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Six of the best Phil Taylor vs Raymond van Barneveld battles

Jamie Shaw in Off The Oche 5 Apr 2017
Raymond Barneveld and Phil Taylor pose before the Skol head to head challenge in Wembley Conference Centre in 1999 (credit: Jamie McDonald /Allsport)

Sport is defined by its great rivalries; Think Ali vs Frazier, Borg vs McEnroe, Celtic vs Rangers. Over the past decade, the rivalry between Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld has helped darts reach previously unthinkable heights.

Initially the dominant forces of their respective organisations, two worlds collided when Van Barneveld made the move to the PDC in 2006, paving the way for some of the most iconic contests in the modern history of the sport.

While Taylor has enjoyed the lion's share of success in this fixture, it has provided the Dutchman with some of the most iconic moments of his career, including a first, and to date only, PDC world title.

Taylor has seen off a clutch of darts' other greats, notably Eric Bristow, Dennis Priestley and John Part, over the course of his three decades at the top, but no one posed such a consistently close threat as that of the former postman from The Hague.

And as 'The Power' gets set to call time on his illustrious career at the end of this season, with it comes to an end the most iconic fixture this game has ever witnessed.
 
Here are our top six Taylor vs Barney show-downs...

Barney rules the world (2007)


Van Barneveld had lived up to the hype following his leap of faith from the BDO, and having already faced Taylor in four TV majors that season, it was almost inevitable the pair would collide in the sport's show-piece - the World Championship final. 

This was to be the last World Championship to be held at The Circus Tavern in Purfleet, but the show-down between Taylor and Barney would ensure its legacy would last a lifetime.

Taylor emerged sporting an orange shirt with the motif 'The Power Army' at the rear, and having also given away the throw despite winning the bull backstage, his immediate psychological edge transferred onto the board as he raced to the opening three sets without reply.

A 170 checkout, though, proved the perfect catalyst to spring Barney into life, and from there on in, he did not look back, reducing the deficit to 4-3 before finally hauling himself back on level terms at five apiece.

A 78 finish saw the Dutchman edge an eleventh-set decider to lead for the first time, but only for 'The Power' to return the favour in the next and force a fitting finale. Ten legs and four missed match darts from Van Barneveld later and the duo remained inseparable, prompting a nail-biting sudden death leg.

Van Barneveld improvised on Taylor's dart in the 25 by stacking his own into the bull to win the throw, and after Taylor had produced a timely 180, RVB followed up with a maximum of his own before landing tops with his first dart to seal a remarkable triumph.



Spoils are shared (2006)


A sell-out BIC in Bournemouth hosted the first meeting between the two players since Van Barneveld had joined the PDC earlier in the year.

The huge sense of anticipation was only amplified further on the night when Barney hit a magical nine-dart finish - the first in Premier League history - in defeating Peter Manley.

MC John McDonald welcomed the two players onto the stage with a boxing-style entrance and this had the feel of a major heavyweight bout.

Taylor had never lost a Premier League game and he quickly ensured that record would remain intact as he moved into a 7-4 lead with a guaranteed point in the bag.

Barney, though, rallied back in fine style, surviving one missed match dart at tops from his nemesis to reel off the remaining three legs and snatch a share of the spoils.



Malice at the palace (2013)


The rivalry between Taylor and Van Barneveld had always been one purely of competitive edge and born out of mutual respect, however tempers threatened to boil over when the pair collided in the 2013 Semi-Finals at Alexandra Palace, leaving Taylor contemplating a premature retirement.

The game followed a similar pattern to the 2007 World final, with Taylor storming clear into a five sets to one lead as his opponent appeared desolate and dejected.

Somehow, Barney found a second wind, taking the next three sets to close the gap to just one behind and with Taylor now cutting the shape of a man in trouble.

However, there was to be no fairy-tale comeback for the five-time World Champion this time as Taylor took out 68 to seal his place in the final, prompting a big celebration from the Stoke maestro.

As Van Barneveld moved in to congratulate his rival, Taylor reacted angrily to the embrace and the pair exchanged verbals before leaving the stage. 



Barney topples Taylor at the UK Open (2006)


The unique open draw format of 'The FA Cup of Darts' saw the two tungsten titans pitted together at the Quarter-Final hurdle in Bolton.

Barney, still searching for his first win over 'The Power' in PDC competition, again ensured he would have to do it the hard way as he watched Taylor open up a commanding 6-2 advantage.

The turning point, however, proved to be a crucial 84 checkout on the bull for a break of throw which led Barney to five of the next six legs for parity at seven apiece.

The next six legs would be shared, forcing a tense last-leg shootout at 10-10 on the main stage with Taylor first to the oche and first to a finish.

Three missed match darts at tops handed Van Barneveld a sniff at a 97 checkout, described by commentator John Gwynne as "the most important 97 of his career", and he duly seized his chance to claim a historic triumph which would ultimately lead him to the title that weekend. 



Taylor dominates in the desert (2009)


'El Dartico' brought the curtain down on the popular Las Vegas Desert Classic as Taylor claimed a fifth title in supreme style at the Mandalay Bay Resort.

Again it was Taylor who took the initiative, clinching the first three legs without reply, before Barney battled back with four in a row to hit the front.

The pair continued to trade blows up to 7-7, before Taylor put himself back in the box seat with three unanswered legs.

Despite his dejected demeanor, Van Barneveld would simply not go away and remained on his rival's coattails at 11-10 and 12-11 behind, before Taylor finally got over the line with a 104 checkout and an end average in excess of 109.



Taylor shows Barney the way at Wembley (1999)


The tone was set in November 1999 as the duo faced off in a game billed as 'the match of the century' between the PDC World Champion and Lakeside king at the Wembley Conference Centre. 

The match, played against the clock live on ITV, saw Taylor run out a 21-10 winner and £100,000 richer in being crowned the 'undisputed champion'.



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Six of the best Phil Taylor vs Raymond van Barneveld battles

Sport is defined by its great rivalries; Think Ali vs Frazier, Borg vs McEnroe, Celtic vs Rangers. Over the past decade, the rivalry between Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld has helped darts reach previously unthinkable heights.

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