Brilliant Bunting bowed out of this year’s Players Championship Finals after a dramatic last leg shoot-out defeat to Michael van Gerwen at the quarter-final stage.

Another exquisite run of TV performances for Stephen saw him come agonisingly close to his second major semi-final in a matter of days.

Following on from last weekend’s fine outing at the Grand Slam of Darts, the Bullet was once again firing on all cylinders in Minehead.

Frustratingly, and for the third time in six years, the former Lakeside Champ had to be satisfied with a quarter-final berth in this particular tournament.

Stephen made his intentions crystal clear from game one with a solid 6-4 victory over Mickey Mansell. A match in which he averaged ten points more than his opponent.

In round two, the Scouser was in sublime form, comprehensively defeating one of the games rising young stars, Gian van Veen.

What looked a tricky task on paper proved to be anything but as Bunting romped to a 6-1 win averaging a mammoth 105.66 in the process.

The Bullet then edged Kim Huybrechts at the last 16 stage in a thrilling 10-8 contest which saw the Englishman take the lead for only the first time in the penultimate leg.

Mighty Michael van Gerwen had already smashed the tournament average record in a devastating display against Ross Smith.

And that was the task that faced Bunting if he was going to achieve back to back TV major semi-finals.

Trailing 6-4 to the Dutchman after the second break, the job was made all the more trickier.

However, this version of Stephen Bunting is a different animal and he roared back magnificently taking five legs on the bounce to leave one more for a famous victory.

But sadly, the Liverpudlian was unable to convert and watched agonisingly as The Green Machine reeled off four consecutive legs of his own to grab the spoils.

Despite that, Stephen will leave West Somerset with his head held high after another positive string of displays.

Speaking after his quarter-final defeat, he said: “I feel I’m within touching distance of that elusive maiden PDC TV Major and knocking loudly on the door.

“Yeah I’m very happy with another good run but once I went 9-6 up against MVG, I’m very disappointed I couldn’t convert.

“But I’ll keep my chin up knowing I’m doing everything right to get my hands on a trophy very soon.”

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