Scotland avoided a huge scare to beat New Zealand on the first night of this year’s Betway World Cup of Darts in Frankfurt.
World champion Gary Anderson and Peter Wright reached the final last year, but the Scottish team of Anderson and Robert Thornton looked in real danger of an early exit.
The New Zealand pairing of Warren Parry and Cody Harris impressed as they established a 3-1 lead in their first round clash, with Harris particularly catching the eye with a 125 checkout in the first leg.
Staring down the barrel of a first round defeat, the Scots fought back with 12, 15, 16 and 14 dart legs to sneak through as 5-3 winners.
Thornton started the comeback with a 124 checkout on the bull, before Anderson hit tops to take out 95 to level the match.
The number two seeds then took the next two legs to book their place in the last 16 and a meeting with Norway on Saturday.
“Once the draw came out we knew we were in for a tough game because Warren and Cody are very good darts players,” Anderson said.
“Pairs is a different format for us and it’s a hard game to get into because you only get one throw in four so you’ve got no rhythm.
“It was a hard battle and at 3-1 down they were on a finish and the 124 got us back into the game.
“It was a sweet shot from Robert but he’s playing well and we can look forward to the rest of the weekend now.”
Pre-tournament favourites the Netherlands were also made to work for their place in the last 16, as the Dutch pairing of Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld beat Russia 5-3.
At 3-1 up the two-time World Cup champions looked to be cruising into the next round, but Boris Koltsov and Aleksandr Oreshkin took two of the next three legs to close the gap to 4-3.
Van Barneveld then made sure there would be no nervy deciding leg, hitting double 10 to close out the win and a second round clash with the Philippines on Saturday.
“The Russians were good and Boris Koltsov played really well,” van Gerwen said.
“But we didn’t play as well as we can. It’s a bit strange for us as it’s the only pairs event each year, but we won and we’re into the next round on Saturday.
“We want to win but we want to play a little bit better than this and it will come.”
Former World Cup finalists and sixth seeds Australia also booked their place in the last 16, as the new pairing of Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson ended the host nation Germany’s hopes with a 5-3 win.
“It was a sweet shot from Robert and we can look forward to the weekend now”
Jyhan Artut and Max Hopp had enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals for Germany 12 months ago and made a solid start by holding their throw twice to go 2-1 in front.
But Whitlock landed the winning double in the next three legs for the Aussies to put them 4-2 up, with debutant Anderson sealing the win in the eighth leg.
“It was tough playing against the Germans and the crowd,” Whitlock said. “But I’m proud of Kyle.
“It was his first time and he was nervous but he did the job. We can improve a bit because we threw a lot of loose darts and missed a few doubles here and there.
“But it was a good performance I think for the first round. It’s a great start for us two together. I felt good with Kyle and I feel as though we can go deep in this tournament.”
Belgium, the 2013 World Cup finalists, also moved into the second round, as the Huybrechts brothers, Kim and Ronny, eased past Poland 5-1.
A last 16 meeting with Hungary now awaits the Belgians on Saturday, after Nandor Bezzeg and Patrik Kovacs came from 3-2 down to beat Thailand 5-3 in the opening match of the tournament.
World Cup debutant Cor Dekker impressed for Norway in their 5-2 win over Gibraltar, while the Philippines also produced a late comeback, winning three legs in a row to beat the USA 5-3.
Australia will face Denmark in the second round, with the pairing of Per Laursen and 20-year-old debutant Daniel Jensen seeing off Sweden 5-2.