After fun and games with lost luggage in Germany, Stephen must have been relieved to know that his suitcase would on this occasion be travelling within the safety of his manager’s car boot as the pair headed to Barnsley for the next round of PDC events.

A four day slog awaited in sunny South Yorkshire with a trio of Players Championship events and a brace of European qualifiers.

Disappointingly for the Bullet, things didn’t get off to the ideal start as defeat to Jeffrey Sparidaans in a last leg shoot-out ended day one without a cent.

However, in typical scouse resolve, Stephen bounced back quickly the next day and enjoyed a positive run to the last 16.

Aussie Simon Whitlock was to first to fall followed by a quite brilliant performance to defeat Maik Kuivenhoven with Bunting’s average coming in at just under 107.

The former Lakeside Champion then put in another superb ton plus display to overcome the enigmatic Welshman, Richie Burnett 6-2.

But frustratingly, in what was a high quality encounter, Rob Cross pipped Steve to the post, grabbing the last leg of what was a thrilling match.

And the third and final Players Championship of the trip ended in a narrow board final loss to Peter Wright after 6-4 victories over Adam Warner and Ross Montgomery.

Onto the qualifiers and Stephen ensured another trip to Hildesheim for the final European Event on the calendar courtesy of wins over Jimmy Hendriks and Kevin Burness. Let’s hope the return to that particular German isn’t fraught with the same dramatic luggage debacle as last weekend!

Unfortunately, defeat to Gian van Veen meant there will be no appearance at the World Series in Amsterdam though as the young Dutchman comfortably got the better of a non firing Bullet to win 6-1.

Afterwards Stephen reflected on a gruelling marathon run in Barnsley saying: “Some up and down results but I felt apart from one of two games, my performances were there – especially on day two.

“Always nice to qualify for a Euro Event. Of course it would have been great to make the World Series finals too but I just couldn’t get going and Gian [Van Veen] thoroughly deserved the win.

Things start to get pretty hectic from here on in but I feel my game is in a very good place and I’m excited to see what happens between now and the end of the year.”

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