Unstoppable Rice claims Grand Slam

Steve Rice
Steve Rice

Steve Rice won the Bridlington Grand Slam darts final beating Andy Wheeler 5-0 with a phenomenal single dart average of 33.85.

The best of nine legs final at the Windsor Hotel should have given Wheeler a fair crack at the whip against the odds-on favourite but he was simply steamrolled by Rice.

The champion continued with the rich vein of form he had shown earlier in the night, hitting a 13-dart leg in the opening leg, followed by a 15-dart leg with a 156 checkout in the second.

The Rattler clinched the third with another 15-dart effort and although Wheeler woke up in the next leg with scores of 121, 125 and 100, he still finished second best.

In the final leg, Wheeler hit scores of 140, 100 and 122, leaving himself on his first double of the match, but he didn’t even get the chance at the double as Rice, who had missed doubles for 12 darts and then again at 15 darts, finally closed the match with a 16 dart leg to complete a stunning display of quality darts.

The first quarter final of the night had seen Wheeler take on Paul Straker and it proved to be a big ask for Straker, who after a couple of years absent from the sport, still managed to qualify as runner up in his group.

He couldn’t find that same form against Wheeler, who whitewashed him 3-0.

Next up was group winner Bob O’Neil against Phil Downsworth in the second quarter final and Downsworth led from start to finish with another 3-0 result as O’Neil just couldn’t find his game.

Gav Boynton versus Dean Thorpe was a much anticipated match between two newly-promoted Premier League Division One players with Boynton runner up to Thorpe in Division Two last season.

Boynton romped into a 2-0 lead, and although Thorpe grabbed the third leg, he bowed out 3-1.

Rice took on Steve Wood and on paper, it should have been a one-sided affair in favour of the seven-times Premier League champion, it was anything but as Wood put in a sterling performance taking out checkouts of 102 and 104 to level the score at 2-2.

The final leg was dart for dart all the way but Rice secured the win reaching the double first for a 3-2 victory.

The first semi final up was Wheeler v Downsworth, who took the first as Wheeler stumbled on the doubles, but he didn’t make the same mistake again as he rattled off four legs in a row to win the match .

The second semi final pitted Thorpe against Rice was sure to be a belter as last season’s Premier League Division Two winner up against the seven times title winner.

Unfortunately, Thorpe could only watch on as a bystander as Rice produced a vintage performance, spurred on after his close encounter against Wood, with legs of 14, 18, 17 and 17 darts with a single dart average of 30.36, winning 4-0.

And if anyone thought he had peaked too soon, Rice then improved further in the final.