Champions Cup: Marcus Smith stars as Harlequins thrash Cardiff, Exeter progress but Sale and Bristol lose


Harlequins’ Nick David in action against Cardiff

Harlequins took a giant stride towards progressing to the knockout stages of
the Champions Cup with a bonus-point victory over Cardiff in a thrilling game at
a sold-out Arms Park.

Cardiff competed fiercely in the first half hour but were then out-gunned by some exhilarating play from the visitors, who ran in eight tries in the 54-15 win.

Jack Walker, Will Evans, Andre Esterhuizen, Will Beard, Dillon Lewis, Fin Baxter, Tyrone Green and Marcus Smith all touched down for Quins.

England fly-half Smith converted seven of the tries in a personal points tally of 19.

Thomas Young scored two tries for Cardiff, with Tinus de Beer adding a penalty and a conversion.

Smith led out Quins on his 150th appearance for the club, but they were soon behind when De Beer kicked a fourth-minute penalty.

Early ferocity from Cardiff rattled their opponents and it resulted in a try for the Welsh region. Quins failed to deal with a well-judged cross-field kick from De Beer, with lock Seb Davies knocking the ball into the path of Young who raced 40 metres to the line.

Quins soon responded with a try from Walker after an unstoppable line-out drive, before Cardiff made two mistakes in quick succession to give the Londoners another attacking platform.

Willis Halaholo knocked on before De Beer lost substantial ground by kicking straight into touch. As a result, the visitors were able to win a penalty but they turned down a simple kick at goal in favour of more attacking options, however, it proved the wrong call.

The hosts suffered an injury blow when young full-back Cam Winnett was led off and failed an HIA, but they still led 8-7 at the end of a compelling first quarter.

Cardiff then produced a stunning second try. On the halfway line, they cleverly created for Harri Millard to make ground down the right flank before Tomos Williams was on hand to provide Young with his second try.

The English outfit reacted swiftly to score a try of equal merit. Quick hands and excellent ball-retention sucked in the defence leaving Esterhuizen with a 30-metre run-in.

The entertainment was now breathtaking as Quins looked in desperate trouble on their own line, but somehow Smith conjured up a gap to send Will Evans racing to near halfway. With men in support, Evans chose to kick as Tomos Williams was able to dash back and save the day.

However, Quins were not to be denied as a strong from Nick David set up a try for Evans before more incredible handling saw Beard just hold off a cover tackle from Mason Grady for the bonus point and a 28-15 half-time lead.

Within four minutes of the restart, Quins had another when Care gave Smith a walk-in try after the Cardiff defence was torn to shreds.

With Quins firmly in control, the action slowed but the visitors were still able to emphasise their superiority with late tries from front-rowers Lewis and Baxter before Green took his side past the 50-point mark.

Leinster and Exeter progress to knock-outs but costly defeats for Sale, Bristol

Leinster continued their 100 per cent start in the Champions Cup with a crushing victory over Stade Francais on Saturday.

Pool Four rivals Sale still have work to do to join them in the last 16, however, after going down to a bonus-point defeat against Stormers in South Africa.

Leinster were highly impressive as they ran in seven tries in an emphatic 43-7 win at the Aviva Stadium.

James Lowe began the rout after 17 minutes and Josh van der Flier and Dan Sheehan added further scores before the break.

Jordan Larmour and Caelan Doris then claimed two apiece after the break with Stade Francais limited to a late consolation from Joris Segonds.

Sale were edged out by four tries to three as they suffered a 31-24 loss in Cape Town.

Tries from Hacjivah Dayimani and Suleiman Hartzenberg gave Stormers an early advantage and, with Leolin Zas later scoring two, the hosts were able to stay ahead despite replies from Jonny Hill, Agustin Creevy and Sam Bedlow.

Bedlow was sin-binned in a dramatic ending but the Sharks clung on for their bonus point as Manie Libbok, who had earlier kicked 11 points, missed the resulting penalty.

Henry Slade’s late touchline conversion of Zack Wimbush’s try secured Exeter a 19-17 victory over Glasgow which sealed their place in the knockout stages.

The Chiefs could have lost in a dramatic end to the match, though, as Glasgow secured a five-metre scrum from the restart.

It was Exeter’s put-in but the ball ran loose for replacement Euan Ferrie to crash over but TMO replays showed he had broken from the scrum early and the try was disallowed.

Also in Pool Three, Munster boosted their hopes of reaching the next phase with a 29-18 triumph at Toulon.

The Irish province trailed 10-0 early on but recovered to lead 17-13 at the break and then powered on to their first victory in this season’s competition with tries from Tom Ahern and Calvin Nash.

Alex Nankivell and Simon Zebo had crossed in the first half in response to Duncan Paia’aua’s early score while Jack Crowley landed three conversions and a penalty.

In Pool One, Bristol‘s hopes of reaching the knockout stages were dealt a major setback as South African challengers the Bulls beat them 31-17 at Ashton Gate.

The west country club must now beat Connacht in Galway to have even an outside chance of making the last 16, but they are still likely to be reliant on results elsewhere.

Bristol Bears' Gabriel Ibitoye (left) is tackled by Vodacom Bulls' Khutha Mchunu

Bristol Bears’ Gabriel Ibitoye (left) is tackled by Vodacom Bulls’ Khutha Mchunu

Bristol were overpowered by a physical, unrelenting Bulls team, conceding tries to wing Sergeal Petersen, prop Khutha Mchunu, flanker Elrigh Louw and hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels, with fly-half Johan Goosen kicking three conversions and a penalty, and centre David Kriel landing one conversion.

Bulls’ bonus-point triumph owed everything to their overwhelming scrummaging superiority, with Bristol restricted to tries from scrum-half Kieran Marmion, wing Gabriel Ibitoye and number eight Magnus Bradbury, plus one AJ MacGinty conversion.

The Gallagher Premiership side could have no complaints, while the Bulls underlined credentials as a force in the 24-team competition.

Connacht slipped to their third successive defeat as they were beaten 34-20 in their Pool One encounter at Lyon.

Sean Jansen stunned the hosts with an early try but the French side hit back through Thaakir Abrahams and Alexandre Tchaptchet.

Cian Prendergast and Tadgh McElroy touched down to keep Connacht in contention but, with 12 points from the boot of Paddy Jackson and further tries from Mickael Guillard and Abrahams, Lyon had enough.

Ulster‘s hopes of going through remain in the balance after they were overpowered 48-24 by Pool Two leaders Toulouse.

Antoine Dupont was in inspired form, scoring two of his side’s seven tries and having a hand in a number of others as the French side secured their spot in the last 16.

Peato Mauvaka also touched down twice after Matthis Lebel had opened the scoring. Alexandre Roumat added another in a dominant first hour.

Tom Stewart, Will Addison and Nick Timoney restored some respectability to the scoreline for Ulster but Emmanuel Meafou put the seal on Toulouse’s performance.Thomas Ramos weighed in with 11 points.



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World Darts Championship: Luke Littler’s dreams ended by Luke Humphries in sensational final

Luke Littler defeated 7-4 by world No 1 Luke Humphries in final; Premier League Darts returns to Sky Sports on Thursday February 1 as Cardiff kicks off the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs on Thursday May 23 at London’s O2

Last Updated: 03/01/24 10:51pm


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Humphries hits the winning darts to defeat Luke Littler 7-4 in the World Darts Championship final

Humphries hits the winning darts to defeat Luke Littler 7-4 in the World Darts Championship final

Luke Littler’s World Darts Championship dreams were finally ended by world No 1 Luke Humphries in a sensational final at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday night.

Humphries fought back from 4-2 down to win five consecutive sets and win his maiden world title 7-4 to make it four major victories in a row following his success at the World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts, and Players Championship Finals in recent months.

“I’ll draw a lot from this and this will be a moment that will never be forgotten,” Humphries told Sky Sports. “I don’t want to say that I’ve completed darts but everything that you want on the resume I’ve done now, so now it’s now about motivating yourself to do more and more.

World Darts Championship Final

Luke Humphries 7-4 Luke Littler

Humphries said he couldn't ask for more after claiming the World Darts Championship title

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Humphries said he couldn’t ask for more after claiming the World Darts Championship title

Humphries said he couldn’t ask for more after claiming the World Darts Championship title

Littler said: “It has been unbelievable. The one negative was I lost too many legs with my throw so Luke could break me.

“That was the only negative, I just couldn’t hold my own throw and I didn’t win. Every game has been good but that one has just really annoyed me, especially the three missed to keep it going.

“That’s what the crowd wanted but fair play to Luke, he deserves it.”

Humphries started the better by capitalising on a slow start from Littler to take the opening set 3-1 with a 99.2 average despite eight missed darts at doubles.

