-0, Kelvin Hart 3-0, Nigel Lamb 4-2 and Dorset County A player Dale Masterman in the semi-final 5-3.

Haines, a PDC Pro Tour player took the Southern Counties title and £2,000 prize money on offer by beating King 6-5 in the final.

This year’s final was one of the best the competition has seen with Haines racing to a 3-0 lead.

King never gave up and came from behind to lead 5-4 but he then missed a great opportunity with the darts to take the title leaving double 20 but Haines shot out on 124 with a bullseye finish.

Haines showed his experience and threw a fantastic last leg helped by a 180 maximum score to take the title.

Jason Hambleton, general manager of the George Albert, offered raffle prizes of dart boards signed by John Lowe and Eric Bristow which raised £525 in aid of the Devon/Dorset & Air Ambulance.


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