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Raymond van Barneveld reached the last 16 of the World Darts Championship after coming out on top in a thrilling clash with Jamie Caven on Friday night.

The five-time World Champion fired in the highest three-dart-average of the tournament so far, finishing on over 99 as he progressed to round three.

But it was far from easy for ‘Barney’ against the impressive Caven, who was the width of the wire away from hitting the tournament’s third nine-darter.

“Jamie kept me under pressure so I’m very relieved to be through,” admitted the Dutch ace, who reached the semi-finals least year.

“I can enjoy Christmas now. I’m very happy. It was a close game but I enjoyed it and it puts me in a good position for the next match because it wasn’t easy.”

Caven won the first set with ‘Barney’ unable to break his throw after missing tops in the first and final legs of the for a pair of 120 checkouts.

The Dutchman won the next set with the aid of 101 and 74 finishes to level the match.

He then moved in front with more fine finishing, taking out shots of 70, 81 and 86 to edge the third set 3-2, hitting his first 180 in the process.

His second and third maximums soon followed as van Barneveld moved into a two-leg-lead in set four but Caven hit back, taking three straight legs to tie up the match at two sets apiece, narrowly missing double twelve for a nine-darter in the decisive leg.

Caven took the fifth set 3-2 but ‘Barney’ reeled off three straight legs to seal the sixth and set up a decider, which van Barneveld won 3-1.

He will now face John Henderson or Mark Webster for a place in the quarter-finals.

By Chris Murphy

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