The line-up for Finals Night at The O2 Arena next Thursday was confirmed on a remarkable night of Premier League Darts where three out of the four matches ended in draws.
Gary Anderson defeated Michael van Gerwen by seven legs to five in an entertaining encounter while Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright played out a nervy 6-6 draw to ensure that Anderson qualified for the play-offs at the expense of ‘SuperChin’ and his very slim hopes.
In the night’s opening two matches, Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld played out a high-quality contest in another 6-6 draw while Simon Whitlock fought back against Rob Cross to also earn a point.
Michael Smith 6 – 6 Raymond van Barneveld
The opener proved to be a fierce and exciting contest as Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld went tit for tat in a contest that featured a remarkable FIVE ton plus checkouts, three from the Dutchman and two from the Englishman.
The standard was set from the off as van Barneveld registered a delightful 122 checkout, started on the bull, in the second leg before following up in the fourth and sixth with finishes of 126 and 121 respectively, all brilliant efforts. All the while, ‘Bully Boy’ plugged away as well as hitting a 124 checkout of his own in leg five.
Up until the ninth leg the match went with throw as both men were exceptional on their doubles, giving their opponent no quarter to break. This changed in leg nine though as van Barneveld hit D9 after missing three attempts at D18 and D9 beforehand to break the throw of Smith.
Smith took advantage of missed chances in leg ten before turning on the style with a 107 checkout, the fifth ton plus finish of the match, to take a potentially decisive 6-5 lead. It was not over yet for the Dutchman however as ‘Barney’ held his nerve with a 91 checkout in two darts for the draw. All of which was still a good effort from a poorly ‘Bully Boy’ who was suffering with pleurisy.
Simon Whitlock 6 – 6 Rob Cross
Simon Whitlock fought back in a topsy turvy battle against world champion Rob Cross to register the second draw of the night. ‘Voltage’ was quick out of the blocks, registering checkouts of 112 and 16 to hold a 2-0 advantage.
As would develop as the match went on though, Cross found it difficult to wrap leg three up and his missed chances at doubles gave rise to Whitlock nailing D10 for leg three. The Aussie was powerless to prevent two of the next three legs going the way of the reigning world champion however as Cross extended his lead with solid holds of throw.
Somehow, leg seven, Whitlock fought back to within one despite busting D8 and a single 16 and Cross having four chances to capitalise. As it was, he could not and this, alongside a D7 in the next leg, levelled things at four apiece.
Two breaks followed as Cross nailed a 90 checkout before Whitlock hit D8, D8 for a 32 finish and 5-5. As Cross followed up with yet more missed doubles in leg eleven Whitlock ensured a point but he could not stop ‘Voltage’ hitting a 94 checkout in the final leg to ensure the match ended level.
Peter Wright 6 – 6 Daryl Gurney
Daryl Gurney’s slim top four hopes were ended in an entertaining draw as Peter Wright registered more than the two legs Gurney could afford him to win in order to give him a chance of leapfrogging Gary Anderson in the standings at the last.
Despite clearly looking nervy and struggling, it was Gurney who did take the early lead that he needed as he stole legs away from Peter Wright, with ‘Snakebite’ missing several chances on his doubles. Averaging only a mere 80, Gurney managed to contrive a 3-1 advantage for himself to keep his play-off hopes alive.
These hopes began to burn brighter as the Northern Irishman turned it on with consecutive finishes of 60 and 81 alongside top-quality scoring in legs six and seven for a 5-2 lead. From here however, Wright put paid to ‘SuperChin’s’ Finals Night dream. Leg eight, with a single dart at D19, officially ended Gurney’s Premier League hopes.
Demoralised, Gurney’s form dropped off and allowed Wright to fight back into proceedings. Continuing to plug away, ‘Snakebite’ hit finishes of 82, 32 and 20 to make sure he did not just leave his home country with nothing. The result also ensured that all three matches had so far ended as draws.
Michael van Gerwen 5 – 7 Gary Anderson
The draw pattern was, though, finally broken in the final leg of the night in Aberdeen. Despite the match lacking the 110+ averages of previous encounters between the pair, this contest was still entertaining as Anderson attempted to distance himself on the scoreline, being the better man, but van Gerwen repeatedly clawed away at his advantage.
After the opening four legs were shared, to the delight of the crowd, Anderson broke the Dutchman’s throw as he won the next two legs with a brilliant 121 checkout and a finish on D4. Van Gerwen, in typical fashion, was brutal in wiping out the deficit with an efficient response that began to silence the crowd.
Another pair of legs followed suit once more as Anderson reignited the passions of his adoring native fans with a 112 finish securing a point for ‘The Flying Scotsman’ as he made it 6-4. Despite pulling one back, ‘Mighty Mike’ could not prevent Anderson from hitting tops and handing him his fourth defeat of the 2018 campaign as the league phase was brought to a close with an Anderson win.
The result confirms the line-up for The O2 in the semi-finals on Finals Night where Michael van Gerwen will face Rob Cross in a repeat of their epic World Championship semi-final while Gary Anderson will meet Michael Smith.