It didn’t take ‘The Nuke’ long to discover his best in the second set, coming from 2-1 down by producing two 12-dart legs with the aid of a spectacular 142 checkout and a ‘Shanghai’ 120 finish.

Littler hit a 142 and a 120 checkouts to win the second set

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Littler hit a 142 and a 120 checkouts to win the second set

Littler hit a 142 and a 120 checkouts to win the second set

The third set also went the distance with ‘Cool Hand’ edging it from 2-0 down to regain the upper hand with a 116 checkout to take it, but the Warrington teenage sensation struck back to secure the fourth set 3-1 and restore parity with a 99 average and an impressive 47 per cent on the doubles.

It was 2-2 in sets and 9-9 in legs with nothing to separate the two players.

Littler nailed this 122 checkout to the despair of Humphries

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Littler nailed this 122 checkout to the despair of Humphries

Littler nailed this 122 checkout to the despair of Humphries

For the first time in the match, the player who started the set won it after nine break of throws in 22 legs, with World Youth Champion Littler going ahead for the first time in the match before wrapping up the fifth set, averaging a ton.

The new world No 1 found himself under pressure here as Littler made it nine legs from the last 11 to open up a two-set advantage at 4-2.

Humphries reeled in his second 170 finish in a matter of days in a seventh set which was full of carnage.

Humphries took out 'The Big Fish' in the final

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Humphries took out ‘The Big Fish’ in the final

Humphries took out ‘The Big Fish’ in the final

Littler responded with a third ton-plus finish of the final – a 122 checkout – which Wayne Mardle described as “spiteful, dirty, nasty!” in the commentary box, before Humphries survived a set dart before sealing it on double 14 to reduce the deficit.

And Humphries piled in a classy 121 checkout on the bull to make it back-to-back sets to get back on level terms with a 114.17 set average but it also coincided with Littler slightly dropping off.

Humphries took out this 121 checkout in a sensational final

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Humphries took out this 121 checkout in a sensational final

Humphries took out this 121 checkout in a sensational final

The 28-year-old Newbury thrower threw back-to-back 108 checkouts to lead 2-0 in the ninth set and although the teenager battled back to level up, a 180 to start the set and a 36 checkout enabled Humphries to win the leg and set in 11 darts.

Humphries pinned back-to-back 108 checkouts

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Humphries pinned back-to-back 108 checkouts

Humphries pinned back-to-back 108 checkouts

A relentless Humphries made it four sets on the spin as he took full control of the final to go within a set of the title, despite Littler reeling in a ‘Big Fish’ of his own.

However, it was ‘Cool Hand’ who got his hands on the Sid Waddell Trophy to become the 12th different PDC World Champion after pinning double 8 in the 11th set.

Talking about Littler, Humphries said: “I’m not just saying this because it will please everyone, but Luke has been an unbelievable talent.

“Not just about the dartboard, he has been fantastic with all the media that has come about with him and he took the defeat so well.

“He said go on and celebrate. You will never see another down-to-earth 16-year-old kid like him who is just something else.

“I really hope he’s in the Premier League because, if he don’t want to play in it fair enough, but I think he’d be a pleasure to play alongside this year.

“He’s one of the best players in the world, there is no doubt about that.”

Littler nailed his own 170 checkout in an incredible final

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Littler nailed his own 170 checkout in an incredible final

Littler nailed his own 170 checkout in an incredible final

Social media reaction to Humphries win…

Premier League Darts returns to Sky Sports on Thursday February 1 as Cardiff kicks off the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs on Thursday May 23. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW



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Luke Littler reaches World Darts Championship final after beating Rob Cross at Alexandra Palace

Luke Littler, 16, moves one win away from Alexandra Palace glory after crushing Rob Cross 6-2 in semi-finals; Littler will face Luke Humphries in final; We’re back at 7.30pm on Wednesday for the World Darts Championship final – live on Sky Sports Darts

Last Updated: 03/01/24 12:15am


Luke Littler defeated 2018 champion Rob Cross to reach the World Darts Championship final

Teenager Luke Littler made it through to the World Darts Championship final after crushing Rob Cross to go within one match of a remarkable maiden title at Alexandra Palace.

Littler averaged 106.05, hitting 16 maximums and ton-plus finishes of 149, 142 and 132 en route to a magnificent 6-2 victory against 2018 winner Cross at the age of 16.

He will face another in-form player in Luke Humphries, who hit top gear to whitewash Scott Williams 6-0 in the second semi-final to become the new world No 1 and stretch his unbeaten run to 18 matches.

“No words! Crazy to think I’m in a World Championship final in my debut,” Littler told Sky Sports. “I was happy winning one game but I could go all the way!

“You’re playing Rob, he’s a world champion and won on debut. Rob told me ‘God bless, you’re a step away, do it’.

“I’ve just settled on the stage. It took me a few legs to settle in the game and once I found that rhythm I was good to go.”

World Darts Championship Semi-Finals Results

Rob Cross 2-6 Luke Littler
Scott Williams vs Luke Humphries

Littler was greeted by the Warrington Wolves’ mascot during an electrifying walk-on, but it was Cross who stormed out of the blocks and edged a quality set in a deciding leg with a 108.6 average.

It was the first time Littler had lost the first set in the tournament.

Littler showed no signs of nerves as he took out this majestic 142 checkout

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Littler showed no signs of nerves as he took out this majestic 142 checkout

Littler showed no signs of nerves as he took out this majestic 142 checkout

The teenager recovered from 2-1 down in the next set and a crucial 74 checkout in the deciding leg saw him draw level with a 101 average and four 180s.

Cross, the 2018 champion, appeared flummoxed by Littler’s incredible accuracy on the treble 20 bed and it wasn’t long before the 16-year-old moved ahead by cracking in a stunning 142 checkout before hitting the front with a 101.6 average.

The teenager nails an incredible 147 finish during his semi-final with Cross

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The teenager nails an incredible 147 finish during his semi-final with Cross

The teenager nails an incredible 147 finish during his semi-final with Cross

Littler opened the fourth set with an 11-darter and he then struck with a mammoth 149 on double 16 to move 2-1 up in legs.

‘Voltage’ levelled and he then hit six perfect darts in the next leg, but it was the world youth champion who extended his lead with a magnificent 11-darter to move 3-1 ahead averaging 103.8 with nine 180s and 65 per cent on the doubles.

What an extraordinary leg! Cross nearly hits a nine but Littler wins it in 11 darts

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What an extraordinary leg! Cross nearly hits a nine but Littler wins it in 11 darts

What an extraordinary leg! Cross nearly hits a nine but Littler wins it in 11 darts

Cross, who made a remarkable comeback from 4-0 down to beat Chris Dobey 5-4 in their quarter-final on Monday, pinned an unorthodox 138 checkout in the second leg of the fifth set.

Littler missed one set dart at tops to extend his lead, allowing former electrician Cross to pounce and close the gap to 3-2 in sets.

‘The Nuke’ wrapped up the sixth set 3-1 with a 107 average compared to Cross’ 91.58 to restore a two-set cushion with 14 maximums.

Littler had one foot in the final after closing out the seventh set by the same scoreline, averaging 110.55 for sets six and seven.

Littler was running riot at Ally Pally and he produced this outrageous 132 finish in the eighth set on his way to victory

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Littler was running riot at Ally Pally and he produced this outrageous 132 finish in the eighth set on his way to victory

Littler was running riot at Ally Pally and he produced this outrageous 132 finish in the eighth set on his way to victory

The teen star was showboating by now and he raised the roof with a 132 checkout by using the bullseye on his way to Wednesday’s final against three-time major champion Luke Humphries or Scott Williams.

Looking ahead to the final, Littler added: “I’ll do what I’ve been doing. In the morning, go for a ham and cheese omelette, then come here have a pizza and then practice. That’s what I’ve done every day.”

Littler got better the longer the match went on. In the last three sets (13 legs) he averaged 112.62

106.05 match average

12x 180s

47% doubles

Humphries produced a statement victory against ‘Shaggy’ Williams with a 108.74 average, 14 180s, a breath-taking display on the doubles and a sensational six ton-plus finishes.

“It was amazing. I would never have imagined myself to be the world No 1. That is a special feeling. And to do it in style,” said a delighted Humphries.

“I’m really pleased with that performance. But, world No 1 can last for a couple months, World Champion is forever so I’ve got a really tough task tomorrow against Luke.”

Luke Humphries is in scary form after he hit six-ton-plus finishes in his demolition against Scott Williams

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Luke Humphries is in scary form after he hit six-ton-plus finishes in his demolition against Scott Williams

Luke Humphries is in scary form after he hit six-ton-plus finishes in his demolition against Scott Williams

Live World Darts Championship

January 3, 2024, 7:30pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

How social media reacted to Littler’s win…

The sport’s biggest event sees the final two players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday night. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW



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World Darts Championship: Michael van Gerwen suffers shock exit to Scott Williams in quarter-finals


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A look back the best of the action from the evening session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals at Alexandra Palace

A look back the best of the action from the evening session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals at Alexandra Palace

Michael van Gerwen’s hopes of a fourth World Darts Championship title were dashed in stunning fashion by Scott Williams at the quarter-final stage on New Year’s Day.

