Raymond van Barneveld returned to winning ways on an incredible night of action at Rotterdam Ahoy on Wednesday, as Peter Wright produced a sensational display to spoil the party and end Michael van Gerwen’s eight-match winning run.
However, five-time world champion Van Barneveld enjoyed a hero’s welcome from the capacity Rotterdam crowd and he duly rose to the occasion; averaging 101.44 to defeat Simon Whitlock 7-3 and end a run of four successive league defeats.
Barney kicked off proceedings with a maximum and a 14-dart hold on tops, before stretching his lead to 3-0 with clinical 100 and 76 finishes. The Dutchman then missed three darts at double for a 4-0 advantage and Whitlock capitalised; opening his account with an 88 finish via D7.
The next four legs all went with throw, with the pair trading 13-dart holds as Barney established a 5-3 cushion. The Dutch legend then converted a clinical two-dart 64 kill to guarantee himself a share of the spoils, before following up his fourth maximum by dispatching a 90 finish inside two darts, to seal a stunning victory with an 11-dart leg.
Van Barneveld admitted: “I was emotional when I got on stage. This is what it’s all about – to play in front of this crowd is such an honour. To be here and to do so well in front of a crowd like this is amazing and I’m so happy.
“I’ve been struggling for the last two or three weeks and I’ve lost four games on the spin, so tonight it was really important to have the win against Simon. I’ve got Michael van Gerwen now on Thursday and I can look forward to that. I still believe I can do it but I can’t make any mistakes. If you dream, anything can happen.”
Nevertheless, it was a disappointing night for Michael van Gerwen, who was beaten 7-5 on home soil by an inspired Peter Wright. ‘The Green Machine’ registered eight straight league wins since his defeat to ‘Snakebite’ in week two, but the Scot completed the league double over the world number one to keep his play-off dreams flickering.
The opening three legs all went with throw, before the contest sparked into life. Wright converted nerveless 98 and 84 finishes to complete 11 and 12-dart legs to lead 4-1, until Van Gerwen stopped the rot via tops. The Scot then completed a clinical 71 kill on tops for another 12-dart hold, before a typical MvG surge ensued.
The reigning Premier League champion took out a stunning 122 finish (25, T19, D20) for a 12-dart hold, before dispatching an exhibition 94 checkout (S18, D18, D20) after Wright had missed D12 for a 141 checkout. Nevertheless, Van Gerwen’s magnificent finishing wasn’t done there, as he piled in a majestic 148 outshot to level proceedings at 5-5.
Despite this, last year’s Premier League finalist rode the storm superbly. The pair traded maximums as Wright guaranteed himself a point via D4, and when Van Gerwen was unable to take out 117 to claim a draw the Scot stepped in on D12 to seal a famous win, despite Van Gerwen averaging 106.87 to Wright’s 99.08.
The world number two reflected: “It’s special to play in this atmosphere and it makes you focus more and want to play your best darts. I always like playing Michael because he brings the best out of you.
“I knew I had a game on my hands because he’s top of the league and the number one in the world, but it didn’t matter what Michael did tonight, I knew I would win. I was just in that mood and when you feel like that the game is easy.”
Elsewhere, it was a perfect night for two-time Premier League champion Gary Anderson, who registered victories over Michael Smith and Rob Cross in his double-header to move up to 3rd in the table.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ produced a dazzling display against his protégé Smith in the evening’s curtain-raiser; running out a 7-2 winner after posting a 110.83 average- the highest of the Premier League season so far.
Anderson drew first blood with a 68 finish to break inside 15 darts, before doubling his lead courtesy of a 14-dart hold. The next two legs were shared, before Anderson increased his cushion to 5-1 with back-to-back 12 darters.
Smith stopped the rot with a fine 90 checkout culminating on D5, but he was helpless to stop a rampant Anderson. The two-time world champion effortlessly dispatched a 70 finish to secure himself a point, before taking out a spectacular 138 to seal a comprehensive victory.
Anderson then returned to defeat world champion Rob Cross 7-3 in the evening’s finale, missing D12 for a nine-darter along the way. ‘Voltage’ drew first blood with a sublime 144 checkout, before the pair then exchanged 14-dart holds.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ then seized the initiative by pegging three consecutive ton-plus finishes; taking out 120, 104 and 117 to lead 4-2. Anderson continued his flawless finishing with a 70 outshot, before wiring D12 for a magical nine-darter in leg eight.
Ando returned to post D3 and claim a share of the spoils, and although Cross briefly halted his charge, he was unable to mount a comeback. The world champion squandered three darts at double to reduce the arrears to 6-4 and Anderson pounced; converting a two-dart 56 checkout to complete a perfect night’s work in Rotterdam.
“Coming here knowing I had three games in two nights I wanted to get six points, so to have four points so far is looking good,” the world number four claimed. “It came good and the first game was great against Michael. He beat me on the first night and I couldn’t let myself lose to him twice in a season!
“The 180s were banging in and the checkouts were good, and it was a lot better than the last time I played Michael. The finishing went well throughout the night tonight, it was absolutely great. It’s been a while since I played two games in a night but this part of the season is where you’ve got to start digging deep.”
Although Cross’ evening ended in disappointment, he began his double-header with a 7-4 win over Daryl Gurney to move up to second in the table. Cross stormed into a commanding lead before fending off a spirited fightback from ‘Super Chin’ to gain revenge for his Belfast defeat at the hands of the World Grand Prix champion.
‘Voltage’ capitalised on a lacklustre start from Gurney to race into a 5-0 lead, taking out finishes of 107 and 119 in successive legs. The Northern Irishman hit back, converting finishes of 120 and 138 to reduce the deficit to 6-4. Yet ultimately it was too little too late, as Cross eventually sealed a hard-fought victory with his sixth match dart at D8.
The world champion admitted: “The crowd was fantastic and I didn’t realise how loud it would be, but it was an absolutely great experience. The big checkouts helped at the start and I’m happy to have got the win against Daryl.”
The Rotterdam double-header concludes on Thursday night, as Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld do battle on home soil. Daryl Gurney takes on Gary Anderson and Simon Whitlock in his double-header, whilst the Australian also meets Smith to open the evening. The other tie sees world champion Rob Cross play world No. 2 Peter Wright.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Night 11 – April 18
Michael Smith 2-7 Gary Anderson
Rob Cross 7-4 Daryl Gurney
Raymond van Barneveld 7-3 Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright 7-5 Michael van Gerwen
Rob Cross 3-7 Gary Anderson
Night 12 – April 19
Simon Whitlock v Michael Smith
Daryl Gurney v Gary Anderson
Rob Cross v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Daryl Gurney v Simon Whitlock