Raymond van Barneveld was condemned to Premier League elimination after suffering a 7-1 drubbing against Daryl Gurney in Rotterdam, whilst Michael van Gerwen returned to the top of the table after beating Peter Wright by the same scoreline on an eventful night at the Ahoy Arena.
Van Barneveld received an incredible reception from his adoring Dutch fans but he was unable to produce one final moment of Premier League magic, with defeat to Gurney ensuring his farewell campaign will come to a close against Michael van Gerwen tomorrow night.
Gurney breezed into an early 2-0 lead before missing the bull for a 170, which allowed Van Barneveld to open his account in 14 darts. Nevertheless, the five-time world champion then squandered a great opportunity to level up proceedings, busting his attempt at double nine by straying into the 14s.
The Northern Irishman continued the procession and impressive 66 and 96 finishes in consecutive legs sealed a point for ‘Super Chin’, who then closed out his biggest win of the season on double 10, after Van Barneveld missed three at double to stay alive.
Elsewhere, Van Gerwen regained top spot with a thumping 7-1 win over Peter Wright. The world number one was beaten by ‘Snakebite’ in Rotterdam 12 months ago, but there was to be no repeat as MvG brushed aside the off-colour Scot.
‘The Green Machine’ followed up a 14-dart opener by coolly converting a 116 kill to lead 2-0, before landing a delightful 11-darter to pile on the pain for Wright. The world number three didn’t register a dart at double until the fifth leg but he was found wanting, as Van Gerwen stretched his lead to 6-0.
The Dutchman missed one dart at double 12 for a whitewash – which would have been the 11th in Premier League history, and Wright gratefully sank double 16 to avoid that particular indignity. Nevertheless, his reprieve didn’t last long, as MvG nailed double six to prevail with a 100.74 average.
Michael Smith sealed his Premier League safety with victory over Gerwyn Price in a topsy-turvy affair. Price kicked off proceedings with a maximum to leave 48 after 9 darts but spurned five clear darts at double and Smith pounced with a clinical two-dart 86 combination, before doubling his tally on double 10 after ‘The Iceman’ wired tops for a 142 outshot.
The Welshman finally opened his account via double five with his ninth attempt at double, before restoring parity at two apiece with a 11-dart break. The unpredictable nature of the contest continued as three more breaks followed, with a 116 checkout from Price sandwiched in between two 14-dart legs from ‘Bully Boy’.
The St Helen’s star regained his two-leg buffer on double eight, before Price reduced the arrears to 5-4 with a majestic 141 finish. The next two legs went with throw which left Smith throwing for victory and he sealed the deal with a classy 90 kill on the bull, after Price had followed up his fifth maximum by missing two darts for a share of the spoils.
Mensur Suljovic produced a remarkable fightback from 5-1 down to defeat Rob Cross and preserve his spot in the top four. The Austrian only averaged 88.71, but he reeled off the final six legs in succession which included brilliant 136 and 120 checkouts in the final two legs.
‘Voltage’ was bidding to extend his lead at the top of the table and he made the perfect start, firing in legs of 16, 13, 14 and 17 darts to lead 4-0. Suljovic opened his account with a 14-darter, but Cross restored his four-leg cushion with a 13-darter of his own to maintain his 100% checkout success rate.
However, the 2018 world champion suddenly faltered as Suljovic won four legs on the spin to level at five apiece. Cross then squandered seven clear darts to guarantee himself a point and Suljovic picked his pocket with an outrageous 136 checkout, which he backed up with a clinical 120 in the decider to complete the comeback.
Finally, Dimitri Van den Bergh came agonisingly close to becoming the first contender to register a victory in this year’s Premier League as he played out a captivating 6-6 draw with James Wade. There were eight breaks of throw, nine maximums hit and even a brief stoppage in play due to a draft on stage, in a tussle which saw both players average over 100.
Van den Bergh led 2-0 before the players briefly left the stage after Wade indicated he could feel a breeze on stage. ‘The Machine’ responded well on his return, following up a 14-dart break with a 106 checkout to level up at two apiece. However, Van den Bergh regained the initiative with sublime 85 and 140 finishes for successive 12-darters.
Wade fought back to level at 4-4, but ‘The Dream Maker’ restored his lead with a magical 121 on the bull, only for that deficit to be wiped out immediately. ‘The Machine’ then incredibly spurned four darts for a point as Van den Bergh pinned double 10 for 6-5, but the Belgian missed one match dart at double seven in the decider, which saw Wade pinch a point.
Van Barneveld’s farewell against his fellow countryman Van Gerwen is the headline act of tomorrow’s action, as Jeffrey de Zwaan becomes the ninth and final contender to enter the fray when he takes on Cross on home soil.
Photo Credit: Kelly Deckers/PDC
2019 Premier League
Night Eight – Wednesday March 27
Gerwyn Price 5-7 Michael Smith
James Wade 6-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Rob Cross 5-7 Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright 1-7 Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld 1-7 Daryl Gurney
Judgement Night – Thursday March 28
Daryl Gurney v Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Michael Smith