Williams pulled off a sensational 5-3 scalp of Van Gerwen at Alexandra Palace, punishing 27 missed darts at doubles from the three-time champion to set up a meeting with Luke Humphries.

World Darts Championship: New Year’s Day Evening Results

Michael van Gerwen 3-5 Scott Williams
Luke Humphries 5-1 Dave Chisnall

Rob Cross, only former PDC world champion left and in the semi-finals for the first time since winning the title on debut

Luke Littler, 16 years old, in the semi-finals on his debut

Scott Williams in his first major semi-final

Luke Humphries, the pre-tournament favourite, into his first Ally Pally semi-final

Seasonal prize money prior to the World Championship: £32,750

Minimum prize money at the World Championship: £100,000

Scott Williams is in to the semi-finals and the world’s top 32

Scott Williams produced one of the biggest shocks in World Darts Championship history by beating Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals

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Scott Williams produced one of the biggest shocks in World Darts Championship history by beating Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals

Scott Williams produced one of the biggest shocks in World Darts Championship history by beating Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals

Williams came charging out of the blocks by winning the opening set in straight legs, but ‘Mighty Mike’ took out 81 for back-to-back 11-darters to close out the second set 3-1 with a set average of 116.71 despite missing 12 darts at double.

Van Gerwen took out a magnificent 121 checkout before pinning double 16 to seize the initiative in the third set.

Van Gerwen hits this magnificent 121 finish during his quarter-final clash against Williams

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Van Gerwen hits this magnificent 121 finish during his quarter-final clash against Williams

Van Gerwen hits this magnificent 121 finish during his quarter-final clash against Williams

However, the Dutchman threw in a stinker of a set, averaging just 78, and Williams railroaded it 3-0 to get back on level terms at 2-2.

Van Gerwen appeared to have fallen off a cliff when Lincolnshire showman Williams made it six legs on the spin to lead 3-2, but the three-time World Champion soon restored parity in three consecutive legs to stop the rot.

‘Shaggy’ punished more crucial mistakes from the world No 2 to seal the seventh set 3-1 and go within one of a sensational victory before taking the eighth 3-1 to secure a last-four meeting with either Luke Humphries or Dave Chisnall.

Williams said he probably should have beaten Van Gerwen a bit easier after knocking out the pre-tournament favourite

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Williams said he probably should have beaten Van Gerwen a bit easier after knocking out the pre-tournament favourite

Williams said he probably should have beaten Van Gerwen a bit easier after knocking out the pre-tournament favourite

“I just knocked the best player in the world out,” Williams told Sky Sports.

“He wasn’t the Michael van Gerwen we’ve seen over the last couple of games but that’s not my problem.

“I hit the doubles and probably should have won it a little bit easier. I’m absolutely loving it up there. I love a crowd.”

Wayne Wardle was surprised at how 'erratic' Van Gerwen was during his loss

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Wayne Wardle was surprised at how ‘erratic’ Van Gerwen was during his loss

Wayne Wardle was surprised at how ‘erratic’ Van Gerwen was during his loss

Wayne Mardle called Williams’ win a “massive shock”, but also admitted he did a “number” on the Dutch ace.

“Michael van Gerwen normally loses to someone who is a big hitter already, a world champion or a major champion,” ‘Hawaii 501’ said.

“Scott Williams did a number on him. He was there to clean up when he had to clean up and he held it together so well.

“Even Luke Littler and Rob Cross are giving it… ‘WHAT!?’ What an opportunity for everyone left in the tournament.”

Michael van Gerwen missed 30 doubles in his first three games. He missed 27 against Scott Williams

52.4 per cent (33/63) – First 3 games

29.0 per cent (11/38) – vs Williams

Luke Humphries made it through to the semi-finals with this magical 117 checkout

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Luke Humphries made it through to the semi-finals with this magical 117 checkout

Luke Humphries made it through to the semi-finals with this magical 117 checkout

Williams will take on Humphries in the semi-finals after ‘Cool Hand’ thrashed Dave Chisnall 5-1 with a 103.50 average, a dozen 180s, 40 per cent on the doubles and a high checkout of 164.

The World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts and Players Championship winner made it 17 victories in a row to break new ground at Ally Pally.

“It felt strange to be the frontrunner for once,” said Humphries. “I have been used to a lot of comebacks for the last few days and it has just been nice to be me.

“It was nice to be in front and keep pushing hard and I didn’t relent. Chizzy played really well, he made it really tough for me.

“I haven’t been myself in the first couple of games. Tonight, we saw the form I have been showing in the last few majors.

“I played as well as I needed to.”

Humphries thinks the Worlds is wide open after Van Gerwen's exit to Williams

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Humphries thinks the Worlds is wide open after Van Gerwen’s exit to Williams

Humphries thinks the Worlds is wide open after Van Gerwen’s exit to Williams

How Littler set up Cross semi-final…

A look back the best of the action from the afternoon session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals

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A look back the best of the action from the afternoon session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals

A look back the best of the action from the afternoon session of the World Darts Championship quarter-finals

World Darts Championship: New Year’s Day Afternoon Results

Rob Cross 5-4 Chris Dobey
Luke Littler 5-1 Brendan Dolan

In the afternoon, Luke Littler’s amazing Alexandra Palace journey continued after he became the youngest semi-finalist ever after he beat Brendan Dolan 5-1 in the quarter-final.

‘The History Maker’ Dolan had beaten former World Champions Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson but could not compete with Littler, who finished with an average of 101.93 to thrill his adoring fans inside Ally Pally.

All the best moments from Luke Littler in his quarter-final clash against Brendon Dolan

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All the best moments from Luke Littler in his quarter-final clash against Brendon Dolan

All the best moments from Luke Littler in his quarter-final clash against Brendon Dolan

“It feels unbelievable. I would never have thought I would have got to the semis on my debut year,” he said.

“Brendan was just another opponent in my way and I have brushed him aside and now I am into the semi-final.

“It’s going to take a lot to stop me, based on my performances so far. But it is about whatever Luke Littler turns up.

“I have got the ability to go all the way, if it’s not to be tomorrow night, it’s not to be.

“I know I have got a good chance and I have got a good feeling I could go all the way tomorrow.”

Littler believes he is one of the best in the game at board management and he's thinking about lifting the title

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Littler believes he is one of the best in the game at board management and he’s thinking about lifting the title

Littler believes he is one of the best in the game at board management and he’s thinking about lifting the title

He will meet Rob Cross for a spot in the final after ‘Voltage’ looked dead and buried when he was 4-0 down after barely 45 minutes as Chris Dobey played one of the matches of his life.

However, the off-stage break worked wonders for Cross as the former electrician sparked into life.

He reeled off four sets of his own and then took out 130 to seal a remarkable win but he will have to improve if he is stop the Littler train.

“Everyone loves an underdog story,” he said. “As the public and people looking at the game, everyone loves an underdog story.

“I am not being rude, I am on his side, I love an underdog story.

“It took a bit of pressure off me winning it first time as well.

“He’s fantastic and he deserves all the luck in the world, he is a nice young boy. Tomorrow we play darts, though, and I have to go down to business.”

Cross came back from 4-0 down to Chris Dobey to complete a 'darting miracle!'

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Cross came back from 4-0 down to Chris Dobey to complete a ‘darting miracle!’

Cross came back from 4-0 down to Chris Dobey to complete a ‘darting miracle!’

The teenager was taking selfies after beating Brendan Dolan

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The teenager was taking selfies after beating Brendan Dolan

The teenager was taking selfies after beating Brendan Dolan

What’s happening on semi-finals night at the World Darts Championship?

Luke Littler returns to the Ally Pally stage when he aims for a spot in the World Championship final

Luke Littler returns to the Ally Pally stage when he aims for a spot in the World Championship final

Littler will take on 2018 winner Cross in the first semi-final having already proven he is ready to compete on the biggest stage after taking out UK Open winner Andrew Gilding and his hero Raymond van Barneveld on his way to the last eight and he maintained that form against Dolan on New Year’s Day.

Cross produced one of the most memorable Alexandra Palace comebacks having gone 4-0 to Chris Dobey before reeling off four sets of his own and then taking out 130 to seal a famous win.

Live World Darts Championship

January 1, 2024, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

Luke Humphries will face Scott Williams in the second semi-final on Tuesday

Luke Humphries will face Scott Williams in the second semi-final on Tuesday

Having knocked out three-time World Champion Michael van Gerwen, ‘Shaggy’ Scott Williams will take on ‘Cool Hand’ Luke Humphries as he continues his quest for a maiden Ally Pally title.

