New Zealand's historic run at the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) World Cup of Darts in Germany has come to a crashing end, defeated 2-0 by Japan in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Cody Harris and Haupai Puha lost their respective singles matches to Seigo Asada and Haruki Muramatsu, ending a campaign that saw New Zealand reach the final eight for the first time in World Cup history.
- New Zealand create history at World Cup of Darts with quarter-finals appearance
- New Zealand beat Lithuania to reach World Cup of Darts second round
- Haupai Puha excited to represent New Zealand at World Cup of Darts
Harris suffered a 4-1 defeat to Asada, the second-highest ranked player on the PDC Asian tour, while Muramatsu held off a late Puha fightback to win 4-3, as Japan became the first Asian country to reach the final four at the World Cup at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg.
Asada was at his clinical best against Harris, with a 91 average, as 'The Ninja' raced out to a 3-0 lead, including an impressive 12-dart leg.
Harris took the fourth leg, after three missed match darts from his rival, but the New Zealander paid for two wired darts at double 18, as Asada sealed victory on double-four.
The pressure was then on Puha to beat Muramatsu to force the tie into a best-of-seven doubles match.
Puha won the opening leg, but things quickly turned in Muramatsu's favour, as he overturned the deficit to lead 3-2.
But Puha wasn't rattled, as he took out 76 in two darts to force a decider, only to see the Japanese ace finish first, as he again landed double-top to seal the win.
While the result was disappointing for New Zealand, Harris and Puha can hold their heads high, after leading New Zealand to their best-ever finish in the tournament.
In the first round, they crushed Lithuania 5-1 and backed that up with a classy 2-1 win over South Africa in the round of 16.
New Zealand's previous best finishes at the World Cup were in 2010 and 2015, when they lost in the second round to Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
Reaching the quarter-finals means the Harris and Puha split prizemony of £16,000 (NZ$30,584).
Both Harris and Puha will compete at this year's New Zealand Darts Masters in Hamilton in August.
Scotland went onto beat Japan 2-0 to reach the final, and the team of Gary Anderson and Peter Wright then outclassed the Repubic of Ireland 3-1 to win their maiden World Cup title.