SCOTLAND overcame a scare against New Zealand in the Betway World Cup of Darts before claiming a 5-3 win to begin their challenge in Germany as pre-tournament favourites Netherlands edged past Russia.
The 32-nation tournament opened at the Eissporthalle in Frankfurt with the opening eight first round games on Thursday night, with World Champion Gary Anderson and World Grand Prix champion Robert Thornton having to work hard to seal their last 16 place.
New Zealand's Warren Parry and Cody Harris impressed as they took a 3-1 lead, with the latter producing a superb 125 checkout in the opening leg as they threatened a major upset.
The Scots, though, showed their class as Thornton took out 124 on the bull to win the fifth leg in 12 darts before Anderson finished 95 to level, and they also took the next two legs to move into the second round.
"Once the draw came out we knew we were in for a tough game because Warren and Cody are very good darts players," said Anderson. "Pairs is a different format for us and it's a hard game to get into because you only get one throw in three so you've no rhythm.
"It was a hard battle and at 3-1 down they were on a finish and the 124 for us back into the game. It was a sweet shot from Robert but he's back playing well and we can look forward to the rest of the weekend now."
Scotland will now meet Norway in Saturday's second round, after debutant Cor Dekker hit the winning double in all five legs as he partnered Robert Wagner to a 5-2 win over Gibraltar.
The Netherlands, who were sponsors Betway's pre-tournament favourites, were also pushed before sealing their second round place with a 5-3 win over Russia.
After Boris Koltsov had given Russia the opening leg, Dutch pair Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld took the next three to open up a 3-1 lead.
Both Koltsov and Aleksandr Oreshkin won legs as the Russians stayed in touch at 4-3, but van Barneveld - a two-time World Cup winner - landed double ten to seal their place against the Philippines in round two.
"The Russians were good and Boris Koltsov played really well but we didn't play as well as we can," said van Gerwen. "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."
Philippines pair Gilbert Ulang and Alex Tagarao defied the pre-tournament loss of Lourence Ilagan through illness to overcome America's experienced pair Darin Young and Larry Butler 5-3, coming from 3-2 down to win the final three legs without reply.
Australia's Simon Whitlock and debutant Kyle Anderson knocked out host nation Germany as Max Hopp and Jyhan Artut were unable to progress after reaching last year's quarter-finals.
World Youth Champion Hopp put the Germans 1-0 up and Artut gave them the third leg, but Whitlock hit the winning double in the next three to move the Australians clear before Anderson eventually sealed the win.
"It was tough playing against the Germans and the crowd but I'm proud of Kyle," said Whitlock. "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."
Australia now face Denmark in the second round, with the pairing of Per Laursen and 20-year-old debutant Daniel Jensen hitting five doubles from as many attempts in their 5-2 win over Scandinavian rivals Sweden.
2013 finalists Belgium moved through to the second round in style as Kim Huybrechts landed the winning double in all five legs alongside elder brother Ronny in their 5-1 win over Poland.
Belgium will now meet Hungary, who won through to the round two for the second successive year as Nandor Bezzeg and youngster Patrik Kovacs came from 3-2 down to defeat Thailand's Thanawat Gaweenuntawong and Attapol Eupakaree 5-3.
The first round concludes on Friday evening with the remaining eight games, including reigning champions England - represented by Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis - up against Spain's Cristo Reyes and Antonio Alcinas.
Betway World Cup of Darts
Thursday June 2
First Round x8
Hungary 5-3 Thailand
USA 3-5 Philippines
Norway 5-2 Gibraltar
Denmark 5-2 Sweden
Belgium 5-1 Poland
Scotland 5-3 New Zealand
Netherlands 5-3 Russia
Australia 5-3 Germany
Friday June 3 (8pm local time)
First Round x8
Czech Republic v China
Greece v Canada
Republic of Ireland v Hong Kong
South Africa v Singapore
Northern Ireland v Japan
Wales v Finland
England v Spain
Austria v Italy
Best of nine legs Doubles
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Hungary v Thailand
Nandor Bezzeg & Patrik Kovacs v Thanawat Gaweenuntawong & Attapol Eupakaree
0-1 - Thanawat finishes 66 on double nine to win the opening leg for Thailand against the throw.
1-1 - Bezzeg takes out 105 on tops to level for Hungary.
2-1 - Bezzeg again lands tops as he edges Hungary ahead.
2-2 - Missed doubles across two visits for Hungary allow Gaweenuntawong to level on double ten.
2-3 - All four players miss a chance to win the leg before Eupakaree hits double two for a break of throw.
3-3 - Six missed doubles from Thailand allow Hungary back in to level.
4-3 - Hungary move back ahead, and put themselves a leg away from the second round.
5-3 - Thanawat lands the game's first 180, but both players miss darts at doubles to force a decider, with Kovacs' two earlier misses at tops being avenged by Bezzeg's match-winning double ten.
USA v Philippines
Darin Young & Larry Butler v Gilbert Ulang & Alex Tagarao
1-0 - The Americans initially miss six darts at doubles, but Tagarao is unable to capitalise with two chances of his own before Young steps in on double two to win the opener.
1-1 - Ulang hits a 180 before Tagarao lands double ten to level for the Philippines.
2-1 - Butler hits double four to take the third leg for the Americans.
2-2 - Double eight sees the Philippines level.
3-2 - Butler lands double 19 to edge America back ahead.
3-3 - Ulang takes out 49 to level.