Humphries came into the tournament as the favourite after winning three of the last four majors but had endured a bumpy ride to the last eight, surviving a sudden death leg against Joe Cullen in the last round.

But he was back to his best in his quarter-final, dispatching Dave Chisnall 5-1.

The sport’s biggest event sees the remaining players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW



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World Darts Championship: Michael Smith is dethroned by Chris Dobey as Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson win

Michael Smith dethroned by Chris Dobey as Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson both win; The World Darts Championship runs all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – we’re back on Saturday at 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports Darts

Last Updated: 30/12/23 1:00am


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A look back the best of the action from the evening session of Day 12 of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace

A look back the best of the action from the evening session of Day 12 of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace

Michael Smith’s reign as World Darts Champion came to an end with an emphatic 4-0 whitewash at the hands of Chris Dobey on Friday night at Alexandra Palace.

Smith, who claimed the Sid Waddell Trophy for the first time in January, was humbled by ‘Hollywood’ with a 102.5 average and three ton-plus checkouts to claim a huge win.

World Darts Championship: Friday Evening Results

Boris Krcmar 1-4 Gary Anderson (R3)
Michael van Gerwen 4-0 Stephen Bunting (R4)
Michael Smith 0-4 Chris Dobey (R4)

Dobey dumped out Smith after producing an exceptional performance on the Ally Pally stage

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Dobey dumped out Smith after producing an exceptional performance on the Ally Pally stage

Dobey dumped out Smith after producing an exceptional performance on the Ally Pally stage

Dobey signalled his intent with a stunning 130 checkout to kick off proceedings, and after wrapping up set one, he doubled his lead after Smith missed a dart at tops to level the contest.

The Bedlington star then moved a set away from glory with clinical 100 and 87 combinations, before Smith struck back with a magnificent 140 finish to open set four.

However, Dobey was unfazed, following up a 14-dart break with back-to-back 12-darters to cap off another imperious display.

Watch all Dobey's ton-plus finishes from his superb win over Smith

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Watch all Dobey’s ton-plus finishes from his superb win over Smith

Watch all Dobey’s ton-plus finishes from his superb win over Smith

“Michael is a great lad. I’ve got all the time in the world for him, but there could only be one winner and I’m pleased it was my night tonight,” said Dobey.

“I don’t think anybody underestimates me; they know what I can do. I’ve been pretty consistent in this competition, and I’m going all out. I want to be the champion.”

Michael van Gerwen was in bullish mood ahead of his quarter-final clash against either Scott Williams or Damon Heta after thumping Stephen Bunting

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Michael van Gerwen was in bullish mood ahead of his quarter-final clash against either Scott Williams or Damon Heta after thumping Stephen Bunting

Michael van Gerwen was in bullish mood ahead of his quarter-final clash against either Scott Williams or Damon Heta after thumping Stephen Bunting

Three-time World Champion Michael van Gerwen whitewashed Stephen Bunting 4-0 with a 99.8 average and nine 180s to become the first man through to the quarter-finals.

The Dutchman has won all 11 sets he played so far in the tournament and 33 out of 45 legs with Damon Heta or Scott Williams set to challenge him in the quarter-finals next.

“There was definitely fire in the belly. We all know what Stephen Bunting can do. You have to show your best game,” said Van Gerwen.

It wasn't vintage, but Gary Anderson ddid more than enough to defeat Boris Krcmar and make the last 16 of the Worlds

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It wasn’t vintage, but Gary Anderson ddid more than enough to defeat Boris Krcmar and make the last 16 of the Worlds

It wasn’t vintage, but Gary Anderson ddid more than enough to defeat Boris Krcmar and make the last 16 of the Worlds

Two-time World Champion Gary Anderson put on a convincing display as the Scot proved too strong for Boris Krcmar with a 4-1 demolition job.

‘The Flying Scotsman’ put on the afterburners after losing the first set by winning 12 out of next 16 legs with a 99.3 average and nine 180s to set up a meeting against Brendan Dolan.

“When Boris won the first set I thought this was going to be a struggle,” admitted the 53-year-old.

“I got it back to 1-1 and the next two sets, the third set was tight but fourth set comfortable. The last set, I kind of had him.”

World Darts Championship: Friday Afternoon Results

Damon Heta 4-3 Berry van Peer (R3)
Jonny Clayton 4-2 Krzysztof Ratajski (R3)
Jim Williams 1-4 Raymond van Barneveld (R3)

Raymond van Barneveld says he's not worried about facing anyone including Luke Littler and believes he has the form to beat him

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Raymond van Barneveld says he’s not worried about facing anyone including Luke Littler and believes he has the form to beat him

Raymond van Barneveld says he’s not worried about facing anyone including Luke Littler and believes he has the form to beat him

Raymond van Barneveld set up a mouth-watering clash with teenage sensation Luke Littler after fighting through to the last 16 of the Worlds.

Van Barneveld was far from at his best but still beat Jim Williams 4-1 to secure a Saturday clash with 16-year-old Littler, who was born 21 days after the Dutchman won the most recent of his five world titles in 2007.

Van Barneveld told Sky Sports: “I will love to play Luke Littler. When I was 16 I was playing with Lego and Playmobile, we didn’t have the internet or whatever.

“This guy is amazing, and I am looking forward so much to that game. He is a quality player and I can’t wait to meet him tomorrow night.”

Ahead of their last-16 meeting at the Alexandra Palace, Littler proves he's always been a fan of Van Barneveld! Credit:@LukeTheNuke180

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Ahead of their last-16 meeting at the Alexandra Palace, Littler proves he’s always been a fan of Van Barneveld! Credit:@LukeTheNuke180

Ahead of their last-16 meeting at the Alexandra Palace, Littler proves he’s always been a fan of Van Barneveld! Credit:@LukeTheNuke180

Littler, the world youth champion, is the youngest player to reach the last 16 after reeling off three impressive victories, including averaging over 106 in his first round win over Christian Kist.

Jonny Clayton joined Van Barneveld in the last 16 as he saw off Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski 4-2, while Australia’s Damon Heta edged to a 4-3 win over Dutchman Berry van Peer.

Damon Heta sealed a stunning 4-3 victory over Berry van Peer by taking out this epic 151 checkout

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Damon Heta sealed a stunning 4-3 victory over Berry van Peer by taking out this epic 151 checkout

Damon Heta sealed a stunning 4-3 victory over Berry van Peer by taking out this epic 151 checkout

What’s happening on Saturday at the World Darts Championship?

Raymond van Barneveld says he's not worried about facing anyone including Luke Littler and believes he has the form to beat him

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Raymond van Barneveld says he’s not worried about facing anyone including Luke Littler and believes he has the form to beat him

Raymond van Barneveld says he’s not worried about facing anyone including Luke Littler and believes he has the form to beat him

The fourth round will conclude with Scott Williams and Dave Chisnall in action, while 2018 World Champion Rob Cross takes on ‘The Ferret’ Jonny Clayton.

Live World Darts Championship

December 30, 2023, 12:30pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

World Darts Championship: Saturday Afternoon Fixtures

Scott Williams vs Damon Heta
Daryl Gurney vs Dave Chisnall
Rob Cross vs Jonny Clayton

On Saturday evening, five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld faces teenage sensation Luke Littler with Luke Humphries up against ‘The Rockstar’ Joe Cullen.

The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final take place from January 1-3.

Live World Darts Championship

December 30, 2023, 7:30pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

World Darts Championship: Saturday Evening Fixtures

Brendan Dolan vs Gary Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld vs Luke Littler
Luke Humphries vs Joe Cullen

The sport’s biggest event sees the remaining players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. NOW Sports Month Membership: £21 a month for 6 months



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World Darts Championship: Nathan Aspinall and Josh Rock suffer shock early exits at Alexandra Palace

Ricky Evans stuns Nathan Aspinall, while Josh Rock is knocked out by Berry van Peer; the World Darts Championship runs all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – we’re back on Wednesday 27 at 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports Darts

Last Updated: 23/12/23 11:07pm


Ricky Evans stunned World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall at the World Darts Championship

Ricky Evans produced the upset of the World Darts Championship by crushing World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall in straight sets on Saturday night.

Evans averaged close to 100 in annihilating Aspinall 3-0, while Josh Rock saw his hopes go up in smoke as the youngster suffered a shock second-round exit to Dutch debutant Berry van Peer.

