PAUL NICHOLSON 5-2 Kevin Painter

Paul Nicholson boosted his chances of qualifying from Group A in the Grand Slam of Darts with a brilliant victory over Kevin Painter on Saturday.

The Australian star took two potentially vital points in the battle of former Players Champions in Wolverhampton ahead of further round robin games against Stuart Kellett and world number one Phil Taylor, who he faces on Sunday.“I’m very happy with that because there was a lot riding on this game,” said Nicholson, who sealed the win with a fabulous 125 checkout.

“It was an edgy game but I was glad I started well – I was very nervous because I knew what the game meant and it puts me in a good position.

“Kevin and I have become very close in the last few years and we practice together a lot, but he didn’t play his best game and I took advantage.

“Kevin’s a very tough competitor, he’s tough to beat and I did the job. The 125 shot to win the match felt huge, and it shows I can take out big finishes under pressure.”

Nicholson opened the match with a maximum as the first two legs were shared before an 89 finish put ‘The Asset’ ahead.

He moved two legs clear by pegging double four and cleaned up 86 to move a leg away from victory.

Painter was granted a stay of execution when he pinned double four but Nicholson finished the job in style, landing double top to complete a 125 combination.

By Chris Murphy