Rock & Rafferty celebrate Winmau Development Tour victories in Wigan

Josh Rock (Kais Bodensieck/PDC)

Northern Irish duo Josh Rock and Nathan Rafferty celebrated victories on a high-quality day of Winmau Development Tour action in Wigan on Friday.

Rock claimed the spoils in Event 21 to scoop his fifth Development Tour title of 2022, while Rafferty secured the eighth Development Tour crown of his career at Event 22 later in the day.

Rock now leads Rafferty by £1,650 on the Development Tour Order of Merit ahead of Saturday’s final double-header of the year, with Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts qualification up for grabs.

Rock was in imperious form throughout the afternoon at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, boasting a 100.05 tournament average across seven matches in Friday’s opening event.

The Antrim ace defeated Austrian star Rusty-Jake Rodriguez 5-2 to triumph at Event 21, averaging 95.85 and landing three 180s in the final to claim the £2,000 top prize.

Rock set the tone with a 12-dart hold in the opening leg, and although Rodriguez levelled after four legs, a clinical 105 checkout in leg five catapulted the Northern Irishman to a resounding victory.

The 21-year-old had opened his campaign with a stunning 109.80 average in his win over Charlie Manby, before firing in a 14-darter to edge out Jacob Gwynne in a last-leg shoot-out.

Rock also averaged 107 in wins over Keane Barry and Liam Meek, and after producing an 11-darter in his last-leg victory over Joshua Richardson, he dispatched Dylan Slevin with a 104 average in the semi-finals.

Rock extended his winning run to 13 games by progressing to the Event 22 semi-finals, only for Rafferty to curtail his hopes of back-to-back titles with an inspired display.

Rafferty celebrated his fourth Development Tour triumph of the year with a 5-3 success against Germany’s Niko Springer in the decider, taking out 119 and 136 checkouts in the process.

The former Grand Slam qualifier had kicked off Event 22 with a stunning 108.75 average in his 4-1 drubbing of Pim Van Bijnen, which he followed up with a whitewash victory over Keenan Thomas.

Rafferty continued his procession with emphatic wins over Nathan Care, Jonathan Parvaneh and Conor Heneghan, before sweeping aside Rodriguez 5-1 to seal his spot in the semi-finals.

The 22-year-old then produced a scintillating performance to halt Rock’s charge - averaging 106, registering winning legs of 15, 13, 15, 14 and 12 darts and sealing the deal with a superb 136 checkout.

Rodriguez and Springer produced a series of impressive displays in reaching their respective finals, while Dutch star Gian van Veen fired in four ton-plus averages across the day as he featured in back-to-back quarter-finals.

The 2022 Winmau Development Tour concludes with Events 23 & 24 in Wigan on Saturday, ahead of the Winmau World Youth Championship's early rounds on Sunday afternoon.

The World Youth Championship final will then be played on Sunday November 27 during the Cazoo Players Championship Finals in Minehead, as two players compete for £10,000 in prize money and the chance to succeed Ted Evetts in claiming the title.

The top two players from the 2022 Development Tour Order of Merit will win a PDC Tour Card for 2023-24, and a place in the 2022/23 Cazoo World Darts Championship.

The event draws and results are listed in the Match Centre.

Live match stats can be viewed through DartConnect.

2022 Winmau Development Tour
Friday October 7, Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan
Event 21

Bradley Brooks 5-0 Daniel Perry
Rusty-Jake Rodriguez 5-2 Nathan Girvan
Dylan Slevin 5-1 Gian van Veen
Josh Rock 5-4 Joshua Richardson

Rusty-Jake Rodriguez 5-3 Bradley Brooks
Josh Rock 5-1 Dylan Slevin

Josh Rock 5-2 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez

Event 22

Josh Rock 5-2 Gian van Veen
Nathan Rafferty 5-1 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Robin Beger 5-2 Connor Hopkins
Niko Springer 5-4 Dom Taylor

Nathan Rafferty 5-2 Josh Rock
Niko Springer 5-3 Robin Beger

Nathan Rafferty 5-3 Niko Springer