World Darts Championship: Saturday Evening Results

Ryan Searle 3-1 Tomoya Goto (R2)
Josh Rock 1-3 Berry van Peer (R2)
Stephen Bunting 3-0 Ryan Joyce (R2)
Nathan Aspinall 0-3 Ricky Evans (R2)

 Evans got the Ally Pally crowd into the festive spirit by walking on with the Christmas hit 'Merry Christmas Everyone' by Shakin' Stevens

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Evans got the Ally Pally crowd into the festive spirit by walking on with the Christmas hit ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ by Shakin’ Stevens

Evans got the Ally Pally crowd into the festive spirit by walking on with the Christmas hit ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ by Shakin’ Stevens

Aspinall became the 11th seeded player to exit the Worlds at the hands of ‘Rapid’ Ricky.

Following his traditional festive walk-on, Evans secured the first break of throw for a 2-1 lead, and he pinned double 10 to seal an impressive opening set before storming to a sixth leg on the spin to double his lead with a 104 checkout to leave Aspinall on the brink of an early exit.

Evans ended up losing just two legs in the contest, and averaged 99.38 with a 60 per cent checkout success to go through.

Berry van Peer stunned Josh Rock in the second round of the World Darts Championship

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Berry van Peer stunned Josh Rock in the second round of the World Darts Championship

Berry van Peer stunned Josh Rock in the second round of the World Darts Championship

Former world youth champion, Rock, went down 3-1 to the world No 107 Van Peer.

Rock was punished for six missed darts at doubles as Van Peer clinched the first set 3-1 despite an average of 84.

The Northern Ireland thrower then fired in a 107 checkout to force a second set decider, but Van Peer replied with a sensational 121 for a 12-darter to move within a set of a major upset.

Van Peer landed this epic 121 checkout en route to a famous victory against Rock

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Van Peer landed this epic 121 checkout en route to a famous victory against Rock

Van Peer landed this epic 121 checkout en route to a famous victory against Rock

However, 22-year-old Rock showed pure class to produce finishes of 101, 112 and 82 with Van Peer failing to land two match darts in the third set decider to halve the deficit.

But the debutant, who has racked up four Challenge Tour titles over the last 12 months, set up a clash with Damon Heta by taking out 48 to finish off 23rd seed Rock and continue his dream run.

Bunting praises the crowd after crushing Ryan Joyce 3-0 in a stunning performance

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Bunting praises the crowd after crushing Ryan Joyce 3-0 in a stunning performance

Bunting praises the crowd after crushing Ryan Joyce 3-0 in a stunning performance

Stephen Bunting put on a show with a magnificent 107.28 average – the highest of the tournament – five maximums and 9/19 on the doubles as he put Ryan Joyce to the sword in a whitewash victory.

“I’m so happy to play like that and show my potential,” said the former Lakeside champion, who faces German Florian Hempel next. “I’ve come here with a lot of confidence from my last two events, but I’ve played nowhere near like that.

“I’m a bit speechless, but I can enjoy Christmas now, go home, regroup and get ready for the next game.”

Stephen Bunting conducted the crowd during his entrance song 'Titanium' by David Guetta feat. Sia

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Stephen Bunting conducted the crowd during his entrance song ‘Titanium’ by David Guetta feat. Sia

Stephen Bunting conducted the crowd during his entrance song ‘Titanium’ by David Guetta feat. Sia

Ryan Searle overcame Tomoyo Goto 3-1 as he set up a mouth-watering meeting with Joe Cullen

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Ryan Searle overcame Tomoyo Goto 3-1 as he set up a mouth-watering meeting with Joe Cullen

Ryan Searle overcame Tomoyo Goto 3-1 as he set up a mouth-watering meeting with Joe Cullen

Ryan Searle set up an intriguing meeting with Joe Cullen after making it through to the last 32 for the sixth year running.

‘Heavy Metal’ hammered in four 180s and a spectacular ‘Shanghai’ 120 finish in his 3-1 victory against a gutsy Tomoyo Goto from Japan.

“I got there in the end. I was throwing back stage and thought I was going to come out and break some records…but it didn’t quite happen,” revealed Searle. “I got over the line, can enjoy my Christmas now, and I’ll be back.”

World Darts Championship: Saturday Afternoon Results

Kim Huybrechts 0-3 Richard Veenstra (R2)
Callan Rydz 2-3 Ricardo Pietreczko (R2)
Jonny Clayton 3-1 Steve Lennon (R2)
Daryl Gurney 3-1 Steve Beaton (R2)

Two-time quarter-finalist Daryl Gurney produced consecutive ton-plus checkouts to clinch a 3-1 win over Steve Beaton in the afternoon session, while there were also victories for Jonny Clayton, Ricardo Pietreczko and Richard Veenstra.

Gurney pinned successive checkouts of 132 and 136 to defeat Beaton 3-1 and end the hopes of ‘The Bronzed Adonis’.

‘SuperChin’ averaged 100.79, winning seven of the first eight legs before Beaton – who has announced his intention to walk away from the sport following the 2024 season – rallied, taking the third set after his opponent had missed a match dart on double 19 attempting a 155 checkout.

Daryl Gurney nailed two massive checkouts against Steve Beaton, including a 136 finish to win the match

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Daryl Gurney nailed two massive checkouts against Steve Beaton, including a 136 finish to win the match

Daryl Gurney nailed two massive checkouts against Steve Beaton, including a 136 finish to win the match

Beaton, 59, had the throw in the fourth set but it was Gurney who closed it out to set up a post-Christmas meeting with Evans.

Earlier on, ninth seed Clayton won a match of ample missed doubles, defeating Steve Lennon 3-1 – Clayton’s doubling success was only 28 per cent but Lennon, who is now in danger of losing his Tour Card, was way worse on 15 per cent, squandering 34 darts out of 40.

Ricardo Pietreczko and Callan Rydz exchanged some big finishes during their clash

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Ricardo Pietreczko and Callan Rydz exchanged some big finishes during their clash

Ricardo Pietreczko and Callan Rydz exchanged some big finishes during their clash

Elsewhere, ‘Pikachu’ Pietreczko pipped the seeded Callan Rydz 3-2, while the session began with Veenstra sweeping 2012 quarter-finalist Kim Huybrechts 3-0 in sets and 9-0 in legs as he set up a showdown with fellow Dutchman Michael van Gerwen.

Clayton will face ‘The Polish Eagle’ Krzysztof Ratajski after the festive break, while German star Pietreczko plays title favourite Luke Humphries.

Richard Veenstra thrashed Kim Huybrechts without dropping a single leg

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Richard Veenstra thrashed Kim Huybrechts without dropping a single leg

Richard Veenstra thrashed Kim Huybrechts without dropping a single leg

What’s happening after Christmas at the World Darts Championship?

Teenage sensation Luke Littler is back in action on Wednesday night when he takes on Canadian Matt Campbell with three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen and reigning champion Michael Smith also playing on a bumper evening.

World Darts Championship: Wednesday Afternoon Fixtures

Scott Williams vs Martin Schindler (R3)
Dave Chisnall vs Gabriel Clemens (R3)
Rob Cross vs Jeffrey de Graaf (R3)

Elsewhere, 2018 champion Rob Cross, Scott Williams and last year’s semi-finalist Gabriel Clemens will be among the high-profile names taking to the stage in the afternoon.

World Darts Championship: Wednesday Evening Fixtures

Matt Campbell vs Luke Littler (R3)
Michael van Gerwen vs Richard Veenstra (R3)
Michael Smith vs Madars Razma (R3)

The sport’s biggest event sees 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. NOW Sports Month Membership: £21 a month for 6 months



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World Darts Championship: Teenager Luke Littler defeats Andrew Gilding to continue dream run at Alexandra Palace

Teenager Luke Littler makes it through to the third round after knocking out the experienced Andrew Gilding; the World Darts Championship runs all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – we’re back on Friday at 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports Darts

Last Updated: 22/12/23 12:42am


Luke Littler continued his dream run at Alexandra Palace after recording a second win in as many days

Teenage sensation Luke Littler made it through to the third round of the World Darts Championship on his debut following a 3-1 win over UK Open champion Andrew Gilding on Thursday night.

The 16-year-old, who averaged an astonishing 106.12 in his demolition of former Lakeside Champion Christian Kist in the first round, continued his dream run on the Alexandra Palace stage by upsetting the experienced Gilding.

World Darts Championship: Thursday Evening Results

Andrew Gilding 1-3 Luke Littler (R2)
Danny Noppert 0-3 Scott Williams (R2)
Gabriel Clemens 3-1 Man Lok Leung (R2)
Damon Heta 3-1 Martin Lukeman (R2)

Littler was born in Runcorn, Cheshire, on January 21, 2007 and began playing darts aged nine.

He won the England Youth Grand Prix in 2019 and began to rack up tournament wins.

He became England Youth Open champion in 2021 and won his first senior title at the Irish Open later that year.

In 2022 he won the Welsh Open and this year notched further senior titles at the Isle of Man Classic, Gibraltar Open, British Open and British Classic.

The 16-year-old is a back-to-back JDC World Champion and reigning World Youth Champion. He doesn’t turn 17 until January 21.

