As fun as a last leg shoot-out is for a boisterous darts crowd, it’s no pleasure for a player on the wrong end of it.

And unfortunately for Stephen, that was the case as Danny Noppert took the honours in a thrilling contest to knock the Bullet out of the Cazoo Masters.

It was an event that began brightly for the Liverpudlian with a superb win over Nathan Aspinall, also going down to the wire.

It was Stephen’s superior doubling that earned a well fought victory over the Asp on that occasion.

However, against current UK Open champion, Danny Noppert, Bunting was unable to press home his 6-2 advantage and watched agonisingly as the Dutchman fought his way back into the contest.

Noppert drew level at 6-6 before the game went with serve until the very end.

Afterwards a disappointed Bunting said: “I had control of things against Danny and should of held on but my scoring began to decline and he came back at me well.

“It was probably a great game to watch and even take part in but you never want to lose the deciding leg of any match.

“As always, I’ll take the positives from the weekend in MiltonKeynes. Very happy with my win over Nathan who is a top class player.

“I have just under two weeks now to hit the practice board and relax before the opening pro tours of the year in Barnsley.

“I’ll be ready for them and hopefully have some strong runs.

“My game is there so I’m confident of a successful 2023.”

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