The Michael Smith v MVG Nine-Dart Leg And Sport's Greatest Mini-Moments

Michael Smith and MVG produced the greatest leg of darts in history last night...
16:00, 04 Jan 2023

It felt historic as we were watching it unfold. It felt like a sporting moment in time on the biggest stage of them all. As Michael Smith responded to Michael van Gerwen’s eight perfect darts with a nine-darter of his own in the final of the PDC World Championship, it was instantly crowned the greatest leg of darts in the sports history. 

And nothing comes close. The occasion. The magnitude. The accuracy. The crowd reaction and Wayne Mardle’s commentary was just perfect as the sport hit a new height.  "That is the most amazing leg of darts you will ever see!" Mardle bellowed into his microphone. Then he quoted Mick Morgan with an iconic "I can't speak, I can't speak!" 

After the greatest leg in the history of darts, it got us thinking, what are the greatest ‘mini-moments’ that have happened across other sports. From boxing rounds to snooker frames, we’ve done our best to whittle down the best.

Best Boxing Round - Diego Corrales v Jose Luis Castillo (2005)

We once lauded the tenth round of Diego Corrales v Jose Luis Castillo I as something that “should be taught in schools” Repeated viewings have done little to blunt its impact. The denouement to this 2005 lightweight encounter remains the finest stanza boxing has ever seen. 

Castillo had ‘Chico’ on the canvas just thirty seconds into the tenth. After nine gruelling, punishing rounds of action you would have been forgiven for thinking the fight was over. When Castillo had Corrales down again soon after, the Mexican certainly thought the fight was over.

But Corrales had enough wherewithal to spit out his mouthpiece, delaying the restart. Using those precious seconds to recover, the WBO champion rallied to wallop his WBC counterpart. A right hand set up a closing salvo from the gods. Corrales rained down righteous fury. Referee Tony Weeks waved off the greatest round, and perhaps fight, ever staged. Your winner: Diego Corrales.

Best Football Added Time - Watford v Leicester (2013)

The greatest stoppage time period in football history. It can only be Vicarage Road. In the second leg of the Championship play-off final, with only four minutes indicated the scorers were level on aggregate at 2-2. With 95 minutes and 38 seconds on the clock, Leicester’s Anthony Knockaert went down under a slight touch in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. 

One minute later, the anger surrounding the penalty had died down and the Frenchman got up to take it. However, Manuel Almunia was equal to his weak spot kick, and then denied him at the second attempt from close range. What happened next is almost indescribable, but Bill Leslie on commentary that day, did a damn good job. 

“Knockaert takes, Almunia saves. Knockaert follows in, Almunia saves again. Absolutely astonishing! Now here come Watford. Forestieri, here’s Hogg… DEENEY! Do not scratch your eyes, you are really seeing the most extraordinary end to a football match!”

Best Tennis Tie Break - Bjorn Bjorg v John McEnroe (1980)

Every blade of the worn Wimbledon grass was covered in a never-to-be-forgotten fourth-set tie-breaker in the 1980 men’s singles final at the All-England Club. While Bjorn Borg went on to win the match, John McEnroe came out on top in a 22-minute, 34-point ding-dong tie-break battle which is still talked about to this day. Borg, the unflappable baseliner, was pulled hither and thither by the fabulous all-rounder from America until McEnroe eventually levelled the match having saved seven Championship points. The rivalry went on to become so famous it was made into a movie in 2017.

Best Test Cricket Over - Freddie Flintoff v Australia (2005)

Australia had already won the first Test of the 2005 Ashes series at Lord’s, fairly comfortably. Heading into the second, England knew they needed to produce. They held a 99 run lead after the first innings but a Shane Warne six-wicket haul saw them collapse to 182 all out. 

The Aussies, led by Justin Langer, made it to 47 without loss, as they hunted down 282 to go 2-0 up in the series. But then, in arguably the greatest Test match of all time, talisman Andrew Flintoff came up with one of the great overs. 

The all-rounder was technically on a hat-trick having taken the last two wickets in two balls of Australia’s first innings. With suncream splashed across his nose his first delivery from was pushed away to backwards square leg by Langer. It was a warning. His second came in and skittled off-stump to get England off and running as Langer headed back to the pavilion. 

One of the best batsmen in the world, Ricky Ponting came in at three to steady the ship. Or so he thought. Flintoff’s next delivery struck the left leg of the new batsman, but umpire Billy Bowden ignored the LBW shouts as the ball was just bouncing over the stumps. But Ponting was worried enough as he edged the fourth just short of gully. Flintoff was finding length, swing and pace and his next ball was a repeat of the third. Off the Australian captain’s leg, as Bowden stood firm despite more appeals. 

A stare down from Flintoff ahead of the final ball of the over. No ball. But Ponting hadn’t escaped. He edged a plum delivery into the hands of wicketkeeper Geraint Jones and Flintoff produced the iconic celebration, stood arms aloft, accepting the adulation. It was a stunning seven balls that saw England win by two runs on their way to Ashes glory. 

Best Rugby League Play - St Helens v Bradford Bulls (2000)

There were two seconds left. St Helens trailed Bradford 11-10 in the Super League qualifying play off. One tackle, 80 metres to the try line. Wind forward 31 seconds and Chris Joynt was diving over in jubilation after a scramble play which had seen the ball go through 10 pairs of hands - nine of them inside Saints' own 30 - to spark utter bedlam at Knowsley Road. Dwayne West's assist and Eddie Hemmings' spotless commentary means the 'Wide to West' try will remain in folklore forever.

Best Frame Of Snooker - Davis v Taylor (1985)

Steve Davis went into the 1985 World Championship final as the red-hot favourite, and quickly established a seemingly unassailable 8-0 lead. He was dominant and Taylor, who was famously known for his upside-down glasses, was barely in contention. However, the underdog clawed his way back into the match, and after 34 frames it was perfectly poised at 17-all. 

The final frame was a nervy tactical affair, lasting over an hour. It still remains one of the closest finals we have ever seen but with only brown-to-black remaining, Taylor needed all the remaining balls for victory. Somehow, he pulled out a series of spectacular pots to leave himself with a double on the black for victory. After a quick prayer to the trophy, he missed the shot to win it, before the pair exchanged more tactical plays for the next five minutes, dancing around the black. However, Davis missed a key shot for the win and Taylor made it count, before holding his cue above his head in delight. 

Best Golf Putt - Tiger Woods (2008)

There are many contenders for the best putts of all time. Jack Nicklaus winning his final major at Augusta, Phil Mickelson lifting his first major with a 20-foot roll and Seve Ballesteros’s triumph over Tom Watson with his iconic celebration all deserve their legendary status. But like he’s done so much over the years, Tiger Woods must take another crown.

2008, Torres Pines. Woods was leading going into the final day after three days of limping around the cliffs of San Diego. A poor start to the day saw Rocco Mediate take charge of the US Open. Holes 13 and 15 saw more missed chances for Tiger but some incredible short game spared his blushes. By hole 18, there was just one shot between Woods and Mediate, with both men putting from similar distances. Mediate failed to make the putt but the wounded Woods stepped up, got his head down and drained a 15-foot left-to-right pearler.

In that moment, the two stress fractures to his tibia and ligament damage were left behind as he roared with the crowd. He forced a playoff and went on to lift the 2008 US Open. He wouldn’t lift another major title until 2019.

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