Humphries creates history as Smith sinks Van Gerwen

Luke Humphries created Premier League history with a dramatic 7-5 win over Gary Anderson to become the first ‘challenger’ to triumph since the format’s inception, as Michael Smith inflicted Michael van Gerwen’s second defeat of the campaign on a thrilling night in Exeter.

Humphries posted a ton-plus average as he shared the spoils with Gerwyn Price on his Premier League bow 12 months ago, and despite a drop in the averages, ‘Cool Hand’ went one better to stun Anderson at a packed Westpoint Arena.

Fresh from his nine-dart heroics in Dublin last week, Smith secured his second win over Van Gerwen in the space of five days to cement his spot in the top four, whilst Glen Durrant ended Gerwyn Price’s unbeaten record to climb to the Premier League summit.

Elsewhere, Peter Wright produced a world champion’s performance to see off UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall in a contest littered with quality, as Rob Cross and Daryl Gurney played out an entertaining stalemate in a clash which could have major repercussions in the battle to avoid elimination.

Michael Smith 7-4 Michael van Gerwen

Smith secured his second win over Van Gerwen in the space of five days to leapfrog the Dutchman and move second in the table. ‘Bully Boy’ stormed into a 6-1 lead but squandered a multitude of darts at double in the latter stages, before eventually sealing his third straight league victory.

The St Helen’s star had lost his six previous Premier League clashes against ‘The Green Machine’, but he followed up his victory over Van Gerwen at the Belgian Darts Championship by claiming the scalp of the defending champion in an entertaining finale at the Westpoint Arena.

Having kicked off proceedings with a 13-dart hold on tops, Smith spurned three darts at double in leg two to allow Van Gerwen to level. However, the 2018 finalist then produced a blistering burst of five straight legs, including sublime 96 and 134 finishes – to establish a 6-1 advantage.

The world number one doubled his tally with a sumptuous 11-darter before reducing the arrears to 6-4 following three missed match darts from Smith. The 29-year-old squandered six more on the outer ring in a nervy eleventh leg, before eventually pinning double eight to maintain his winning run.

Gary Anderson 5-7 Luke Humphries

Anderson’s withdrawal from last year’s Premier League prompted the ‘contenders’ concept to be introduced and ironically the Scot became the first permanent player to suffer defeat to a challenger, as he surrendered a 5-4 advantage against Humphries following a dramatic finale.

The World Youth champion held Gerwyn Price to a draw in last year’s competition and he maintained his unbeaten Premier League record with a 7-5 success against the two-time Premier League champion, who was left to rue a host of missed opportunities in the closing stages.

Humphries stole an early march with successive 15-darters to lead 2-0, only to squander chances for a double-break as Anderson capitalised to reel off three legs on the spin. ‘Cool Hand’ rectified matters with two-dart 65 and 78 finishes to level at four apiece, before the fireworks began.

Humphries conjured up a brilliant 100 finish to level at five apiece in response to a classy 14-dart hold from Anderson in the preceding leg, but ‘The Flying Scotsman’ wasted NINE darts at double for a point in the latter stages, as Humphries pegged double one in the decider to create history.

Nathan Aspinall 3-7 Peter Wright

Wright posted the highest average of this year’s competition thus far to register his second victory of the campaign. ‘Snakebite’ averaged just 83 as he succumbed to Gerwyn Price in Dublin last week, although the Scot romped to a 7-3 victory over Aspinall with a stunning 110 average.

The pair contested a thrilling tussle in a recent Players Championship event which saw Aspinall land a nine-dart finish and prevail with a 117 average, and this was another high-quality affair, as the world champion crashed in four maximums en route to victory.

Wright almost kicked off proceedings in explosive fashion, wiring the bull for a 170 checkout. The roles were reversed moments later as Aspinall missed the same target for a 164 checkout, before the Scot followed up a 76 combination with a 14-dart hold for a 3-1 cushion.

The pair then traded 13-dart holds before Aspinall sank a vital 76 finish to reduce the arrears to 4-3, yet Wright delivered a series of crushing blows in the closing stages, posting 11 and 12-dart legs to secure a point, before mopping up a 58 checkout in two darts to inflict defeat on ‘The Asp’.

Gerwyn Price 3-7 Glen Durrant

Price suffered his first defeat of this year’s roadshow following a typically clinical display from Durrant, who averaged 100.76 and converted 44% of his attempts at double to curtail the Welshman’s remarkable 13-match winning run.

It was fine margins in the early stages, as Price missed darts at double for 110 and 127 checkouts, only to see Durrant clean up with consecutive 14-darters. The Teessider continued his fine start with a tidy 80 outshot, before punishing more misses from ‘The Iceman’ to stretch his lead to 4-0.

Price opened his account after the three-time BDO world champion had squandered three clear darts for a 5-0 cushion, although the Welshman’s reprieve was short-lived, as Durrant fired in his third 14-dart leg of the contest to restore his four-leg buffer.

Price doubled his tally in a high-quality seventh leg courtesy of a brace of maximums and despite producing a 14-dart skin saver in leg nine, the Grand Slam champion was unable to threaten the Durrant throw, as the debutant moved on to seven points with his third victory of the season.

Rob Cross 6-6 Daryl Gurney

Gurney remains bottom of the table, although he avoided being cut further adrift in a topsy-turvy clash. The Northern Irishman established a commanding early advantage, only for Cross to produce arguably his best performance of the campaign to escape a third straight defeat.

Clinical combination finishes of 88 and 74 followed by a 13-dart hold saw Gurney establish a 3-0 cushion, but a stunning 121 checkout in leg four ignited Cross, who embarked on a sequence of four straight legs to secure the initiative.

With Cross poised to claim a fifth straight leg, ‘Super Chin’ stopped the rot with a nerveless 68 kill to restore parity at four apiece. The Northern Irishman then regained the lead with a 13-dart break, only to relinquish his buffer moments later.

‘Voltage’ was throwing with far greater conviction than he’d displayed in recent weeks as he rattled in a two-dart 81 combination to guarantee a share of the spoils, but a vital 16-dart hold from Gurney in the decider ensured he left Exeter just two points adrift of Premier League safety.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

2020 Unibet Premier League Night Five
Thursday March 5

Westpoint Exeter
Rob Cross 6-6 Daryl Gurney
Gerwyn Price 3-7 Glen Durrant
Nathan Aspinall 3-7 Peter Wright
Gary Anderson 5-7 Luke Humphries
Michael Smith 7-4 Michael van Gerwen

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