Gilding nailed this 130 on the bullseye but still lost the opening set

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Gilding nailed this 130 on the bullseye but still lost the opening set

Gilding nailed this 130 on the bullseye but still lost the opening set

Gilding produced a stunning 130 checkout to level up the first set but Littler sealed it in the decider thanks to a 13-darter, averaging 101.36 with 75 per cent on the doubles.

Littler could not hold back his emotions after winning the second set

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Littler could not hold back his emotions after winning the second set

Littler could not hold back his emotions after winning the second set

‘Goldfinger’ then squandered a pair of set darts to make it all-square with World Youth Championship Littler taking full advantage by landing double 16 with his last dart in hand to double his advantage.

The 16-year-old continued his dream run at Alexandra Palace after upsetting Gilding

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The 16-year-old continued his dream run at Alexandra Palace after upsetting Gilding

The 16-year-old continued his dream run at Alexandra Palace after upsetting Gilding

However, 53-year-old Gilding reeled off a hat-trick of legs to halve the deficit as the doubles evaded ‘The Nuke’.

But the fearless Littler continued his remarkable run at the tournament by winning the fourth set 3-1 as he pinned double 10 to set up a meeting with Canadian Matt Campbell after Christmas.

Littler plans to celebrate his sensational win over Gilding with another kebab!

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Littler plans to celebrate his sensational win over Gilding with another kebab!

Littler plans to celebrate his sensational win over Gilding with another kebab!

“I think when I went two up I gave it a bit and lost all my energy,” Littler told Sky Sports. “I was nervous as it is, I don’t know how I got over the line but I’ve done it.

“I said to myself this morning, but when I went 2-0 up I just put loads of pressure on my shoulders. But I’ve done it.”

Scott Williams was 'gutted' about missing out on a nine-darter but was happy with his win

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Scott Williams was ‘gutted’ about missing out on a nine-darter but was happy with his win

Scott Williams was ‘gutted’ about missing out on a nine-darter but was happy with his win

Scott Williams came agonisingly close to an unorthodox nine-dart finish as he sealed a superb straight-sets win over seventh seed Danny Noppert.

Despite an opening 170 salvo from Dutchman Noppert, it was Williams who stormed into a 2-0 lead, and after taking first leg of the third set, ‘Shaggy’ struck six perfect darts before hitting treble 16, treble 19 but then landing his ninth dart millimetres below double 18 for what would have been the first perfect leg of this year’s tournament.

'Shaggy' just missed out on a nine-darter after just clipping the wire during his win against Danny Noppert

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‘Shaggy’ just missed out on a nine-darter after just clipping the wire during his win against Danny Noppert

‘Shaggy’ just missed out on a nine-darter after just clipping the wire during his win against Danny Noppert

Williams, ranked 52nd in the world, didn’t let it affect him, though, as he completed a 12-dart leg and he soon wrapped up the biggest win of his career with a neat 80 checkout.

Gabriel Clemens pulled this 140 checkout out the bag en route to victory against Man Lok Leung

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Gabriel Clemens pulled this 140 checkout out the bag en route to victory against Man Lok Leung

Gabriel Clemens pulled this 140 checkout out the bag en route to victory against Man Lok Leung

Last year’s semi-finalist Gabriel Clemens sealed a 3-1 success over tricky Man Lok Leung with 53 per cent on the doubles and three ton-plus finishes (140, 120, 120) to set up a last-32 tie against Dave Chisnall.

Australian No 1 Damon Heta breezed past Martin Lukeman with a comprehensive display to send out a warning to his rivals.

Damon Heta brings 'The Heat' in a bizarre walk-on for his clash against Martin Lukeman

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Damon Heta brings ‘The Heat’ in a bizarre walk-on for his clash against Martin Lukeman

Damon Heta brings ‘The Heat’ in a bizarre walk-on for his clash against Martin Lukeman

‘The Heat’ took out 68 in the deciding leg to edge the opener and he steamrolled the second in three unanswered legs to double his lead.

Lukeman upped his averages to win the third and halve his deficit, but Heta quickly took control of the fourth set with two breaks to complete a 3-1 win.

 Cross says 16-year-old debutant Littler had no fear after his first-round victory against Christian Kist

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Cross says 16-year-old debutant Littler had no fear after his first-round victory against Christian Kist

Cross says 16-year-old debutant Littler had no fear after his first-round victory against Christian Kist

Former champion Cross up and running at Ally Pally

World Darts Championship: Thursday Afternoon Results

Mickey Mansell 3-0 Xiaochen Zong (R1)
Luke Woodhouse 2-3 Berry van Peer (R1)
Madars Razma 3-1 Mike De Decker (R2)
Rob Cross 3-0 Thibault Tricole (R2)

Former World Champion Rob Cross got campaign off to a winning start in a comfortable victory against Frenchman Thibault Tricole in Thursday afternoon’s session.

The 2018 champion, who has not progressed beyond the last-16 since his historic title victory against Phil Taylor in his debut year, took out a finish of 114 to secure the second set, having trailed his opponent by two legs initially, and then went even better with a 126 checkout en route to winning the final six legs.

Rob Cross admits he wasn't at his best, despite coming through his second-round clash with Thibault Tricole

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Rob Cross admits he wasn’t at his best, despite coming through his second-round clash with Thibault Tricole

Rob Cross admits he wasn’t at his best, despite coming through his second-round clash with Thibault Tricole

But while one Englishman progressed, another dropped out as Luke Woodhouse finished on the wrong side of a 3-2 thriller against Berry van Peer.

The Dutch debutant suffered two bruised ribs after falling down the stairs and almost couldn’t practice ahead of his clash with ‘Woody’.

Luke Woodhouse and Berry van Peer traded blows with clinical checkouts in their thrilling encounter

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Luke Woodhouse and Berry van Peer traded blows with clinical checkouts in their thrilling encounter

Luke Woodhouse and Berry van Peer traded blows with clinical checkouts in their thrilling encounter

Madars Razma, meanwhile, also impressed in his second-round match against Mike De Decker. The Latvian triumphed 3-1 to set up a post-Christmas clash with reigning champion Michael Smith.

Mickey Mansell had opened the day with what in the end proved a comfortable 3-0 win over Xiaochen Zong in the other remaining first round tie.

Steve Beaton hopes to qualify for the World Championship next year and get the chance to step down on the biggest stage of all

Steve Beaton hopes to qualify for the World Championship next year and get the chance to step down on the biggest stage of all

In other news, Steve Beaton has confirmed his decision to retire from the PDC circuit at the end of next season.

“My full focus will be of course playing my best darts in 2024 in the PDC, and in 2025 I will be playing the World Seniors Darts Tour, which after turning 60 next April probably will suit me better,” said ‘The Bronzed Adonis’.

What’s happening on Friday at the World Darts Championship?

Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld headlines the action on Friday at Alexandra Palace

Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld headlines the action on Friday at Alexandra Palace

Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, Chris Dobey and Dirk van Duijvenbode headline the action at Alexandra Palace.

Live World Darts Championship

December 22, 2023, 12:30pm

Live on Sky Sports Main Event

World Darts Championship: Friday Afternoon Fixtures

Brendan Dolan vs Mickey Mansell (R2)
Jose de Sousa vs Jeffrey de Graaf (R2)
Krzysztof Ratajski vs Jamie Hughes (R2)
Dirk van Duijvenbode vs Boris Krcmar (R2)

Elsewhere, Jose de Sousa, Krzysztof Ratajski, Brendan Dolan and Dimitri Van den Bergh will be among the high-profile names in action.

Live World Darts Championship

December 22, 2023, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

World Darts Championship: Friday Evening Fixtures

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Florian Hempel (R2)
Martin Schindler vs Jermaine Wattimena (R2)
Raymond van Barneveld vs Radek Szaganski (R2)
Chris Dobey vs William O’Connor (R2)

The sport’s biggest event sees 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. NOW Sports Month Membership: £21 a month for 6 months



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World Darts Championship: Can 16-year-old Luke Littler make shock title bid after stunning debut win?

Wayne Mardle and Mark Webster believe it is not out of the question that “incredible” Luke Littler could be in the mix to win the title after a stunning debut match win; Teenager straight back in action on Thursday against Andrew Gilding live from 7pm on Sky Sports Darts

Last Updated: 21/12/23 6:22am


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Luke Littler showed skills and composure far beyond his years as he demolished Christian Kist and looks a genuine contender to win the World Darts Championship

Luke Littler showed skills and composure far beyond his years as he demolished Christian Kist and looks a genuine contender to win the World Darts Championship

Sky Sports’ Wayne Mardle has hailed teenage sensation Luke Littler as “probably the most naturally gifted player I have ever seen in my life” and believes the 16-year-old could go all the way and win his debut World Darts Championship.

