It was yet another weekend of mixed fortunes for the Bullet in Barnsley.

Absolutely nothing wrong with the shots Bunting is firing with only a few narrowly missing their target.

On day one in South Yorkshire, the Liverpudlian produced a record pro-tour average as he opened up proceedings registering a colossal 113.27 during a 6-2 victory over Maik Kuivenhoven.

Leading the Dutchman 3-2, Stephen then rattled off the final three legs in 11,12 and 11 darts – scintillating stuff alright.

Disappointingly, he was unable to reproduce those astronomical heights in round two and despite a very healthy 91.07 average, it wasn’t enough to get the better of Mickey Mansell who ran out a 6-3 victor.

However, day two was much more fruitful for the 37-year old as he surged into yet another Players Championship quarter-final.

A comfortable opening win over Luke Woodhouse was followed up with a dramatic last leg shoot-out to see off Canadian, Matt Campbell.

The trend continued in the board final as Geert Nentjes succumbed. Bunt-ing then put in an excellent performance to snatch a 6-4 victory over re-cently crowned European Champion, Ross Smith.

But eventually in the last eight, it was the evergreen Steve Beaton who fi-nally put pay to Stephen’s title hopes as the battle of the former Lakeside Champions went the way of the Bronzed Adonis.

There was still a small matter of the Grand Slam of Darts qualification on the Sunday. Frustratingly though, Bunting hit the post in the last minute of the match as Alan Soutar grabbed the dramatic final leg of an epic contest to take his place in Wolverhampton next week.

Afterwards, Stephen reflected: “Gutted to come so close to qualifying for the Grand Slam. Fair play to Alan [Soutar], he played very well but when you miss the chance to make it to a major tournament in a final leg decider it hurts.

“But once again, I have a lot of things to be positive about. I didn’t aver-age below 90 on any of my matches over the weekend, made it to another quarter-final and hit a record pro-tour average.

“I know I keep saying this but my form is there. I just need to be more clinical at the right moments. It will come – I am very confident of that.

“Looking forward to Minehead now for the Players Championship Finals before the big one at Alexandra Palace next month.”

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