2020 Premier League Darts: Night One Report!

Michael van Gerwen kicked off the defence of his Premier League crown with a thrilling victory over world champion Peter Wright, as Gary Anderson made a winning return to the competition and Nathan Aspinall and Glen Durrant enjoyed debut wins in Aberdeen.

The headline act at the P&J Live venue saw Van Gerwen and Wright lock horns in a repeat of their World Championship final on New Year’s Day, but ‘The Green Machine’ gained an element of revenge on a dramatic opening night in the Granite City.

Elsewhere, two-time Premier League champion Anderson produced a stirring fightback to edge out Daryl Gurney, whilst Durrant kicked off this year’s bonanza with a convincing 7-3 victory over world No 5 Michael Smith.

‘Challenger’ John Henderson failed to replicate the display he produced against Van Gerwen last year as he lost out 7-3 to Aspinall in a subdued affair, whilst last year’s finalist Rob Cross impressed against Gerwyn Price as the pair played out the first stalemate of this year’s tournament.

Michael van Gerwen 7-5 Peter Wright

Van Gerwen defeated home favourite Wright in a repeat of their World Championship showpiece, averaging 104.13 and landing four ton-plus checkouts to begin his bid for a fifth consecutive Premier League crown with a precious two points.

‘The Green Machine’ made a stuttering start and Wright raced into a 2-0 lead courtesy of 80 and 120 checkouts. Nevertheless, the world champion then spurned eight darts at double across the next three legs as Van Gerwen regained the initiative, aided by 106 and 120 finishes of his own.

The Dutchman wired double five for a fourth straight leg before the decorated duo exchanged 13-dart holds, and the sensational standard continued. Van Gerwen conjured up a delightful 144 outshot to move 5-4 ahead, only for Snakebite to respond with a majestic 157 kill.

However, Wright was found wanting in the latter stages and Van Gerwen sensed blood. The world No 1 sank double nine to guarantee himself a share of the spoils and after Wright failed to land the requisite trebles in the decider, MvG took out his second 106 finish of the evening to triumph.

Gary Anderson 7-5 Daryl Gurney

Anderson made a winning Premier League return as he reeled off three consecutive legs from 5-4 down to defeat last year’s semi-finalist Gurney. Gurney started strongly but endured a nightmare on the outer ring in the latter stages and Anderson pounced to the delight of the partisan crowd.

The opening six legs of the contest went with throw, but Gurney landed the first decisive blow in leg seven. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ suffered two bounce-outs during the leg but was still first to a finish, only to squander three clear darts at double ten.

Having picked out a clinical two-dart 80 kill in leg six, the Northern Irishman defied the hostility from a partisan Scottish crowd to hit the front with a fine 72 outshot, only to remarkably fritter away EIGHT darts at double moments later, allowing Anderson to level via double one.

The topsy-turvy nature continued as the pair traded breaks, although with the scores locked at five apiece, Anderson found his range. The two-time world champion landed maximums in each of the last two legs and fired in back-to-back 12-darters, landing a 104 checkout to claim a victory.

Gerwyn Price 6-6 Rob Cross

Price and Cross shared the spoils in a high-quality finale in Aberdeen, as ‘The Iceman’ salvaged a point from 6-4 down. Cross reeled off four successive legs from 4-2 down to close in on victory, but the Welshman defied a ton-plus average from ‘Voltage’ to claim a valuable point.

The Grand Slam champion kicked off proceedings with a tidy 72 checkout for a 15-dart hold, only for Cross to land double 16 in consecutive legs to secure the lead. Price then upped the ante, opening up a 4-2 cushion courtesy of an explosive three-leg burst.

‘The Iceman’ followed up a 14 and 13-dart legs by crashing in a timely maximum and taking out an eye-catching 124 on the bull, although he was left to rue three missed darts at double for a 5-3 lead in leg eight, as Cross gratefully pinned double 10 to level.

‘Voltage’ was gradually growing in confidence and produced a 13-dart break followed by an effortless 100 checkout to make it four legs on the spin, but Price delivered the goods in the closing stages, taking out a delightful 130 finish before rattling in a 13-darter in the decider to deny Cross victory.

Glen Durrant 7-3 Michael Smith

Durrant produced a clinical display of finishing to defeat 2018 finalist Smith 7-3 and kick off his debut season in sublime style. The three-time BDO world champion capitalised on every error from ‘Bully Boy’ and converted seven of his nine attempts at double to prevail with a 95.01 average.

Smith opened up proceedings with a maximum and a 13-dart hold, but despite being first to a finish in each of the next two legs, the world No 5 lost both as Durrant converted a two-dart 96 combination for a break of throw in leg three.

The St Helen’s star delivered a stinging riposte – taking out 84 in two darts for an 11-dart break. Nevertheless, he surrendered his throw instantly and Durrant fired in legs of 13 and 14 darts, before mopping up a fine 68 checkout on double 12 to establish a 5-2 cushion.

Smith stopped the rot with an effortless 74 combination although his profligacy resurfaced in leg nine. He squandered two darts at double to reduce the arrears to 5-4 and Durrant followed up a 13-dart hold by sealing victory on double 16, after Smith missed tops for a 106 skin-saver.

Nathan Aspinall 7-3 John Henderson

Aspinall emulated Durrant by prevailing on his full-time Premier League debut, punishing an abject display from home hero Henderson to ease to a 7-3 success. ‘The Highlander’ claimed a share of the spoils against Van Gerwen in Aberdeen last year, but he was unable to replicate those heroics.

Henderson received another vociferous welcome from the capacity crowd in the Granite City, but his darts were unable to match the atmosphere. He wired the bull for an early break of throw in leg three before Aspinall began to settle following a nervy start.

The UK Open champion was dominating the scoring stakes and established a 5-2 buffer in a leg that saw the pair trade maximums and although Henderson briefly stopped the rot via tops, ‘The Asp’ produced a sensational 170 checkout in the penultimate leg before sealing the deal via double six.

2020 Unibet Premier League Night One
Thursday February 6
Aberdeen, P&J Live

Glen Durrant 7-3 Michael Smith
Gary Anderson 7-5 Daryl Gurney
Michael van Gerwen 7-5 Peter Wright
Nathan Aspinall 7-3 John Henderson
Gerwyn Price 6-6 Rob Cross

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