Littler, the reigning world youth champion, announced himself on the biggest stage in darts in the most extraordinary fashion at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday night.

The third-youngest player to appear at the tournament, Littler stunned 37-year-old Dutchman Christian Kist, the 2012 BDO champion, with a stunning 3-0 victory which featured seven 180s and a blistering three-dart average of 106.12.

Littler fired a 106 average and posted seven 180s during his impressive win

Littler fired a 106 average and posted seven 180s during his impressive win

Having excelled at youth level and secured his PDC Tour Card for 2024-25, Littler’s debut on the senior stage had been highly anticipated. The emphatic nature of his maiden success is only likely to heighten the hype around the teenager from Warrington, who now faces 53-year-old compatriot Andrew Gilding in Round Two on Thursday evening.

“I can’t remember a better [debut] than that,” declared an impressed Mardle on Sky Sports Darts.

“I can’t remember someone going up there with such a swagger and just banging in 180s and hitting 11 and 12-darters like they are going out of fashion.

A look back the best of the action from day six of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace

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A look back the best of the action from day six of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace

A look back the best of the action from day six of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace

“I’m a darts fan first and foremost, I was watching it and I had goosebumps watching him. I love people achieving and that was a boy achieving something on the world stage.

“We may never see the like again. We saw it with Phil Taylor and then we saw it with Michael van Gerwen. This may be the third coming of that. I don’t know, but I’m a little bit carried away.”

Mardle, the 2001 World Championship semi-finalist, then added: “I think he’s probably the most naturally gifted player I have ever seen in my life.

“I have seen Adrian Lewis in full swing, Gary Anderson, Michael van Gerwen, I have seen them all.

“I don’t think I have ever seen the like.”

‘Why can’t he win it?’ Webster and Mardle agree Littler in title contention

Wayne Mardle is convinced 16 year-old Luke Littler is going to the very top and says everyone talks about his age apart from him

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Wayne Mardle is convinced 16 year-old Luke Littler is going to the very top and says everyone talks about his age apart from him

Wayne Mardle is convinced 16 year-old Luke Littler is going to the very top and says everyone talks about his age apart from him

Darts’ new young star will be back on the Ally Pally stage as early as Thursday night when he takes on No 23 seed Gilding, this year’s UK Open champion, as part of an evening session which starts at 7pm live on Sky Sports Darts.

So how deep into this tournament can Littler now possibly go? Sky Sports’ Mark Webster believes repeats of his “incredible” opening-match form could conceivably take him all the way to the January 3 final in a side of the draw that has unexpectedly been opened up by the surprise early exits of seeds Peter Wright and James Wade.

“That isn’t just a statement performance, that’s title-winning form, and he’s a serious threat in this competition now,” said Webster, the 2008 BDO champion and two-time PDC World Championship semi-finalist.

Asked how far he thought the teenager could go in this tournament, Webster then replied: “I’m going to get carried away with it: I think he can win the whole thing!

“You play like that on your debut, there’s no nerves. Look, there’s going to be a lot more coming at him, particularly in the next round. Andrew Gilding will make it difficult.

“Christian played okay but he wasn’t allowed to play and if he [Littler] does that to Gilding, that’ll send out another message. Then it’s the possibility of Matt Campbell next…if you play like that, you can win the title.”

Fellow pundit Mardle agreed.

“I loved what Mark Webster said [while] sitting here that he can win it.

“Why can’t he win it? Why can’t he win the world championship? Who has been better in their first game?

“He was pushed for a set and a bit there, he dismantled a very, very good player.

“I am just so excited because it’s the way he plays the game, it’s how good he is, it’s the fact that he shows you how good he is. He wants the crowd to be involved. There is absolutely nothing to dislike about the way [he plays]. He’s just such a natural.”

Littler on debut win: ‘That’s for you, Phil’

Littler fired a 106 average and posted seven 180s during his impressive win

Littler fired a 106 average and posted seven 180s during his impressive win

The man of the moment, meanwhile, had a message for 16-time world champion Phil Taylor after delivering arguably the performance of the tournament so far at the very first attempt.

“My debut, my first game, and I can’t believe how quickly I settled into the game,” a delighted Littler told Sky Sports.

“When I was walking on I felt a bit nervous but as soon as I found the rhythm, I was in.”

Asked where the win ranked in his short career so far, the 16-year-old replied: “[Tonight has] got to be at the top. I’ve been playing since I was 18 months old, obviously looking up to Phil Taylor. I know he’s watching – that’s for you, Phil!

“Absolutely over the moon.”

Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. NOW Sports Month Membership: £21 a month for 6 months



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World Darts Championship: Gerwyn Price breezes into third round with 3-0 whitewash of Connor Scutt

Hong Kong’s Man Lok Leung hit 11 maximums in a scintillating 3-2 comeback win over Dutch prodigy Gian van Veen in the first round; the World Darts Championship runs all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – we’re back on Tuesday at 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports Darts

Last Updated: 18/12/23 11:49pm


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A look back at some of the best action from Day Four of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace.

A look back at some of the best action from Day Four of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace.

Gerwyn Price dropped only two legs on his way to an emphatic 3-0 whitewash of Connor Scutt in their second-round clash at the World Darts Championship on Monday night.

Price averaged 98.01, wrapping up victory in less than 30 minutes to book his place in the third round, with only a mini wobble in the third set to perturb him

Welcomed on stage with the smattering of boos that traditionally greet his Alexandra Palace appearances, the 2021 champion played along with the reception, smirking away as he clapped the crowd.

World Darts Championship: Monday Results

Mario Vandenbogaerde 1-3 Thibault Tricole (R1)
Gian van Veen 2-3 Man Lok Leung (R1)
Martin Lukeman 3-1 Haupai Puha (R1)
Gerwyn Price 3-0 Connor Scutt (R2)

Behind Price’s calm exterior though was a steely determination to get the job done and he romped through the first two sets without dropping a leg.

Scutt finally got on the board to open the third set and he might have had Price briefly worried when breaking the Welshman as he threw for the match, forcing a final-leg decider.

But it merely sparked another gear in Price as he produced a 12-dart leg to break straight back, taking out 96 to clinch a most comfortable of victories.

Gerwyn Price eases to a 3-0 victory over Connor Scutt that will the Welshman playing again after Christmas in the third round.

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Gerwyn Price eases to a 3-0 victory over Connor Scutt that will the Welshman playing again after Christmas in the third round.

Gerwyn Price eases to a 3-0 victory over Connor Scutt that will the Welshman playing again after Christmas in the third round.

Price: Crowd were brilliant | ‘I wasn’t going to play’

After his win, Price praised the crowd while also commenting that that he pondered perhaps not playing in the tournament.

Gerwyn Price reacts to his 3-0 second round win over Connor Scutt in the 2024 World Darts Championship.

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Gerwyn Price reacts to his 3-0 second round win over Connor Scutt in the 2024 World Darts Championship.

Gerwyn Price reacts to his 3-0 second round win over Connor Scutt in the 2024 World Darts Championship.

He told Sky Sports: “I was sat in my house at 6 o’clock yesterday and probably wasn’t going to play the tournament. I wasn’t even on my way to London.

“It is really difficult to come here with crowds on your back but credit to the crowd. If they keep on like this, there is no reason I can’t win it.”

Price added: “It wasn’t my A-game – first-round jitters – but I am happy to get through… I played pretty decent.

“The crowd were brilliant. Last year they got on my back but this year they were brilliant. I was a bit apprehensive but fair play to them.”

Leung announces himself with epic comeback win

Hong Kong’s Man Lok Leung had earlier stolen the show with his scintillating 3-2 comeback victory over 21-year-old Dutch prodigy Gian van Veen, Leung throwing as many as 11 maximums in the match!

Despite missing a staggering 22 darts at double, struggles which dug him an early 2-0 hole in sets, Leung’s sensational scoring – averaging 96.26 – eventually saw him get the better of his opponent.

Man Lok Leung claims the victory over Gian Van Veen in a closely thought battle between the pair in the first round of the World Darts Championship.

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Man Lok Leung claims the victory over Gian Van Veen in a closely thought battle between the pair in the first round of the World Darts Championship.

Man Lok Leung claims the victory over Gian Van Veen in a closely thought battle between the pair in the first round of the World Darts Championship.

Van Veen, a European Championship semi-finalist this year – beating Damon Heta, Daryl Gurney and Michael van Gerwen during his run – wrestled the first two sets away from Leung thanks to superb checkouts of 116 and 112 in the fourth legs of both.

But, despite the deficit, Leung was never disheartened and he eventually made his superior scoring count, claiming each of the next three sets 3-1 to book a matchup with 22nd seed Gabriel Clemens in the next round.

Thibault Tricole made history when beating Mario Vandenbogaerde 3-1 to open the evening, the first Frenchman to compete on the Ally Pally stage winning on his World Darts Championship debut.

