TAUNTON'S Justin Pipe squeezed past New Zealander Bernie Smith in the opening round of the PDC World Darts Championship last night in a gruelling contest, writes Josh Green.

Pipe has endured a dip in form in recent years, and needed all five sets to set up a meeting with Phil Taylor in round two, which will take place on Saturday evening.

Pipe opened the contest in specular form with a whitewash set to open the final match of the night, ‘The Force’ taking out double eight to take the early advantage.

The second set seemed to be going in a similar fashion as Pipe took out 90, but Smith, who had won a preliminary match earlier in the night, levelled the set.

Unfortunately for the Kiwi, Pipe then hit his first maximum of the evening and kept up his outstanding checkout percentage to close out the set 3-1.

As the match seemed to be getting away from the 53-year-old Smith, he sparked into action and a 180 followed by a smooth double eight shot gave him the lead in set three.

Pipe’s clinicality on the doubles would continue though, pouncing on double eight after Smith had missed six darts at double. But Smith would have his comeuppance, two consecutive legs halving the deficit.

As the Alexandra Palace crowd rallied behind the likable Kiwi, he continued his momentum taking the opening two legs of the fourth set. Pipe sparked back into action with a 12-darter and some excellent finishing to level the set, but Smith would hold his nerve on throw to take the match to the decider.

Smith took the lead for the first time in the match as he checked out 83 to put Pipe on the back foot. This pattern would continue as two further breaks of throw put Smith within a leg of round two, and a meeting with 'The Power'.

The match would eventually go to sudden death with the players locked at two legs all in the final set. However, Pipe’s experience showed as he sealed the deal with the two legs on the spin to end an exhausting test.