Michael van Gerwen returned to the top of the Premier League table with a thumping 7-1 victory over James Wade, after Phil Taylor suffered a surprise defeat to Peter Wright, at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham on Thursday evening.
Van Gerwen averaged 108.33 and hit 7/9 on the doubles, to avenge his opening week defeat suffered against Wade in February. Profligate doubling cost MvG on that occasion, but he was in imperious form in Birmingham, as he aims to top the Premier League table for the fourth year in succession.
Wade did very little wrong, averaging 102.4, but he was only afforded two darts at double in the entire contest. Van Gerwen’s combination finishing was majestic; the world number one recorded checkouts of 87, 99, 124 and 81, to move above Phil Taylor on legs difference.
Taylor suffered only his second defeat of the season at the hands of Peter Wright, who produced an incredible display of finishing to extend his unbeaten Premier League run against ‘The Power’ to five matches.
Taylor averaged 106.48 and hit 57% of his doubles, but Wright missed just the solitary dart at double as he secured his fifth win of the season. The 16-time world champion seized an early 2-1 advantage, but Wright hit back with successive finishes of 121 and 104.
Phil responded magnificently with a sumptuous 10-darter, but Wright reeled off three straight legs with finishes of 64, 71 and 68, to guarantee at least a point. Taylor remained in contention with a comfortable 15-dart hold, but Wright sealed the 7-4 triumph with a clinical two-dart 71 checkout.
World champion Gary Anderson defeated Raymond van Barneveld in a thrilling tussle to end the Dutchman’s hopes of qualifying for the play-offs. Anderson stormed into a 2-0 lead, but Van Barneveld responded strongly, taking out finishes of 71 and 132 en route to establishing a 4-3 advantage.
The next three legs went with throw, before Barney missed five darts at double for a 6-5 lead. The legendary Dutchman was punished as the world champion closed out a hard-fought 7-5 victory with a clinical 13-darter. Interestingly, despite suffering defeat, Raymond hit an incredible 17 140’s, a record over the 12-leg Premier League format.
Anderson and Wright then contested the final match of the evening and this all-Scottish clash ended in a stalemate. Both men posted ton-plus averages in a topsy-turvy encounter, which saw the first four legs all go against throw.
Anderson then won three successive legs to establish a 5-3 advantage, but Wright responded valiantly and restored parity at five apiece. Nevertheless, Snakebite then spurned three darts at double for a 6-5 lead, allowing Anderson to convert 56 to clinch at least a point.
This was an almost a replica of Anderson’s clash against van Barneveld earlier in the evening, although Wright then managed to break Gary’s throw in the final leg with a sublime 11-darter, to salvage a draw which keeps his slender play-off hopes alive. Anderson meanwhile, requires just one more point to seal his top four spot at the O2.
Elsewhere, Adrian Lewis moved closer to securing a play-off place a routine 7-2 win over Robert Thornton, who is now certain to finish the season in 8th position. Neither player was at their best, but ‘The Thorn’ was punished for a poultry 20% on the doubles, with Lewis taking out shots of 72, 111 and 81 to record his eighth victory of the campaign.