Tricole, a beaten finalist in the 2022 WDF world final, came back from a set down to defeat Vandenbogaerde in a real back-and-forth contest in which all four sets went into a final-leg decider.

In the first two sets, both Tricole and Vandenbogaerde let a break advantage slip, wasting opportunities when throwing for the set, with the latter taking out the first of two ton-plus checkouts on his way to claiming the first set.

Thibault Tricole throws his last dart to the floor despite winning the second set to level up the game against Mario Vandenbogaerde.

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Thibault Tricole throws his last dart to the floor despite winning the second set to level up the game against Mario Vandenbogaerde.

Thibault Tricole throws his last dart to the floor despite winning the second set to level up the game against Mario Vandenbogaerde.

But Tricole fought back, angrily celebrating winning the second set by throwing one of his darts on the floor, and he eventually battled through to beat the Belgian and book a second-round clash with 2018 Worlds winner Rob Cross.

Martin Lukeman made relative light work of New Zealand’s Haupai Puha in the remaining first-round clash of the night, triumphing 3-1.

Martin Lukeman cruises to a 3-1 first round victory over Haupai Puha as he finished up with 50% on the doubles and will meet Damon Heta in the second round.

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Martin Lukeman cruises to a 3-1 first round victory over Haupai Puha as he finished up with 50% on the doubles and will meet Damon Heta in the second round.

Martin Lukeman cruises to a 3-1 first round victory over Haupai Puha as he finished up with 50% on the doubles and will meet Damon Heta in the second round.

The Englishman quickly raced out into a 2-0 lead in sets, claiming six of the opening seven legs, thanks to his superior work on the doubles.

Puha battled hard to edge the third set 3-2, but it merely inspired Lukeman to take his game up another level as he swept the fourth to confirm his passage through to the second round where he’ll play Damon Heta.

Live World Darts Championship

December 19, 2023, 12:30pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

Live World Darts Championship

December 19, 2023, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena

What’s happening on Tuesday at the World Darts Championship?

Michael van Gerwen will be aiming to win a fourth World title

Michael van Gerwen will be aiming to win a fourth World title

Three-time champion Michael van Gerwen enters the fray on Tuesday, while Steve Beaton – making a record-extending 33rd consecutive World Championship appearance – plays Dutch debutant Wessel Nijman in round one.

World Darts Championship: Tuesday Afternoon Fixtures

Ian White vs Tomoya Goto (R1)
Ritchie Edhouse vs Jeffrey de Graaf (R1)
Keegan Brown vs Boris Krcmar (R1)
James Wade vs Matt Campbell (R2)

Four-time semi-finalist James Wade will headline the afternoon session, before Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki makes her World Championship return against Germany’s emerging star Ricardo Pietreczko in the evening session.

World Darts Championship: Tuesday Evening Fixtures

Steve Beaton vs Wessel Nijman (R1)
Mike De Decker vs Dragutin Horvat (R1)
Ricardo Pietreczko vs Mikuru Suzuki (R1)
Michael van Gerwen vs Keane Barry (R2)

The sport’s biggest event sees 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. NOW Sports Month Membership: £21 a month for 6 months



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‘A national unity strategy’: Inside Papua New Guinea’s bid to become the 18th team in the NRL

The sun has just risen, the humidity is already sky high, and the heat is beating down, but the Papua New Guinea Hunters (PNG Hunters) are barely bothered as the players sweat through a pre-season hit-out.

Australian rugby league teams know these brutal training sessions well, but there is another level to it in Port Moresby’s tropical climate.

The club has played in the Queensland Cup for the past decade, and now PNG is pushing for a team in the top competition.

“There is no other country in the whole world where you have rugby league as its number one sport; PNG has that title,” PNG Prime Minister James Marape told 7.30.

“It is our national sport, and it will do justice to rugby league for the 18th team of the NRL to be stationed out of Port Moresby.”

The PNG NRL bid board has already begun assessing the fields in Port Moresby.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) wants to expand the NRL within the next few years.

Perth, Brisbane, North Sydney and New Zealand would all like to be home to the 18th team, but PNG has emerged as the front-runner.

The PNG NRL bid board is in charge of turning that momentum into reality and is working on a concrete proposal over the next six months.

The board has already begun assessing the fields in Port Moresby and has just started developing a financial model for how a club would operate.

Putting the building blocks together

Earlier this year, the board worked with reigning NRL champions Penrith Panthers to develop a junior players academy, which the Australian government also invested $5.5 million into back in July.

“We [are] basically learning from Australian clubs to start to put those building blocks together,” bid chairman Wapu Sonk said.

“We have the right sort of ingredients to make it a very strong proposal.

“We have the population there which will be our biggest supporting base, we have Telstra in [the] country now for televising live across the country.”

Man in a navy suit with a white shirt and red tie.

Wapu Sonk said that Papua New Guinea has the right sort of ingredients for a strong proposal.(
ABC News: Craig Hansen
)

There isn’t yet a name for the proposed club, but the PNG Hunters is the proposed feeder team, developing young players who could then join the top competition side. 

The board plans to initially set up the club in Cairns and eventually move to a permanent base in Port Moresby.

“What [the] NRL is basically saying to us is that if there was a successful PNG team [bid], it would enter the competition in 2027; it could be brought forward to 2026, it really is subject to the NRL,” Mr Sonk said.

‘A national unity strategy’ 

Mr Marape is hopeful a decision will be made before 2025 — ahead of his country’s 50th independence anniversary — because the proposal means more to him than just another footy team.

James Marape wearing a black suit and a blue shirt with a black and red tie.

James Marape, PNG Prime Minister, says that 12 million enthusiastic rugby league supporters will be on board right away.(
ABC News: Craig Hansen
)

“In our country of many diversities, having a rugby league team will unite a nation just like Nelson Mandela united his nation behind rugby union,” he said.

“So in our bid to the NRL it will include that dimension, other team bids will not include that dimension, it’s just another sport for them.

“For us, it is not [just] sport, it is a national unity strategy.”

Australia also sees benefits beyond the field.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has vocally backed the bid and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade believes a “PNG team in the NRL would resonate deeply in the bilateral relationship”.

Australian PM Anthony Albanese and James Marape, PNG PM shake hands like lifelong friends

The two governments are in talks about a potential decade-long agreement worth more than $100 million.(
ABC News: Nick Haggarty
)

Dr Gordon Peake is the host of Statecraftiness, a University of Adelaide podcast that investigates foreign influence in the Pacific.

He believes Australia is onto a “winner” with a potential NRL team based in PNG. 

“Presently Papua New Guinea is at the centre of a game that is going on in the Pacific, where different countries in the region, Australia, China, the United States, France, India … are competing for influence in the Pacific,” Dr Peake said.

“Rugby league is part of Australia’s efforts in this game of statecraft that is going on.

“Let’s be clear about it. This is not just a selfless act, but I think that it is tapping into something that is definitely tangible and real.”

A rugby player poses for a selfie with members of the crowd, they all smile.

Dr Peake believes Australia is onto a “winner” with a potential PNG NRL team.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

The proposal, however, would rely heavily on Australian government funding.

7.30 understands the two countries are in discussions about a potential decade-long agreement worth more than $100 million.

“It is very crucial for funding support … we have very strong support from business houses so they will step in and eventually take over and replace that government support so it will be sustainable going forward,” Mr Sonk said.

“I want to give assurance to the Australian taxpayers and everyone that we don’t intend to be spoon-fed or baby-fed for a long time … we intend to stand on [our own] two feet going forward into the future,” Mr Marape said.

Australia already invests heavily in PNG and this financial year it is forecast to spend $616.2 million in foreign aid going towards measures such as infrastructure and border security.

‘The greatest untapped market for rugby league’

Dr Peake believes spending money on sport may garner greater support from the people of PNG.

“Most technical assistance programs are quite dry and mechanistic in nature that are meant to appeal to the head,” he said. 

“The difference I think with this NRL bid is that it’s in many ways trying to appeal to the heart of Papua New Guineans, tapping into Australia’s uniqueness when it comes to rugby league.

“Australia has tried to maximise the advantage that it has there by using something that no other state could actually bring.

“Papua New Guinea has two religions: one is Christianity and the other is National Rugby League. It’s really hard to overstate the importance.

A crowd of NRL fans is pictured, they are cheering. Some hold flags and wear team jerseys.

PNG considers rugby league its national sport.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

“Papua New Guinea is probably the greatest untapped market for rugby league.”

The ARLC is trying to increase the competition’s audience globally and will kick off next year’s season for the first time in Las Vegas.

It will have to weigh up if the PNG bid is viable and fits in with its expansion plans.

“The assurance I could give to NRL and everyone is that you brought on board right away 12 million crazy rugby league supporters behind NRL and behind the team,” Mr Marape said.

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