Peter Wright recorded his first ever Unibet Premier League victory over Michael van Gerwen in Cardiff on Thursday night, as world champion Rob Cross suffered another heavy defeat on a night of upsets at the Motorpoint Arena.
Wright claimed his first Premier League win over defending champion Van Gerwen in a breathless contest. ‘Snakebite’ started sluggishly but produced some sensational darts in the second half of the contest to punish missed opportunities from MvG, prevailing with a 101.04 average, three maximums and a 58% checkout conversion rate.
Van Gerwen drew first blood via D12, but then spurned darts at double in each of the next three legs, as Wright established a 3-1 lead with a 13-dart hold. ‘The Green Machine’ reduced the arrears to 3-2 with a clinical 76 kill, before levelling up proceedings at three apiece with a sublime 11-dart leg.
Nevertheless, just as it appeared that Van Gerwen would regain control, his profligacy resurfaced. He missed three clear darts at double for a 4-3 lead and paid a heavy price, as the Scot followed up a nerveless 116 checkout with a tidy 13-darter to move 5-3 ahead.
‘Snakebite’ then left 41 after just 9 darts in a bid to guarantee himself a point, but he wasn’t afforded a dart at double as ‘Mighty Mike’ conjured up an inspired 170 finish to hold. However, Wright was completely undeterred and sealed himself a share of the spoils moments later, rounding-off a 12-dart hold with a double-double 96 outshot.
Wright squandered six darts at D16 to defeat MvG in the Premier League final last year and that same target denied him in the 11th leg, as Van Gerwen pegged tops to stay alive. Despite this, the world number two wasn’t to be denied on this occasion; defying a late maximum from MvG to seal a memorable win with a 13-darter on tops.
Elsewhere, Rob Cross’ woes continue, as the world champion suffered his sixth consecutive defeat after being thrashed 7-1 by Simon Whitlock. ‘The Wizard’ followed up his opening night win over Mensur Suljovic with a comprehensive win over ‘Voltage’; averaging 93.14 and dispatching 39% of his attempts at double.
Cross struggled from the outset; averaging 87.74 and converting just one of his nine attempts at double, as he sits bottom of the pile after the opening two weeks. The former electrician squandered three darts at double in the opening leg, which enabled Whitlock to establish an early 2-0 advantage.
The world champion opened his account with a clinical two-dart 72 combination, but this didn’t spark a fightback. Whitlock replied with a tidy 74 checkout to restore his two-leg cushion, before capitalising on a further three missed darts from Cross to move 4-1 ahead via D10.
The Aussie continued the procession with a 13-dart hold via D13, before guaranteeing himself a share of the spoils via tops, after Cross failed to take out 68. The world champion was struggling for any kind of rhythm and Whitlock soon put him out of his misery; converting an effortless 106 checkout to wrap up an emphatic 7-1 triumph.
Raymond van Barneveld secured his first victory of the 2018 Premier League after edging out Mensur Suljovic 7-5 in a thrilling tussle. Suljovic almost fought back from 6-3 down to force a point, but for the second straight week he lost out with a ton-plus average, as RvB prevailed with a 100.39 average, four 180’s and 47% on the doubles.
The pair exchanged 14-dart holds to kick off proceedings, before Van Barneveld registered a 16-dart hold on tops. Suljovic then left 32 after just 9 darts in the following leg, but incredibly lost it. The Austrian missed three clear darts at double to hold and Van Barneveld punished emphatically; conjuring up a majestic 167 finish to break.
The Dutchman then pegged the bullseye for the second leg in succession to complete a vital 71 outshot, before ‘The Gentle’ got in on the act moments later; converting a clinical 86 finish on the bull after RvB had missed two darts at D12 for a potential 11-darter.
Van Barneveld made amends by following up his second maximum with a classy 61 checkout on D4, before Suljovic reduced the deficit to 5-3 via D18. Van Barneveld then fired in a 14-darter to ensure he would not be beaten, but the Austrian preserved his hopes courtesy of nailing D9.
The five-time world champion had been clinical throughout, but spurned three darts to wrap up victory in the 11th leg. Suljovic gratefully capitalised via D10 and had the throw to salvage a point, but Barney wasn’t to be denied; piling in his fourth maximum at the most opportune moment, before sinking D8 to clinch a fine win with a 13-dart break.
Gary Anderson defied his injury woes to silence a partisan Cardiff crowd and defeat home-favourite Gerwyn Price in a feisty affair. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was well below-par in week one due to his back problem, but he turned on the style to dismantle Price; averaging 99.22, landing five 180’s and converting 47% of his attempts at double.
‘The Iceman’ hit the front with a two-dart 68 combination after Anderson missed one dart to break, but the two-time world champion levelled after following up his first maximum by hitting D8. Price regained the lead on tops, but the Scot registered the fourth consecutive hold of throw with a clinical 104 outshot.
Anderson then punished missed doubles from the Welshman in each of the next two legs to establish a 4-2 advantage with consecutive 13-darters, but Price fired in a 13-darter of his own to reduce the arrears to 4-3. Nevertheless, last year’s UK Open finalist was unable to compete with his opponent’s relentless scoring power.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ crashed in a brace of maximums and pegged D10 for a 13-darter to lead 5-3, before dispatching a crucial 68 kill to guarantee himself a point. This visibly deflated Price and Anderson wasn’t going to relinquish a big lead for the second week in succession; nailing D5 with his last dart to register his first win in this year’s tournament.
Michael Smith continued his 100% record in this year’s Premier League after defeating Daryl Gurney 7-4 in a quality contest. ‘Bully-Boy’ raced into a 3-0 lead but was pegged back by the Northern Irishman, who averaged 101.96. However, missed doubles cost ‘Super-Chin’, as Smith prevailed with a 99.15 average, four 180’s and 43% on the doubles.
The St Helen’s star kicked off proceedings with a clean 70 kill for a 15-dart hold, before crashing in a classy 124 finish on the bull for a 12-dart break. Smith extended his cushion with a two-dart 72 combination for a 14-darter, but Gurney responded superbly, firing in legs of 14, 13 and 14 darts to restore parity at three apiece.
The World Grand Prix champion spurned one dart at D16 for his fourth consecutive leg, as Smith regained the lead on tops. The former World Youth champion then fired in his third maximum in an attempt to break, but Gurney held firm; pegging D10 to level up proceedings at four apiece.
Smith completed a classy 13-dart hold on tops to move 5-4 ahead, before a dramatic tenth leg ensued. ‘Super-Chin’ squandered four darts at double to level and Smith eventually punished; landing tops with his last dart in hand to guarantee himself a point, before polishing off a clinical 64 outshot to clinch a fine victory inside 15 darts.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Unibet Premier League
Night Two- Thursday 8th February
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Michael Smith 7-4 Daryl Gurney
Rob Cross 1-7 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 5-7 Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price 3-7 Gary Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Mensur Suljovic
|Raymond van Barneveld||2||1||1||0||+2||5||3|
|Michael van Gerwen||2||1||0||1||+3||3||2|