Michael van Gerwen extended his lead at the top of the Unibet Premier League table to four points after registering his eighth successive league victory in Sheffield, as Raymond van Barneveld suffered two damaging defeats to leave his play-off hopes hanging by a thread.
Van Gerwen secured his biggest win of the season courtesy of a 7-1 victory over Simon Whitlock. ‘The Wizard’ claimed the opener before ‘Mighty Mike’ reeled off seven legs on the spin to secure his twelfth consecutive triumph against the Aussie; averaging 102.37, posting four maximums and converting 50% of his attempts at double.
Whitlock hit the front inside 14 darts, but MvG replied by levelling with a 13-darter of his own. Van Gerwen then dispatched a classy 106 checkout to break and registered his third straight leg with another 13-dart hold.
‘The Wizard’ then bust a 126 finish after following up successive treble 19’s by hitting D13 and this visibly deflated the 2010 Premier League finalist. ‘The Green Machine’ took full advantage and capitalised on a poor final three legs from Whitlock to record his eighth successive Premier League win.
Rob Cross moved level on points with second-placed Michael Smith after defeating the St Helen’s star 7-5 in the match of the evening. Cross was averaging over 111 for large periods; before fending off a spirited fightback from ‘Bully Boy’ to triumph with a 106.26 average, four maximums and a 64% checkout conversion rate.
Cross raced into a 2-0 lead inside 28 darts, but Smith responded impressively; eventually finding D5 before registering legs of 15 and 14 darts to secure the initiative. However, ‘Voltage’ produced a stunning burst of form to seal command.
The world champion levelled inside 13 darts, before following up visits of 177 and 180 to regain the lead with a 12-dart break of throw. Cross then stretched his lead with sublime 13 and 12-darts to guarantee a share of the spoils and although Smith reduced the arrears to 6-5 to force a decider, Cross held his nerve to close out victory inside 14 darts.
However, it was a miserable night for five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, who was beaten convincingly by both Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright in a huge blow to his top four aspirations.
Barney’s evening began with a 7-3 reverse against Daryl Gurney, who extended his unbeaten league run to six matches. The Northern Irishman averaged 102.76, landed five maximums and converted 64% of his attempts at double to cap off the best performance of his campaign thus far.
‘Super-Chin’ broke throw in the opener, but Van Barneveld conjured up an inspired 158 checkout to end his run of 14 straight losing legs in this competition. The Dutchman then pegged tops to hit the front, but Gurney pounced on a poor spell from RvB to reel off three consecutive legs and lead 4-2.
The turning point then came in the seventh leg. Van Barneveld left D18 after 12 darts as he attempted to reduce the arrears to 4-3, but he wasn’t afforded a shot, as Gurney hammered home a stunning 121 on the bullseye to break with a 12-darter.
The World Grand Prix champion polished off his fifth straight leg inside 13 darts to guarantee a share of the spoils, but Van Barneveld secured a consolation; following up a delightful 165 set-up by sinking tops for a 14-dart hold. Yet this only delayed the inevitable, as Gurney defied RvB’s second maximum to prevail inside 13 darts.
Van Barneveld then suffered a 7-2 drubbing in the evening’s finale against Peter Wright. ‘Snakebite’ grew into the contest after a lacklustre start; averaging 95.16 and converting 50% of his attempts at double to secure just his second win of the campaign, which moves him level on points with Van Barneveld.
The Dutchman drew first blood in a scrappy opener via D2, before Wright levelled with a crucial 89 kill on the bull, after RvB had missed two darts for a 2-0 lead. The world number two then stretched his advantage to 4-1, with the help of a spectacular 132 outshot (Bull, Bull, D16).
Van Barneveld stopped the rot with a tidy 76 finish, but he wired tops in the following leg for a 120 checkout and this proved expensive. The Scot could sense Barney’s dejection and eased home to secure his first Premier League win since defeating Michael van Gerwen back in week two.
However, Wright’s evening didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, as he suffered a 7-2 defeat to a rampant Gary Anderson, who stormed into the top four with his fourth win of the season. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ appeared on the verge of a whitewash at one stage; averaging 104.26, firing in four maximums and boasting a 35% checkout success rate.
Anderson produced a classy 144 finish to establish an early lead, before reeling off legs of 14, 15 and 15 darts to secure a commanding 5-0 cushion. The two-time Premier League winner then piled in his third maximum but squandered three darts at a double for a 6-0 lead and Wright gratefully capitalised; nailing tops to open his account.
The two-time world champion then spurned two darts at tops to inflict Wright’s fourth 7-1 defeat of the season, and Snakebite found the same target to double his tally. Nevertheless, this didn’t spark an inspired fightback, as Anderson closed out his fourth victory of the season courtesy of a 13-dart hold via D16.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Unibet Premier League
Night Ten – April 12
The FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield
Raymond van Barneveld 3-7 Daryl Gurney
Gary Anderson 7-2 Peter Wright
Simon Whitlock 1-7 Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith 5-7 Rob Cross
Raymond van Barneveld 2-7 Peter Wright