Just as the Bullet was planning a rare weekend at home, with certainly one eye on watching his beloved Liverpool play, the phone call came.

As first reserve for the Austrian Darts Open, that’s exactly what it says on the tin. If one player drops out then it’s off to Graz Stephen goes.

So when Jim Williams withdrew, it was bag packing time and a Friday morning flight over to Austria.

Once there, Stephen would have preferred an extra few days stay, ideally returning to St Helens with a maiden European Tour title to his name. Daryl Gurney had other ideas.

In Bunting’s defence, an extremely credible 95.80 average would win more matches than not, especially if your opponent registers five points less.

But on this occasion, it was Superchin who took his opportunities the better of the pair and ran out a 6-3 victor.

Reflecting upon a hectic few days, Stephen said: “Yes, it’s never ideal preparation to be called up late but I worked hard to be in that position and knew it was always a realistic possibility of getting the call up.

I felt that I played well enough to win but didn’t take my chances and he did. Pretty much the tale of the tape.

“We play these best of eleven matches often so there’s little room for error in such a short format.

“But I enjoyed the occasion, will just chalk it down to experience and bounce back stronger.”

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