3-4 - The American pair miss eight darts at doubles across four visits to allow the Philippines in to break throw as Ulang lands tops.
3-5 - Both Ulang and Tagarao score 140s before Tagarao hits double eight to seal victory for the Philippines.
Norway v Gibraltar
Robert Wagner & Cor Dekker v Dyson Parody & Manuel Vilerio
1-0 - Vilerio is unable to finish 139, and Dekker steps in to land tops for the opening leg.
1-1 - Dekker misses two darts at double 16 to break throw for Norway, and Parody finishes 64 on tops to level.
2-1 - Dekker regains his range by landing double eight to move Norway back ahead.
3-1 - Dekker continues his impressive World Cup debut, finishing 114 on double 18 to break throw and edge Norway two legs clear.
4-1 - Both Norwegian aces initially miss doubles before Parody is unable to finish 83 on the bull, allowing Dekker back in on double four to move his nation a leg away from victory.
4-2 - Five match darts go begging for Norway as Vilerio keeps Gibraltar's hopes alive on double eight.
5-2 - Norway finally seal victory, with Dekker landing double ten to seal their place in the second round.
Denmark v Sweden
Per Laursen & Daniel Jensen v Daniel Larsson & Magnus Caris
1-0 - World Cup ever-present Laursen takes out 80 to win the opening leg.
2-0 - Laursen's strong start continues as he takes out 76 on tops to double Denmark's lead.
2-1 - Both Swedish aces initially miss doubles before Larsson returns on double five to get his nation off the mark.
3-1 - Five missed doubles by Sweden to level are punished as youngster Jensen finishes 62 on tops to move Norway to legs clear again.
4-1 - Jensen lands tops once again as he edges Norway a leg away from victory.
4-2 - Caris keeps Sweden's hopes alive by hitting double 12.
5-2 - Caris fires in a 180, but Jensen lands double 16 as he secures Norway's place in the last 16.
Belgium v Poland
Kim & Ronny Huybrechts v Krzysztof Ratajski & Mariusz Paul
1-0 - Kim Huybrechts lands double four to win the opening leg for Belgium.
2-0 - The Belgian star takes out 85 on the bull to double the lead.
3-0 - The elder Huybrechts brother, Ronny, lands a 180 before Kim takes out double 11 to move Belgium three legs clear.
3-1 - Double ten from Ratajski wins Poland their first leg.
4-1 - Kim Huybrechts lands a 180 and double nine to move Belgium a leg away from the win.
5-1 - Ratajski hits Poland's first 180, but misses two darts at doubles to keep their hopes alive as Kim Huybrechts steps in on double top to secure the 2013 finalists' place in the second round.
Scotland v New Zealand
Gary Anderson & Robert Thornton v Cody Harris & Warren Parry
0-1 - World Champion Anderson misses a dart at the bull, and Harris marks his World Cup debut by taking out 125 on double 16.
1-1 - Anderson hits a 180 before being given a reprieve for three missed doubles as Parry is unable to land tops, allowing Thornton in on double two to level.
1-2 - Thornton misses two darts at double 16, and Parry hits the same bed to move New Zealand back ahead.
1-3 - Thornton misses a further two doubles, this time at tops, and Harris finishes double 16 to move the New Zealanders two legs clear.
2-3 - Anderson opens the leg with a 177 score before Thornton takes out 124 on the bull for a 12-dart finish as Scotland hit back.
3-3 - Anderson finishes 95 on tops to level for the Scots.
4-3 - Anderson misses the bull to finish 135, but Thornton steps in to take out double 18 to move his nation ahead for the first time.
5-3 - Thornton hits a 177 to leave 24, and Anderson lands double 12 to complete a 14-darter as Scotland overcome a scare to progress.
Netherlands v Russia
Michael van Gerwen & Raymond van Barneveld v Boris Koltsov & Aleksandr Oreshkin
0-1 - Koltsov lands double eight to give the Russians the opening leg.
1-1 - Double ten from van Barneveld sees the Dutch level.
2-1 - van Gerwen lands a third-dart double 16 to move the Netherlands ahead.
3-1 - van Barneveld posts tops to move the Dutch pairing two legs clear.
3-2 - Both Dutch aces miss doubles to allow Koltsov in on double ten to respond for Russia.
4-2 - Oreshkin misses the bull to finish 126 which would have seen Russia level, and van Gerwen hits double ten to move the Netherlands a leg away from the win.
4-3 - Oreshkin finishes 54 on tops to reduce the gap to one leg once again.
5-3 - van Barneveld's double ten seals a hard-fought win for the pre-tournament favourites.
Australia v Germany
Simon Whitlock & Kyle Anderson v Max Hopp & Jyhan Artut
0-1 - World Youth Champion Hopp finishes double 16 to claim the opening leg for the host nation.
1-1 - Anderson misses three darts to level, but Whit posts double five to level.
1-2 - Artut punishes a missed bullseye from Anderson by finishing double ten to put Germany back ahead.
2-2 - Anderson lands a 180 before Whitlock finishes 56 on tops to level for Australia.
3-2 - Australia punish missed doubles from the Germans as Whitlock hits double ten to move his nation ahead for the first time.
4-2 - Double nine gives Australia a two-leg lead.
4-3 - Artut's 180 is followed by a maximum from Whitlock, who later misses tops for the match to allow Hopp in on double four.
5-3 - Artut misses double 16 to force a deciding leg, and Anderson hits double eight to seal victory for Australia.