Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith maintained their lead at the top of the Unibet Premier League with dominant victories over Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright, whilst Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson shared the spoils on an eventful night at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.
However, world number one Van Gerwen remains top of the league on legs difference, after dispatching Gerwyn Price 7-3 to make it four consecutive wins for ‘The Green Machine’. Van Gerwen averaged 104.80, landed two maximums and converted 58% of his attempts at double to extend Price’s winless streak in the competition.
The opening four legs of the contest were shared, but the reigning Premier League secured the initiative with a brilliant 152 checkout, which he subsequently followed up with finishes of 95, 71 and 117 to guarantee himself a share of the spoils.
Price, who is cut adrift at the bottom of the pile on just two points, appeared resigned to his fate and Van Gerwen sensed blood; rounding-off an emphatic win with a majestic 11-darter.
Van Gerwen said: “I think I played okay but I know I can do a lot better. I did the right things at the right moments and got the two points, which was the most important thing. I want to raise my game now for the rest of the Premier League, but I’m at the top of the table and that’s where I want to be. I feel good.”
However, Michael Smith is hot on Van Gerwen’s heels after registering a comprehensive 7-1 victory over an out-of-sorts Peter Wright in Nottingham. The world number two averaged a miserly 82.91 as he suffered his second consecutive 7-1 defeat in the Premier League, which sees him slip into the relegation zone via legs difference.
‘Bully Boy’ drew first blood with a tidy 13-darter, before following up a maximum with a clinical 77 finish. Wright halved the deficit via tops but then spurned four darts to restore parity as Smith moved 3-1 up.
‘Snakebite’ was desperately struggling in the scoring department and those misses proved particularly expensive, as they were his final darts at a double in the contest. The St Helen’s star sensed blood and reeled off four legs on the spin to ease to victory and claim his fifth success of the campaign.
Smith admitted: “I started off alright but I saw Peter was struggling. I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to but I won and that’s the most important thing. I keep hitting the doubles and getting the points. I’ve been focusing on not getting eliminated and this is another two points towards that, so I’m pretty happy but I’ve still got more in the tank.”
World champion Rob Cross produced the performance of the night to continue his fine form and claim his fourth consecutive league victory. ‘Voltage’ averaged 106.49, piled in three maximums and dispatched 78% of his attempts at double to move up to third in the Premier League table.
Cross followed up a break of throw via D18 with a clean 68 kill to establish a 2-0 lead, before Suljovic opened his account inside 14 darts. However, the Hastings ace upped the ante to open up a sizeable cushion.
He restored his two-leg buffer with a classy 104 outshot, before following up his first maximum with a tidy 64 checkout. Cross then capitalised on missed doubles from ‘The Gentle’ to guarantee himself a point at 6-1 and although Suljovic doubled his tally via D9, the rampant world champion capped off a clinical display on D12 in the very next leg.
Cross claimed: “Mensur didn’t play as well as he has been recently but my setting up and finishing was great and it’s something I’ve been working hard on. I’m really happy with the win, I’m enjoying it and I was focused on the job tonight. I feel I’m playing well and it’s all going the right way for me at the minute – I feel I’m getting better every week.”
Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson shared the spoils in Nottingham, after the newly crowned UK Open champion survived five match darts from Van Barneveld in a dramatic finale to the evening. Anderson’s 22-match unbeaten run was under serious threat, but for the third straight week he recovered from 6-4 behind to snatch a point.
The opening four legs were shared, before Anderson fired in classy 105 and 117 finishes to establish a 4-2 advantage. However, Barney responded magnificently; reducing the arrears on tops, before following up seven perfect darts with an eventual 11-darter to level up proceedings at four apiece.
Van Barneveld then converted a nerveless 72 kill to edge 5-4 ahead, before following up a majestic 162 set-up shot by pinning D4 to guarantee himself a point with his fourth straight leg. However, RvB then spurned five match darts in a nervy 11th leg, before ‘The Flying Scotsman’ piled in a stunning 144 checkout to salvage himself a point.
A philosophical Anderson stated: “I know I can still play better but I pinched a point at the end. I was practising well but the darts were dropping low when I got on stage. The checkout at the end is how I wanted to start off the game but Raymond missed a few shots and let me in. I’ll take it for now but it’s got to come good sometime.”
Van Barneveld was also taking the positives after an encouraging display, which sees him remain in fifth position: “I could have won that but I missed those doubles at the end and Gary’s 144 was a great finish.
“When I was 4-2 down I’d have been happy with a draw, but if you’re leading 6-4 you think you might win and that’s when things go wrong. It’s a tough competition this year and anything could happen in the next few weeks.”
Finally, Daryl Gurney secured his fourth draw of the Premier League season after surviving four-match darts in a topsy-turvy tussle against Simon Whitlock. ‘The Wizard’ conjured up two ton-plus checkouts to claim a point but failed to complete the job, as Gurney avoided defeat after averaging 99.11 and crashing in four maximums.
Whitlock drew first blood, before Gurney won three consecutive legs to seize the early initiative. However, a sumptuous 133 finish from the Aussie saw him claim three legs on the bounce to regain control, before he converted crucial 88 and 112 finishes to ensure he wouldn’t be beaten.
Nevertheless, Whitlock was unable to gain retribution for his World Grand Prix defeat against ‘Super-Chin’ after squandering four match darts in a dramatic decider and Gurney took full advantage. The Northern Irishman pegged D8 to snatch a point and claim his fourth stalemate of the season, but his wait for a debut win continues.
The Aussie acknowledged: “It was a strange game. Daryl got off to a good start, I came back at him and missed match darts, which is disappointing. But to get a draw against Daryl is pretty good for me because of my record against him and a draw’s not a bad result in the end.”
Gurney moves out of the bottom two on legs difference and was relatively upbeat: “To try to get to where I want to be I had to win tonight, so the pressure’s still on. Simon played a great game – I kept on top of him but he kept on going. I thought it was competitive leg-on-leg and it’s another point for me, but I’m sure Simon’s thinking he should have won.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
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|Raymond van Barneveld||6||2||2||2||-3||13||6|