Dutch Darts Championship - Finals Day

An emotional Josh Rock clinched his maiden European Tour title in Rosmalen on Sunday, defeating Jonny Clayton 8-4 to lift the Elten Safety Shoes Dutch Darts Championship.

Former World Youth Champion Rock celebrated his second PDC ranking title on a landmark night in the Netherlands, toppling Clayton to pocket the 30,000 pound top prize at the Autotron. The Northern Irishman lost out to Clayton in his only previous European Tour final in April 2023, although he avenged that result in style to move up to a career-high of 18th on the PDC Order of Merit.
Rock kicked off his campaign with a 104 average in his second round win over Dutch number three Dirk van Duijvenbode, before recovering from 5-3 down to deny Cameron Menzies in the last 16. The 23-year-old converted 119 and 145 finishes in a 6-3 quarter-final win over Gerwyn Price, and he booked his place in Sunday's showpiece by reeling off six straight legs to dispatch Martin Schindler.
Rock - who will make his debut at next month's World Cup of Darts - then capped off a breakthrough weekend with a battling victory over Clayton, to become the sixth different winner in seven European Tour events in 2024.

"This is the biggest win of my career, 100%," reflected Rock, who struggled to hold back the tears after celebrating his first senior big stage title. "I haven't had very good luck against Jonny in finals. He beat me on the ProTour and in Graz [in 2023], but I felt really confident coming into this final. "I said this weekend I was here to win the tournament. Jonny is one of the nicest men in darts. I love him to bits, but my name is on the trophy, and I'm so happy. "I have lost in so many finals, but I keep believing that I will win, and obviously today I proved that I can. "I have always said my next one was going to be a major title and that's my main focus, but I have proved that I can win on the big stage now."

Rock produced an eye-catching 142 checkout to steal an early march in a final that was dominated by breaks of throw in the opening exchanges. Clayton hit back with a trio of 14-darters in the space of four legs to level at 4-4, although the Welshman paid the price for missed opportunities in the latter stages, as Rock won the next four legs without reply to triumph.

"I had chances to stay in the game, but I missed doubles and Josh didn't. Josh played well," conceded Clayton, featuring in his first PDC ranking final since the World Matchplay in July 2023. "Josh has proven that he can do this week in week out. He's a great guy and a great dart player. "I am glad to be back in a final again. I'm glad to have a smile back on my face, and I'm on the right track now."

Clayton kicked off Finals Day with an impressive 6-3 victory against reigning champion Dave Chisnall, punishing 15 missed darts at double from the top seed to progress. The former Premier League winner then swept aside Ryan Searle in the last eight, before recovering from 4-0 and 6-4 down to stun home favourite Michael van Gerwen in a gripping last-leg shoot-out.

Dutch icon Van Gerwen was denied a second title on home soil in 2024, despite conceding just two legs in advancing to the semi-finals. The three-time World Champion whitewashed his compatriot Kevin Doets in Saturday's second round, before averaging 103 and 101 in crushing 6-1 victories over Chris Dobey and Danny Noppert on Finals Day.

Schindler - a winner at the International Darts Open in April - overcame Brendan Dolan, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Luke Woodhouse in his run to the last four, averaging 106 to deny Woodhouse in a thrilling quarter-final.

Price also produced ton-plus averages in wins over Mickey Mansell and Gian van Veen to reach the last eight, while Noppert defeated his fellow countryman Jermaine Wattimena to continue his big stage consistency.
Searle breezed past Dutch-born Swede Jeffrey de Graaf in Sunday afternoon's last 16, before losing out in the quarter-finals for the fourth time in seven European Tour events.

The PDC European Tour returns next month, as the NEO.bet European Darts Open takes place at the Ostermann-Arena, Leverkusen from June 21-23. The tournament will be broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers' websites worldwide.

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