Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld secured their second Premier League victories of the 2016 season, whilst Peter Wright sealed his third straight win to top the table at the 3Arena in Dublin.
Van Gerwen and Taylor sealed fine victories over Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson respectively, whilst Van Barneveld defeated the returning Robert Thornton in the final match of the evening. Peter Wright came back to defeat James Wade, whilst Dave Chisnall and Michael Smith contested the first draw of this year’s competition.
World champion Gary Anderson is still searching for his first Premier League points of 2016, after he was defeated 7-4 by ‘The Power’. Anderson showed glimpses of sheer quality, but Taylor was the more consistent, which eventually paid dividends.
The first two legs were shared, before Taylor held throw courtesy of an impressive 101 checkout, with Anderson lurking menacingly on 100. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ responded strongly, hitting his second maximum and converting 96 with consummate ease, before Taylor regained the initiative by pinning D18, for the fifth consecutive hold of throw.
Taylor squandered a wonderful opportunity to break throw in the sixth leg after missing four darts at D7, as Anderson levelled up at 3-3. Many thought this would be a turning point, but the 55-year-0ld held throw with D4 in leg seven, before finally securing the precious break on D8, having missed bull for a 161 finish in the preceding visit.
Anderson broke back instantly in the ninth leg, hitting a vital maximum before taking out 61 on D18 for a sublime 12-darter. The tenth leg was a dramatic affair. ‘The Power’ missed the bullseye for a 167 checkout, whilst Anderson missed the bull in the next visit for a 158 finish, allowing the 16-time world champion to return and pin D8 to guarantee a point.
This proved to be the decisive blow, as Taylor posted D16 in the eleventh leg to secure his second consecutive Premier League victory; his uncharacteristic animated reaction illustrated just how much this meant to the 16-time world champion.
Michael van Gerwen also won by virtue of a 7-4 scoreline, against previous table-topper Adrian Lewis. The world number one averaged 106.40, hit five maximums and boasted an impressive checkout ratio of 54%.
Van Gerwen made an extraordinary start to the contest, romping into a 2-0 lead with an average in excess of 120, but Lewis pegged him back immediately, restoring parity at 2-2 via D4.
Lewis went ahead for the first time in the contest in the seventh leg after a stunning sequence of visits. Jackpot posted a timely 180, before producing a clinical two-dart 85 finish for an 11-dart break. Despite this, ‘The Green Machine’ remained unperturbed, delivering an instant riposte on D16.
MvG was motoring; he again pinned D16 for a confident 14-dart hold, before winning his third consecutive leg after some sensational scoring. Van Gerwen recorded visits of 140, 134 and 180 to leave 47 after just 9 darts, and he completed this regulation checkout in two darts to guarantee a point.
Lewis appeared slightly bemused at how his stranglehold on the contest had suddenly diminished, but the two-time world champion almost forced a twelfth and deciding leg; wiring for the bullseye for an inspired 164 checkout. Michael exploited this reprieve, hitting D10 for a 14-darter, to clinch two crucial points against his close rival.
Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld secured his second win of the season, with an impressive 7-5 triumph over Robert Thornton. Van Barneveld was at his sublime best for much of the clash, averaging over 108 for extended periods. However Thornton, who recovered from a chest infection to compete in Dublin, was typically tenacious.
Thornton missed one dart at D20 to secure a point in the final leg of the match, but van Barneveld prevailed with an average of 102.60, whilst also hitting a remarkable thirteen 140’s, along with four maximums. Thornton’s checkout ratio of 63% kept him in the match, but Barney’s relentless scoring was the telling factor.
There was only the solitary break of throw in the entire match, and that came in the very first leg, as van Barneveld converted a fine 116 checkout on D18. Barney fired in his first maximum and took out D20 for a 13-darter to extend his lead, but RvB missed two darts for a double-break in leg three, having left 81 after just 9 darts.
Van Barneveld endured some double-trouble in the fourth leg, despite hitting his third maximum. Nevertheless, Raymond maintained his two-leg cushion by hitting D1. Thornton was gradually growing in confidence and the World Grand-Prix champion reduced the arrears to 3-2 with a fabulous 145 finish.
Raymond regained his two-leg lead with a cool 81 finish for a 12-dart hold, before Thornton fired back once more; this time on D6. The 48-year-old Den Haag ace was scoring magnificently on his own throw, and he established a 5-3 lead with yet another 12-darter, courtesy of a stunning 153 checkout.
Thornton was showing admirable fighting spirit to stick with van Barneveld, and he reduced the arrears to 5-4 by pinning D20. However, the five-time world champion guaranteed a point with a classy 87 finish, for a seemingly effortless 11-darter.
‘The Thorn’ kept his hopes alive by converting an imperative 60 checkout on D10 to force a deciding leg and for the first time in the match, the trebles began to evade Van Barneveld.
The Dutchman narrowly missed D20 for a magical 145 clincher, but he was handed a reprieve as Thornton missed one dart at the same target for a point, enabling Barney to return to post D5 and seal a thoroughly deserved victory.
For the second week in succession, Peter Wright came from behind to secure victory. After enjoying good fortune in beating Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 with just an 88 average seven days ago, Snakebite improved immeasurably in Dublin, averaging 104.48 and hitting 70% on his doubles, to defeat a gallant James Wade 7-4.
‘The Machine’ kicked into gear immediately, breaking Wright’s throw and subsequently holding his own, to establish a two-leg cushion. Wright opened his account with a fine 13-darter, but Wade held on D20 to maintain his advantage. However, this prompted the Wright fightback.
Peter comprehensively held throw in the fifth leg, before punishing a sloppy leg from Wade to restore parity in the contest at 3-3. Snakebite converted a fine 65 finish on D4 to move ahead for the first time, before clinching his fourth consecutive leg with a magnificent 161 checkout on the bullseye.
It was a remarkable turn-around from Wright; he guaranteed a point with a brilliant 98 finish for a 12-darter. Wade stopped the rot thanks to his third maximum followed by D10, but Wright was not to be denied. The Scot secured his third successive win in this year’s Premier League on D20, to condemn ‘The Machine’ to successive defeats.
Elsewhere, Michael Smith secured his first ever Premier League point, as he was held to a 6-6 draw by his fellow St Helen’s star Dave Chisnall. ‘Chizzy’ stormed into a 2-0 lead with an average of over 120, but Smith demonstrated admirable tenacity to respond, with ‘Bully-Boy’ reeling off three successive legs to snatch the lead.
For the second week in succession, Smith spurned opportunities to establish a 4-2 lead against his opponent, and Chisnall capitalised on Smith’s misses at D20 and D10 respectively, by posting D18 to level up proceedings at three-apiece.
It was a topsy-turvy tussle throughout, with constant shifts in momentum. However, with the score poised at 5-5, Chisnall seemed destined to secure a point after producing a commanding leg on throw.
Nevertheless, ‘The Yellow Peril’ lost his composure, missing four darts to guarantee a point and Smith stepped in to convert 42 and open his Premier League account. Yet, Michael was unable to seal his elusive first victory, in spite of recording his fourth maximum, as Chisnall took out 81 for a magnificent 11-darter to grab a point.
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