BRADFORD darts ace Joe Cullen was one dart away from qualifying for the knockout stage in his maiden Boylesports Grand Slam of Darts, live on Sky Sports.

'The Rockstar' had waited a decade for a chance to enter the coveted tournament, which he achieved by collecting the International Darts Open trophy in October.

It would turn out to be a heartbreaking debut though as he missed six darts at double to gain an important leg in his final group game at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

Despite, averaging over 100, he started the round robin format competition on the wrong foot. Germany's Gabriel Clemens shot checkouts of 122 and 112 to secure a 5-2 win.

Good mate Adam Hunt was the next opponent in Cullen's path. 'The Hunter' smashed three ton-plus finishes but a cool 164 finish in the ninth deciding leg handed the Wyke man a 5-4 victory.

With Hunt springing a surprise 5-2 win over Clemens earlier in the night, it meant Cullen did not have to win his last match, but win four legs for a passage through.

However, tests do not come much tougher than world number one Michael Van Gerwen.

The three times world champion has not had the best of year's up until now. Nevertheless, he has hit some form this week, only losing the one leg when dispatching Hunt and Clemens.

Cullen had to only hold his throw on each occasion in this decider to book his place in the last 16.

The Bradfordian got off to a decent start before being broke in the fourth leg.

He responded well to immediately get back on level terms at 3-3, smashing double five under pressure.

Although, it all went wrong when he returned to throw first.

The 31-year-old was in full control at one point. A 180 to begin with had set up a nice 11 darter.

After missing double 18, he opted to try and split the 18 only to hit double two.

Cullen then missed three darts at double seven and two at double two before Van Gerwen stepped in to complete a 5-3 win and give world number 92 Hunt a shock passage through.

Flying high after capturing a second title of the year in the Winter Series, when he beat Polish World Cup winner Krzysztof Ratajski last weekend, Cullen was gutted not to get through on his first appearance in the Grand Slam.

Cullen will have to quickly pick himself up from the oche with a first round tie against Hunt in the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals to come on Friday.