Jose De Sousa is a darting enigma. ‘The Special One’ lived up to his nickname on another blockbuster night of Premier League action on Thursday, registering his second televised nine-darter during his 6-6 draw against Nathan Aspinall – just 24 hours after being on the receiving end of perfection at the hands of Jonny Clayton.
The Grand Slam champion also landed a record-equalling 11 maximums in a blistering display of scoring, although he was denied a maiden Premier League victory by ‘The Asp’, who produced a typically tenacious performance to move up to second in the table following Night Four.
This contest had it all. De Sousa kicked off proceedings with back-to-back maximums, but remarkably conspired to lose the leg – miscounting on a seemingly regulation 82 finish, before squandering seven darts at double, to gift a disbelieving Aspinall the early initiative.
Nevertheless, in leg two, the Portuguese ace fired in six perfect darts for the second consecutive leg, and on this occasion made no mistake. He converted the 141 combination with astonishing nonchalance to register his second televised nine-darter in a matter of months – having landed the first against Jeffrey de Zwaan during October’s European Championship.
The 47-year-old is renowned for being one of the sport’s most prolific scorers and he unleashed a relentless assault on the treble 20 bed throughout the evening, to equal the decade-long 180 record set by Gary Anderson against Simon Whitlock in the 2011 event.
Despite this, ‘The Special One’ did manage to set a new record for the number of maximums hit in a best-of-12 Premier League clash, as Anderson’s exploits were achieved over 14 legs.
De Sousa appeared poised to secure his first win of the season after establishing a 5-3 lead, but last year’s finalist Aspinall responded valiantly, enjoying some good fortune in leg nine, before surviving a match dart in the decider to retain his place in the top four.
“It was an amazing feeling hitting the nine-darter,” reflected De Sousa. “To break the 180 record is something positive for me too, my confidence is very good and I enjoy my darts.
“It was a shame for me not to win this match but I know if I keep playing at this level then a win will come soon. Yesterday I really had problems in my shoulder so I had to throw at the treble 19, but today I played very well in practice so I was able to score on the treble 20 and it went well!”
De Sousa will face his stablemate Dimitri Van den Bergh on Night Five, after the Belgian shared the spoils against Peter Wright in Thursday night’s opener. ‘The DreamMaker’ converted finishes of 100 and 160 in back-to-back legs to secure the early advantage, but Wright responded by winning three of the next four legs to level at four apiece.
Both players had opportunities to break in the closing stages, but the final four legs were all won on throw as Van den Bergh and Wright ended the contest with legs of 13 and 12 darts respectively to round off a high-quality affair. The Belgian averaged 101 and fired in eight 180’s in an impressive display, to maintain top spot and his unbeaten record.
Michael van Gerwen squandered the opportunity to regain top spot in the Premier League table, succumbing 7-3 to 2009 champion James Wade, who converted three ton-plus finishes to claim his first win of the campaign.
Van Gerwen averaged 107.58 to dispatch Rob Cross on Night Three, but ‘The Green Machine’ malfunctioned against his fellow Premier League veteran, averaging a paltry 90 and nailing just 27% of his attempts at double. Wade gratefully capitalised, averaging 95 and taking out finishes of 120, 121 and 135 to open his account.
“Michael didn’t play how he can, maybe it was a little bit of luck on my behalf,” Wade admitted. “I haven’t played well at all in the first three games, so I’m not going to get too excited about tonight’s result. I played well enough to win, and it was comfortable. I knew I would play well tonight and I’m happy to get my first win on the board.”
Elsewhere, Rob Cross continued his positive start to the season, inflicting a first defeat on Night Three’s nine-dart hero Jonny Clayton. ‘The Ferret’ endured a nightmare on the outer ring and was suitably punished, as Cross closed out an assured 7-3 success with a 97 average.
Clayton had claimed five points from a possible six on his Premier League debut, but the Welshman squandered 13 of his 16 darts at double in an erratic display. From 3-3, the 2019 runner-up reeled off the last four legs in efficient style to edge closer to ensuring he will avoid elimination on Judgement Night for a second straight season.
The final match of the night saw two-time Premier League winner Gary Anderson return to winning ways and inflict a fourth successive defeat on reigning champion Glen Durrant. ‘Duzza’ was whitewashed by Dimitri Van den Bergh on Night Three and although he avoided a repeat, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ still stormed to a resounding victory.
Durrant displayed glimpses of improvement – the highlight being a clinical 108 checkout in leg six. However, the Teessider was simply outscored by Anderson, who averaged 97, crashed in four 180’s and boasted a 54% success rate on the outer ring to cap off a solid all-round performance.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Unibet Premier League
Thursday April 8
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-6 Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton 3-7 Rob Cross
Jose de Sousa 6-6 Nathan Aspinall
James Wade 7-3 Michael van Gerwen
Gary Anderson 7-2 Glen Durrant
Friday April 9
Gary Anderson v Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright v Rob Cross
Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall
James Wade v Glen Durrant
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Jose de Sousa