Top seed Brian Raman came through an absolute corker against Johnny Haines to win his Lakeside debut as the second round of the 2022 WDF World Championships continued.
The pair shared nine 180s and four ton-plus finishes in a 23-leg epic that was the best game of the tournament so far.
Despite initially finding himself two legs behind in the opening set, a run of six successive legs put Raman 2-0 up and within three legs of a place in the last 16.
Haines, who played well to beat John Scott in the first round, dug deep to win the third set 3-2 before repeating the trick in the fourth to force a decider.
The fifth also went the distance, Haines taking out big finishes of 101 and 92 to stay alive before Raman finally got over the line. The Belgian kicked off the sudden death leg with a 180 before finishing it in 15 with a sensational 121 checkout.
Raman, who recorded a 92.61 average, will continue his title tilt in Wednesday evening’s final game against Jarred Cole.
Earlier in the night, Cole followed up on his impressive win over Martin Adams in the tournament’s opening game by defeating Antony Allen 3-0 to reach the last 16.
A big 156 checkout to break the Allen throw helped Cole win the first set 3-1 and he went one better in the second, taking it 3-0 in 50 darts and going six darts into a possible nine in the second leg.
Cole’s eight leg winning streak ended in the third set, Allen hitting double eight to stop the rot, but he eventually wrapped it up 3-1 to claim a comfortable victory.
Allen, who was making his debut after a series of impressive performances on the tour last year, didn’t do a lot wrong but he just had no answer for Cole’s consistent power scoring.
Rhian O’Sullivan continued her impressive comeback to Lakeside after a 10-year absence in the second game of the evening, defeating Corrine Hammond 2-1 in an entertaining back-and-forth tussle.
Despite making a slow start in the opening leg, successive finishes of 68, 32 and 40 saw O’Sullivan take the first set 3-1.
The following two sets were identical, finishing 3-0 with legs won in 13, 20, and 21 darts. The first went the way of Hammond before O’Sullivan put her foot down to emerge victorious.
The Welsh captain will return on Friday with a spot in the semi-finals on the line when she faces Maria O’Brien.
In the evening’s other game, the 2016 Lakeside semi-finalist Richard Veenstra made a winning return to the World Championships against Romania’s Laszlo Kadar.
Doubles provide elusive for both players for much of the match but it was the Dutchman Veenstra who always seemed to find the edge, winning nine of the 11 legs played to seal a straight sets victory.
‘Flyers’ will be looking to produce a better performance in the last 16 against teenage sensation Luke Littler, who averaged over 90 earlier in the day in his 3-2 win over Ben Hazel.
Jarred Cole 3-0 Antony Allen
Rhian O'Sullivan 2-1 Corrine Hammond
Richard Veenstra 3-0 Laszlo Kadar
Brian Raman 3-2 Johnny Haines
All photo credit to Chris Sargeant / Tip Top Pics