The University of Sheffield have beaten Sheffield Hallam 4-3 to retain their title as Steel City Darts champions for the fifth successive year.
A packed out and rowdy Octagon Centre witnessed the triumph, as Gregg Batting, still recovering from back surgery for a slipped disc, sealed the victory for the hosts in the sixth game.
The evening got underway with Uni of Sheffield’s Adam Warner, a two time winner of the Uni of Sheffield’s Ham Cup, facing Hallam’s Dale Dennett, who is unbeaten in his Northern University Darts League (NUDL) singles matches this season.
With the legs even at one a piece, Warner upped his game to bag the evening’s first of two 180s in the third leg, before checking out from 34. He won the fourth leg to give Uni of Sheffield an early lead.
“I thought I was playing really well at the start,” he told Forge Press. “I bailed myself out with the 180 and 34. It’s nice to stick it to Hallam three years in a row. 3-1 every year.”
Hallam’s Jamie Flint took on Uni of Sheffield’s Joe Hopkins in the second game, taking an early 2-0 lead. Hopkins dug deep to pull it back to 2-2, but it wasn’t enough and Flint won the final leg to win 3-2, and level the score on games at 1-1.
Next up for Uni of Sheffield was Tim Close, who achieved last year what Hopkins couldn’t this year, overturning a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2.
He didn’t have as much trouble against Hallam’s Will Sturla this year, though, winning comfortably 3-1 to regain the lead in games for Uni of Sheffield.
In game four, Hallam’s Charlie Marshall faced Uni of Sheffield’s Conall Doughty. Marshall walked out to Kasabian’s ‘Fire’, had the word fire on the back of his shirt, and was cheered on by a Hallam crowd singing “Charlie’s on fire, Uni of are terrified”.
He was on fire, storming quickly to a 2-0 lead. Despite Doughty pulling one back, Marshall won the fourth leg to reach a comfortable victory and fittingly celebrated by putting on a fireman’s hat.
Uni of Sheffield made it 3-2 in the fifth, though, with an equally convincing performance from Tom Hogg, who had previously captained his university team to their first trophy. He swept away his competitor, Hallam’s Ben Laurence, cockily cupping his ear to the vocal crowd throughout his game and winning 3-0.
Fixture six was the big one. Uni of Sheffield’s Greg Batting, the only member of either team to have managed a nine darter in the past, was recovering from a back operation for a slipped disc. He faced Hallam’s Curtis Thorpe in the game which could decide the night’s result.
Batting did not let his recent injury detract from his performance, taking a quick 2-0 lead. Although Thorpe pulled one leg back, Batting showed his class in the fourth, giving us the second 180 of the evening before checking out from 35 with a three and a double 16.
With the scores at 4-2, Uni of Sheffield had won the tournament, however there was still one game to play.
Ritesh Deo, originally from Singapore, walked out in front of a crowd waving his country’s flag to face Kieran Fitzgibbon of Hallam, who won his game at Steel City Darts two years ago.
Despite a tight game, which swayed both ways with multiple missed checkouts, Fitzgibbon won again, checking out on 16 and beating Deo 3-2 to give Hallam some consolation despite their loss.
You can recap all the action by reading our live blog or watching Forge TV’s live stream below.