Michael Smith landed his first televised nine-darter on a thrilling night of Premier League action in Dublin, as he edged out Daryl Gurney in a dramatic decider to register back-to-back league wins.
Adrian Lewis was the last man to register a perfect leg in the Premier League almost three years ago, but Smith followed up back-to-back maximums by pinning the 141 checkout to send the capacity crowd wild at the 3Arena.
The magical moment came in leg four of a closely contested affair, which saw the opening ten legs go with throw. However, after Gurney squandered multiple darts at double to secure a point, Smith capitalised to claim the final two legs and move on to five points.
“It’s a feeling you can’t explain – it’s amazing,” said Smith. “I’ve never hit a nine-darter on TV before and this was special. I’ve never felt my heart beat so fast in my life!
“It’s something on my list that I’ve ticked off now and I’m over the moon, but even more pleased to get the win too. I could have played better but I’m chuffed to get the win.”
Remarkably, the St Helen’s star is one of five players sat on five points, with defending champion Michael van Gerwen and debutant Nathan Aspinall leading the way on six points apiece.
After losing to Aspinall on Night Three in Cardiff, Van Gerwen returned to winning ways with a 7-4 success over latest ‘challenger’ William O’Connor. ‘The Magpie’ received an incredible ovation from the Dublin crowd and acquitted himself admirably on his Premier League bow.
O’Connor had registered victory over the world number one on three separate occasions and having trailed 3-1, he converted a clinical 80 kill in leg six to level up proceedings, only for Van Gerwen to win four of the remaining five legs to triumph with a 97 average.
“It was a phenomenal atmosphere tonight and I think for William it was like my first time playing in Rotterdam,” said Van Gerwen. “I’ve had a lot of good games against him in the past and he played okay tonight. It was tough for me and I had to fight for this win so I’m happy.”
Elsewhere, Aspinall secured his third win of the season with an impressive comeback victory over Glen Durrant in the evening’s curtain-raiser. Durrant topped the table following Night Three and he appeared poised to extend his lead at the summit after establishing a 3-1 cushion.
Durrant produced a delightful 144 checkout in the early stages but Aspinall recovered, taking out 85 and a crucial 129 finish to lead 5-4. Durrant punished missed doubles from ‘The Asp’ to level, only for the UK Open champion to fire in a 177 followed by a nerveless 88 outshot in the decider.
“I’m a happy guy,” said Aspinall. “The 129 was a massive shot and I knew it, and in patches I played well. I’ve never played well against Glen but I had a bit of luck tonight at crucial times and I got the job done. I’m in a good position at the moment and I want to build on this.”
Gerwyn Price occupies third spot on legs difference after closing out a 7-1 thrashing of world champion Peter Wright. Price shared the spoils in his clashes against Cross, Smith and Gurney, but he sealed his first win of this year’s roadshow with an emphatic win over an off-colour Snakebite.
The pair contested a sensational Pro Tour final on Saturday, both averaging over 109 as Wright eventually ran out an 8-6 winner. Nevertheless, in a repeat of last year’s Grand Slam final and their controversial World Championship semi-final, the Welshman was far too strong.
The pair shared the opening two legs before Price reeled off six consecutive legs to prevail, averaging 98.75 to Wright’s 83.59. As a result, ‘The Iceman’ is the only unbeaten player remaining in this year’s event, whilst Wright is left languishing in eighth position following a dreadful night at the office.
“It’s a very good win for me,” said Price. “I’ve had three draws so it’s nice to get the win and get my campaign underway, and I feel like I’m in the tournament now. I was a bit edgy and I wasn’t at my best, but I’ll take a 7-1 win over Peter any day of the week.”
Finally, Gary Anderson secured his second win of the campaign with a battling 7-5 win over Rob Cross, in a battle of the former world champions. Anderson was indebted to some clinical combination finishing – checkouts of 109 and 106 saw him share the opening eight legs with ‘Voltage’.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ then took out 85 and sank a 14-darter to guarantee himself a point, only for Cross to rattle in a brilliant 128 skin-saver. Despite this, the world number four couldn’t take out 124 to salvage a point and Anderson nailed double ten to leapfrog the World Matchplay champion.
“Some of it was pretty and some of it was awful, but it’s nice to scrape a win there. I’m still making mistakes but there’s times that the throw is working and it will come good. It’s going well on the practice board and I want to take it up on stage,” reflected Anderson.
Photo Credit: Stephen Lee/PDC
Unibet Premier League
Thursday February 27
Glen Durrant 5-7 Nathan Aspinall
Rob Cross 5-7 Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney 5-7 Michael Smith
William O’Connor 4-7 Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price 7-1 Peter Wright