Michael van Gerwen returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a pulsating 7-5 victory over Robert Thornton on night ten at the Sheffield Arena. Van Gerwen posted an average of 117.95, the second highest in Premier League history; but he was pushed all the way by a tenacious Thornton, who averaged 104.23 and recorded 71% on the doubles.
Thornton kicked off proceedings with a confident 14-dart hold by virtue of posting his first maximum, but MvG levelled up proceedings immediately with a 13-darter on D20. The Dutchman then produced another 13-darter on tops to break the throw, before establishing a two-leg cushion thanks to a majestic 10-dart leg.
Van Gerwen produced scores of 180, 135 and 170, before cleaning up D8 to maintain his perfect record on the doubles. ‘The Green Machine’ recorded another visit of 170 in the fifth leg to open up a break opportunity and after Thornton wired the bullseye for an 81 finish, Michael clinched his fourth successive leg by pinning D10 with his last dart.
Thornton was throwing well and the World Grand-Prix champion recorded his second maximum to leave 81 after just 9 darts. However, in an exact replica of the previous leg, the Scot missed the bull to complete the combination, and van Gerwen converted 78 in two-darts for his fifth straight leg.
Nevertheless, Thornton managed to stop the rot in the seventh leg, following up his third 180 with a clinical 54 checkout on D20 to reduce the arrears to 5-2. Despite this, Van Gerwen remained unperturbed and he guaranteed himself a point with a sublime 138 checkout culminating on D12; for a 12-dart hold of throw.
Robert was battling valiantly and he remained in contention after producing a fabulous 11-darter. ‘The Thorn’ kicked off the leg with a brilliant 174, but despite MvG kicking off the leg with a maximum, he wasn’t afforded a shot at double.
The world number one had the opportunity to close out a 7-3 victory after the pair traded maximums in the tenth leg, but he squandered two-match darts and Thornton capitalised, pinning D20 for the fourth time in the contest to reduce the deficit to 6-4.
The eleventh leg was a dramatic affair. Van Gerwen posted successive 180’s whilst Thornton also hit his fifth maximum in a brilliant treble of maximums. Michael left himself on 56 after just 9 darts, but he again squandered two match-darts, enabling Thornton to convert 76 in two-darts for his third successive leg, to force a deciding leg.
Van Gerwen had recorded three consecutive draws prior to tonight’s showdown therefore victory was imperative for the Dutch star. After previously failing to close out victory, he maintained his composure on this occasion, firing in five perfect darts, before nailing D20 for a fabulous 11-darter, to register a dramatic 7-5 triumph.