Van Gerwen and Anderson suffer defeat in Cardiff

Nathan Aspinall inflicted Michael van Gerwen’s first defeat of the Premier League season with a wonderful display in Cardiff, as debutant Glen Durrant moved top of the table after seeing off two-time world champion Gary Anderson on a dramatic night in the Welsh capital.

Aspinall’s triumph over Van Gerwen was the major headline of the night, although Michael Smith arguably produced the most eye-catching display, averaging 105 to breeze past ‘challenger’ Jonny Clayton, who did very little wrong on his Premier League bow.

Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price is still without a win in this year’s tournament – closing out a third successive draw against Daryl Gurney, who remains bottom despite defying a hostile atmosphere to avoid defeat against the Welsh number one.

Elsewhere, world champion Peter Wright battled past Rob Cross in the evening’s curtain-raiser to register his first victory of the campaign, whilst Durrant defeated Anderson to secure top spot and maintain his unbeaten record in this year’s roadshow.

Michael van Gerwen 5-7 Nathan Aspinall

Aspinall produced a terrific display to defeat Van Gerwen and end the Dutchman’s 100% start to this year’s competition. The defending champion is bidding to top the league phase for an eighth consecutive year but he surrendered a 5-4 cushion against ‘The Asp’ in a thrilling affair.

‘The Green Machine’ drew first blood via double four, only for Aspinall to register a 16-dart hold followed by a clinical 110 kill to secure the early initiative. Van Gerwen then missed double ten for a 140 checkout and Aspinall pounced with a 66 combination to make it three legs on the spin.

The UK Open champion was throwing superbly and he gave the world number one a huge fright in leg five, wiring the bullseye for a 170 outshot and a fourth consecutive leg. MvG gratefully sank double two to stop the rot, only for Aspinall to regain his advantage with a confident 73 checkout.

Van Gerwen produced the trademark burst he so often conjures up when under the cosh – a sublime 10-dart break was sandwiched in between dominant holds of throw as he edged 5-4 ahead. The Dutchman was sensing a third straight win, only for the pendulum to swing in dramatic fashion.

Aspinall levelled via double 18 and punished two missed opportunities from Van Gerwen to nail tops and guarantee himself a point, before capitalising on the advantage of throw in the decider, landing a sensational 165 set-up shot and returning to peg tops to triumph with a 101 average.

Daryl Gurney 6-6 Gerwyn Price

Price recorded his third straight stalemate of the 2020 campaign, as Gurney defied a hostile atmosphere at the Motorpoint Arena to open his Premier League account. There was never more than one leg between the pair in a tightly contested affair featuring just two breaks of throw.

The Northern Irishman was beaten by Anderson and Van Gerwen in his opening two fixtures but he started strongly to subdue the capacity Cardiff crowd, piling in a delightful 11-darter in leg three after the opening two legs went with throw.

‘Super Chin’ was averaging a shade under 106 as he edged 3-2 ahead, only to squander his first break opportunity in leg six. However, the favour was returned to some tune – ‘The Iceman’ frittered away SIX darts to break in the seventh, having posted visits of 174 and 180 earlier in the leg.

The Welshman overcame further double-trouble to make it eight consecutive holds, before the pair ironically traded breaks. Price’s frustration was compounded as Gurney secured his first point of the season, although he regained his poise to salvage a share of the spoils.

Glen Durrant 7-4 Gary Anderson

Durrant continued his dream start to his debut season with a clinical 7-4 success over two-time Premier League champion Anderson. The three-time BDO world champion struggled on the outer ring against Fallon Sherrock last week, but he was deadly on the doubles against ‘The Flying Scotsman’.

‘Duzza’ hit the front in a scrappy opener via double one, although Anderson’s scoring deserted him in the early stages and a confident 85 combination, swiftly followed by a 14-dart hold saw Durrant establish a commanding 3-0 cushion.

Anderson curtailed any whitewash fears via double three but a relentless Durrant converted effortless 107 and 89 checkouts to stretch his lead to 5-1. The Scot was staring down the barrel of a drubbing, but a dazzling 122 finish for a 12-dart break temporarily halted Durrant’s charge.

Anderson sank a fine two-dart 64 combination and also mopped up a skin-saving 75 finish in the penultimate leg. Nevertheless, an unflappable Durrant wasn’t to be denied – a nerveless two-dart 64 finish saw him secure a second league win and clinch top spot in the table.

Peter Wright 7-5 Rob Cross

Wright survived a late rally from Cross to register his first win of this year’s Premier League. There was a staggering 30 point disparity in the averages for large periods, but ‘Voltage’ continued to display the tenacity that had seen him accumulate three points despite playing significantly below-par.

‘Snakebite’ made a blistering start, firing in three consecutive 13-dart legs with Cross floundering. The World Matchplay champion responded well however, opening his account with a 14-darter before taking out a classy 127 on the bull courtesy of rare profligacy from the Scot.

The world champion regained his buffer with a majestic 10-dart leg and whilst comprehensively outplaying his opponent, he was unable to put Cross away, with the world number four converting a clinical 80 kill to stay in contention at 5-3.

Cross’ failure to conjure up a 124 combination saw Wright seal a point, but the 2018 world champ posted consecutive 14-dart legs to force an unlikely decider. However, he was unable to complete the ultimate act of escapology, as Wright held his nerve to sink a nerveless 15-darter in the decider.

Jonny Clayton 1-7 Michael Smith

Smith denied Clayton a fairy-tale triumph on home soil as he reeled off seven consecutive legs to prevail with a 105 average and two ton-plus checkouts. ‘Bully Boy’ relinquished a 6-2 cushion against Clayton’s compatriot Price seven days ago, but he made no mistake in Cardiff.

‘The Ferret’ received a breath-taking reception as he made his way to the stage to the tune of Delilah, and he delighted the partisan home crowd with a confident 13-dart hold in leg one. Nevertheless, they were soon subdued as Smith moved 2-1 ahead following four missed darts from the Welshman.

The 2018 finalist extended his lead to 3-1 as the pair traded maximums and although Clayton posted a very respectable 97.44 average, he was unable to make any further unroads as Smith landed sublime 167 and 142 finishes to secure his first win of this year’s roadshow.

Photo Credits: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

2020 Unibet Premier League Night Three
Thursday February 20

Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Peter Wright 7-5 Rob Cross
Michael Smith 7-1 Jonny Clayton
Nathan Aspinall 7-5 Michael van Gerwen
Daryl Gurney 6-6 Gerwyn Price
Glen Durrant 7-4 Gary Anderson

Night Four
Thursday February 27

3Arena, Dublin
Glen Durrant v Nathan Aspinall
Rob Cross v Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney v Michael Smith
William O’Connor v Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright

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