The St Helen’s duo of Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall were eliminated from the 2016 Premier League on Judgement Night, whilst Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen shared the spoils in a thrilling encounter at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena on Thursday evening.
Van Gerwen averaged 105.59 as he fought back from 6-3 down to claim a point against Van Barneveld, who averaged 101.69 himself. MvG claimed the opening leg of the contest with a terrific 86 checkout, but Raymond responded magnificently, levelling up on D6, before posting legs of 13, 12 and 15 to establish a commanding 4-1 cushion.
‘The Green Machine’ reduced the arrears to 4-2 with a convincing 14-darter, but Barney regained his three-leg cushion with an accomplished 13-darter. The world number one then produced his best leg of the match, with successive visits of 180 and 171 en route to an 11-darter, but Van Barneveld guaranteed a point in the ninth leg by pinning D4.
The five-time world champion left himself on 80 after 12 darts on Van Gerwen’s throw as he aimed to close in on victory, but Michael remained in contention with a nerveless 68 finish. In the eleventh leg, Raymond recorded scores of 140 followed by 139 to leave 62 after 12 darts, but the Den Haag ace wired one dart at D16 for the two points.
MvG was scoring superbly and subsequently broke Barney’s throw with a fine 13-darter on D20 to force a deciding leg. Michael had the advantage of throw and left himself on 53 after just 9 darts. The 26-year-old from Boxtel missed darts at D20 and D10, but returned to complete a 13-darter to confirm his third successive Premier League draw.
In his post-match interview, Raymond told Sky Sports:”I got a point. I played well but it’s not enough. If you don’t hit your doubles, you will get punished.” However, MvG deserves credit for a wonderful fightback, whilst Van Barneveld can take immense encouragement from another fine display.
Elsewhere, Michael Smith’s debut Premier League campaign ended in elimination, after the St Helen’s youngster suffered an unfortunate 7-5 loss to Phil Taylor. It was an extremely gutsy performance from ‘Bully-Boy’, but two classy finishes in the final two legs of the contest saw ‘The Power’ claim his sixth win of this year’s competition.
The first four legs went with throw, before Taylor stole a march by virtue of a clinical 80 finish with his solitary dart at D20. Nevertheless, the 55-year-old relinquished his advantage moments later; spurning two darts at D16 as Smith pinned D15 to level up proceedings.
Smith edged 5-4 ahead and appeared poised to keep his survival hopes alive, but in typical Taylor fashion, the 16-time world champion upped the ante in the decisive period of the match. Taylor drew level at 5-5 with a sublime 11-darter, before converting 80 on D5 to guarantee a point, after Smith had missed tops for a point himself moments later.
The former World-Youth champion produced a fine leg against the throw as he battled valiantly to claim a point, but he missed the bull for a 130 finish for what would have been a 12-dart leg. This ultimately proved expensive, as Taylor returned to take out 124 on the bullseye to claim a crucial victory, and condemn Smith to elimination.
Smith’s St Helen’s compatriot Dave Chisnall also suffered the same fate after he was beaten 7-5 by Peter Wright. Chisnall, who reached the semi-finals of last year’s event, trailed 6-3 before fighting back to force a deciding leg, but Snakebite maintained his composure to close out victory and confirm Chizzy’s relegation.
It was a scrappy start to the contest, with Wright claiming an early 2-1 lead by virtue of three successive breaks of throw. The Scot was monopolising the scoring stakes, but Chisnall reduced the arrears to 4-3 with tremendous 101 and 102 finishes, although Snakebite posted D16 in successive legs to claim a point and leave Chizzy on the brink.
However, Wright spurned five match darts in the tenth leg, and Chisnall exploited this unexpected reprieve by hitting D10 to remain in contention. Dave survived another match dart in the following leg after the world number five wired the bullseye for a spectacular 170, and the St Helen’s ace held his nerve on D18 to force a deciding leg.
Chisnall posted successive visits of 140 to steal a march in the decider, but Wright responded with consecutive 140’s of his own to leave D18 after just 12 darts, and after ‘The Yellow Peril’ was unable to take out 136 to stay afloat, Wright returned to complete a 13-darter to kill off his opponent’s survival hopes.
Gary Anderson and James Wade shared the spoils in a very topsy-turvy contest which opened up the evening. Anderson endured a torrid time on his finishing in the opening exchanges, missing his first 13 double attempts as Wade stormed into a 4-1 advantage.
However, the Scot launched an inspired fightback and a brilliant 81 finish for a 12-darter saw Anderson establish a 6-5 lead, enabling him to throw for the match. Yet, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was unable to convert 79 for a seventh straight win and Wade pinned D10 with his solitary dart at double to complete a 62 checkout and snatch a point.
Finally, Adrian Lewis’ impressive campaign continues, after the two-time world champion secured his sixth victory of the season with a hard-fought 7-4 win against Robert Thornton, who was assured of his survival after Smith and Chisnall suffered defeat earlier in the evening.
Lewis began the encounter in rather tentative fashion and his average was languishing in the 80’s for the opening five legs, although Jackpot improved considerably in the latter stages of the contest and finished with an average just shy of 97.
Thornton completely outscored Lewis but the World Grand-Prix champion was punished for an abject 22% on the doubles. Thornton squandered four clear darts for an early 2-0 cushion, before subsequently spurning three darts at D18 to draw level at 5-5. This proved pivotal, as Lewis returned to seal victory with a 14-darter to regain his play-off place.
Betway Premier League
Judgement Night – March 31
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
James Wade 6-6 Gary Anderson
Michael Smith 5-7 Phil Taylor
Dave Chisnall 5-7 Peter Wright
Robert Thornton 4-7 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 6-6 Michael van Gerwen
|After Judgement Night||P||W||D||L||+/-||LWAT||Pts|
|Michael van Gerwen||9||5||3||1||+20||23||13|
|Raymond van Barneveld||9||3||1||5||-2||18||7|
|Dave Chisnall (E)||9||1||1||7||-14||17||3|
|Michael Smith (E)||9||1||1||7||-26||15||3|