For Stephen Bunting, the Graz was certainly looking greener as he came within touching distance of reaching the Austrian Darts Open final.

Speaking of things green, but for a certain Michael van Gerwen, Bunting would have faced reigning UK Open champion Danny Noppert for a shot at European glory.

The weekend began well for the Bullet. A Friday classic against Karel Sadlacek was an excellent prelude to what was to be a fine tournament for the St Helens man.

With the dangerous Czech being a very tricky opening round hurdle, it indeed proved to be the case. Fortunately, it was Bunting who grabbed the dramatic last leg of an exciting high quality contest.

Onto Saturday and another fine display against Ross Smith, winning 6-3 and once again averaging in the mid 90’s put Bunting’s name into the hat for the final day of action.

Faced with the talented young Callan Rydz in his last 16 match, the Bullet took full advantage of a misfiring Geordie, running out a 6-4 victor and registering a healthy 95.69 average.

Going into Sunday evening and the draw served up a tasty battle of former World Champions as Bunting went up against Rob Cross. Without either player producing anywhere near their best, it was the Liverpudlian who reached the finishing line first, edging out The Voltage 6-4.

The reward for that fine victory – a certain Green Machine who was perilously lying in wait. After seeing off a Czech and three English arrow-smiths, a pair of Dutchmen now stood between Bunting and getting his hands on the trophy.

But sadly, it wasn’t to be as. After a tremendous battle against MVG, Bunting fell just short.

Trailing early on, the Bullet did great to pull himself back into the match. In a race to seven, 3-0 isn’t the kind of headstart you want to give to someone – especially if that someone is Michael van Gerwen.

However, Bunting bravely got a foot hold in the contest and clawed it back to 4-3. But two legs later and the gap had once again widened to 6-3.

Back came Bunting with a hold and a break of throw to once again reduce the deficit to a single leg.

With the scoreline reading 6-5, Stephen had a golden opportunity to hang on to his darts and take the semi-final into a thrilling last leg decider. A good start was needed from the Bullet and when it didn’t come, MVG jumped all over it and got the job done.

For Bunting, he can look back on a fantastic weekend run, some crucial ranking points and a number of very encouraging performances.

The following morning, he said: “The long journey home begins and a moment of reflection too.

“Overall, I was happy with parts of how I played and I’m very proud to have reached the semi-final.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be against MVG. Although I gave it my all, I just couldn’t find the darts on my own throw. I feel a little frustrated with myself as I was always very much in the game.

“It was so warm up on that stage which added to my nerves but I handled it well.

“All credit to Michael for how he played and congratulations to him for winning the title.”

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