Rob Cross defeated Michael Smith in an enthralling match of the night on Night 10 of Premier League Darts 2018 from FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield.
Elsewhere, there were wins for table topping Michael van Gerwen, Daryl Gurney, Gary Anderson and Peter Wright, who won one of his two matches. Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld suffered defeat in both legs of his double header to seriously dampen his play-off hopes.
As the night kicked off, Sky and the PDC paid tribute to the late, great Eric Bristow with special video packages followed by a minute’s applause, observed by all in attendance alongside all the players, commentators and Keith Deller and Bobby George, whom all stood before the crowd onstage.
Raymond van Barneveld 3 – 7 Daryl Gurney
In the first of his two matches, ‘Barney’ struggled and could not cope with an impressive performance from Daryl Gurney, who moved into the top four momentarily with victory.
With Gurney taking the first leg, van Barneveld lost his 13th straight leg in the tournament, an unwanted statistic but one that he superbly put right in the following leg as he hit T20, T20, T19 for a sensational 158 checkout.
The following two legs were shared before ‘SuperChin’ registered a brilliant 11-darter to break the Dutchman’s throw. With RvB visibly struggling, the Northern Irishman turned on the gas in winning the next two legs too on tops and the bullseye to finish a 121 checkout in legs six and seven respectively.
From 2-1 behind, Gurney made it five straight legs in the eighth before he wrapped up the victory in leg ten to make it six matches without defeat in the tournament. 102.76 average and 64% on the doubles summed up the impressive performance from Daryl Gurney.
Peter Wright 2-7 Gary Anderson
For Peter Wright, he too suffered defeat in the first of his two matches on the night. The win was commanding for Gary Anderson who delivered a high standard with a 104 average evidencing the way ‘The Flying Scotsman’ outmuscled his opponent.
The beginning of the match proved pivotal as Anderson opened up a massive 5-0 lead in double quick time. Wright had a few chances on the doubles to prevent this chasm developing but, ultimately, ‘Snakebite’ just could not live with Anderson’s powerful performance.
Despite registering two out of the next three legs, Wright could still do very little to prevent Anderson taking the win in leg nine on D16.
The result left Wright with one win in 10 and desperately needing to beat van Barneveld in the night’s final game.
Michael van Gerwen 7-1 Simon Whitlock
Table-topping Michael van Gerwen continued his dominance at the top of the standings with a comprehensive victory over Simon Whitlock, his biggest of the 2018 Premier League.
It all started so differently too as Whitlock took the opening leg with a 50 checkout before missing a chance at an 81 finish for 2-0. From there, the game rapidly slipped away from the Australian as van Gerwen moved up through the gears in trademark fashion, winning seven legs on the spin to victory.
Along the way, ‘Mighty Mike’ delivered some fantastic feats of darting skill, pulling off sublime checkouts of 106, 126 and 121. Of particular note was the outrageous 121 checkout hit in leg six where the Dutchman hit bullseye by mistake before nonchalantly proceeding to reel off the remaining treble 13 and double 16 needed for the checkout in rapid fashion.
Rob Cross 7-5 Michael Smith
The night’s best match was an enthralling contest, high on both drama and quality. Rob Cross, the far superior power scorer throughout the contest, struggled to shrug off a determined effort from Michael Smith throughout.
The opening leg of the match set the tone as Smith hit five perfect darts but failed to take the leg when Cross took out a 107 checkout to steal it from under his nose. In a role reversal, Smith had the opportunity to take the second leg from Cross’ grasp but failed to do so.
Despite being comprehensively outscored, Smith fought back with three legs on the spin to the surprise of the reigning world champion.
As ever though, Cross dug in and remained calm as he continued in his fine fettle to win four straight legs of his own in the highest possible standard. ‘Voltage’ hit legs of 13, 12 and 13 darts before then taking out an 82 checkout as his average reached 111.
Smith failed to let this get the better of him, though, as he reeled off legs ten and eleven to take the match to a deciding leg.
At the most crucial of times, ‘Bully Boy’ cracked, however, with turns of 43 and 46. Cross took advantage and sealed the win with 16, D16.
Peter Wright 7-2 Raymond van Barneveld
Peter Wright secured only his second win of the campaign as he defeated Raymond van Barneveld, condemning the Dutchman to a double defeat in Sheffield.
For most of a low-quality contest Barney, it has to be said, looked disinterested and ‘Snakebite’, with an average of 95 to RvB’s extremely poor 86, took full advantage.
The quality of the match is perhaps best summed up by the fact that Barney sealed the opening leg in 21 darts. Wright then reeled off four consecutive leg which included a sensational 132 checkout in leg five as the Scot hit two bulls and D16 in an exhibition-style shot.
Van Barneveld was able to win his second and final leg with 76 in leg six but then fell victim to another run of legs lost as he slid to his second defeat on the night.
Wright, who almost bust a 60 checkout attempt as he narrowly avoided missing the treble 20, was nowhere near his glittering best but confidence will still be taken from a win nonetheless which could perhaps kickstart his play-off push.