Michael van Gerwen produced another extraordinary performance to dismantle Peter Wright and head to the top of the Premier League table at the Westpoint Arena in Exeter on Thursday night. Van Gerwen averaged an incredible 116.67 and hit 7 out of 8 on the doubles as he thrashed Snakebite 7-2, despite Wright averaging 109 himself.
Van Gerwen memorably broke the televised world record last week by averaging 123.40 in a 7-1 rout over Michael Smith and at one stage he was averaging over 120 once more. The world number one is throwing the best darts ever seen at present; sealing his fourth consecutive league victory in the process.
Wright kicked off proceedings and held throw in commanding fashion, converting a regulation 60 checkout for a 14-darter. The Scot then posted his first maximum to pressure van Gerwen’s throw, but the Dutchman was unperturbed and took out 76 on D18 to draw level.
The 26-year-old from Boxtel appeared poised to clinch his fourth consecutive leg, but Wright reduced the arrears to 3-2 with a fabulous 121 checkout culminating on the bullseye. However, van Gerwen responded absolutely magnificently, restoring his two-leg advantage with an inspired 10-dart hold.
The Dutchman was just relentless and he maintained his perfect record on the doubles with a classy 81 checkout on the bull for another tremendous 12-darter. His unblemished record on the doubles was finally broken in the eighth leg, but he still converted 94 for a second straight 12-darter, having posted a score of 171 in the preceding visit.
In the ninth leg, van Gerwen required 65 after 12 darts and despite an uncharacteristic poor dart thrown in the single 1, MvG regathered himself and completed the victory on D11. It was another ruthlessly proficient performance from the 2013 world champion, who is simply head and shoulders above the rest of the field at the moment.
However, Phil Taylor is hot on van Gerwen’s heels, having also secured his fourth straight league victory, courtesy of a 7-1 rout against Adrian Lewis. Taylor averaged 105 and was sensational in the scoring department, ending with a first 9-dart average of 120.
The decisive turning points came in both the second and fourth legs. Lewis missed two darts for a 63 checkout in leg two, before Jackpot spurned five darts at double in the fourth leg. Suddenly, Taylor had romped into an almost unassailable 4-0 cushion and ‘The Power’ never relented.
Lewis managed to avoid the whitewash by posting D4 to reduce the arrears to 5-1, but Taylor secured an emphatic 7-1 triumph with an accomplished 84 kill on D12, having recorded a fine 13-darter in the previous leg.
Elsewhere, defending Premier League champion Gary Anderson recorded his second straight victory after coming from behind to defeat his compatriot Robert Thornton, who is still searching for his first win of the campaign.
The world champion made an abject start, falling 3-0 behind with an average of below 80, but Anderson improved as the contest progressed, winning seven of the last eight legs to seal a hard-fought 7-4 victory. The Flying Scotsman could only boast a modest 87 average, but he showed impressive tenacity to avert his shocking start.
Michael Smith secured his first ever Premier League victory after coming from behind to beat five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld. It was a topsy-turvy battle, but van Barneveld looked to have seized the initiative as he went ahead for the first time in the ninth leg, by virtue of a clinical 116 checkout, for a 5-4 lead.
Nevertheless, Smith showed tremendous character to rally and secure an unlikely victory. He broke Barney’s throw instantly, with a terrific 90 finish for an 11-darter, before guaranteeing a point on D10. The twelfth and final leg was a nervous affair, but Smith sealed victory with a fine 62 checkout culminating on his favourite D20.
Finally, James Wade secured his third win of the 2016 season against Dave Chisnall, as ‘The Machine’ managed to halt his three-game losing streak. Wade scored superbly throughout the contest, averaging over 102 and hitting four maximums. Yet, his finishing was the decisive factor. Wade took out shots of 121, 161 and 102, en route to a 7-4 win.
Next week, table-topper Michael van Gerwen takes on Dave Chisnall, whilst Phil Taylor goes in search of a fifth successive win against Robert Thornton, who is still awaiting his first victory of the season. Gary Anderson takes on his protege Michael Smith, Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright lock horns, whilst James Wade meets Raymond van Barneveld.
Betway Premier League
Night Five – March 3
Westpoint Arena, Exeter
Phil Taylor 7-1 Adrian Lewis
Dave Chisnall 4-7 James Wade
Robert Thornton 1-4 Gary Anderson
Peter Wright 2-7 Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith 7-5 Raymond van Barneveld
|Following Night Five||P||W||D||L||+/-||LWAT||Pts|
|Michael van Gerwen||5||4||0||1||+15||13||8|
|Raymond van Barneveld||5||2||0||3||-1||8||4|