Simon Whitlock pulled off the result of the night in Manchester as he defeated the in-form Gary Anderson to give Daryl Gurney hope in the race for the final play-off spot and a place at the 02 on Finals Night.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld’s chances of reaching the final four shootout ended as he failed to defeat world champion Rob Cross while Michael van Gerwen suffered his third straight Premier League winless match before recovering with a big victory in the second of his two matches on the night.
Michael Smith demolished Peter Wright by seven legs to one in the night’s opening game before suffering defeat by the same margin to round off matters at Manchester Arena.
Peter Wright 1-7 Michael Smith
Peter Wright was yet again on the receiving end of a 7-1 demolishing as Michael Smith kicked off the night in scintillating form.
Five perfect darts in his first two turns set the tone for ‘Bully Boy’ as he launched an immediate assault on his opponent and the dartboard with a 12-dart break in the opening leg. The St Helens man then followed this up with a 13-dart hold, another break on tops and then a brilliant 128 checkout to hold a commanding 4-0 advantage.
Wright may have been able to then fight back with a 100 checkout but this was academic as Smith then reeled off three more consecutive legs for the victory, including hitting another fantastic ton plus checkout, 126, in leg seven. The victory all but confirms Smith’s place at the 02 in May.
Daryl Gurney 6-6 Michael van Gerwen
In the face of a 105 average from Michael van Gerwen, Daryl Girney delivered a brilliant performance to earn a draw and put the Dutchman’s winless Premier League streak up to three.
Van Gerwen started frighteningly quickly with checkouts of 130 and 74 back-to-back in taking a 2-0 lead. Gurney, in what would prove a theme, showed grit and determination to claw his way back in leg three with a 107 checkout.
In fact, the Northern Irishman worked his way back to take the lead with consecutive 76 checkouts in legs six and seven, much to the dismay of a van Gerwen who was far outscoring his opponent.
Leg nine appeared to be a crucial turning point as MvG broke Gurney’s throw on tops after ‘SuperChin’ hit single one when going for one dart at double top. Immediately though, an outrageously good response came from Gurney as he hit a sensational 156 checkout to level once more at 5-5.
Next, Gurney piled the pressure on his opponent with a superbly timed double 16 but it was not enough to earn the win as D8 secured a share of the spoils from van Gerwen. Gurney produced great timing and clutch doubles to earn a draw in the face of super high scoring though.
Simon Whitlock 7-5 Gary Anderson
In the big surprise of the night, Australian Simon Whitlock defeated the in-form man, Gary Anderson, who was error strewn and outplayed in the end.
From the off, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was out of sorts and ‘The Wizard’ took advantage with a solid showing. In leg two, poor counting cost Anderson as he hit 16 second dart with 58 left leaving the door open to Whitlock, who hit 88 to take a 2-0 lead.
Anderson would win the next two legs before losing the following two and then winning the two after that as the game ebbed and flowed in cyclical nature. Whitlock then carried the trend on by winning the next two legs to secure a draw, the best of the action in leg ten as the Aussie went double double, hitting D18, D18 to complete a wonderful 92 checkout.
There was time for one final bit of Anderson resistance as he went 25, 60, bull for a 135 checkout but, after missing a dart for the draw in the final leg, Whitlock rounded off a great win with a 70 finish. The result opens up the race for fourth a little, giving Daryl Gurney the chance to sneak his way in.
Raymond van Barneveld 6-6 Rob Cross
Raymond van Barneveld’s quest for a top four place ended with a draw against world champion Rob Cross, having needed to win all of his last three games to stand any chance of reaching Finals Night at the O2.
The match started in sluggish fashion as both players were slow to get going. The first real spark of the match came in leg three as Cross took out a 72 checkout on the bullseye. The very next leg, van Barneveld messed up six darts from 132 to let Cross in to take a 3-1 lead.
Through the middle stages of the match, the authority switched this way and that as Barney fought his way back in before losing ground to Cross again and then pegging it back once more. From 4-2 behind, the Dutchman worked his way to 5-5 and two deciding legs.
In the first, van Barneveld capped three legs in a row with D16 after a 112 finish was narrowly missed by Cross. The final leg saw ‘Voltage’ take out the very same checkout to secure a point.
Michael Smith 1-7 Michael van Gerwen
After winning 7-1 in the night’s opening match, ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith came out on the receiving end of a 7-1 defeat against table topping Michael van Gerwen.
The match, in truth, was a lacklustre way to end the night as van Gerwen secured victory with a less than impressive 94.76 average and 39 per cent on the doubles. In a match where the highest checkout was tops, van Gerwen took an utterly commanding 6-0 lead although the score could not reflect the fact that both players were edgy and nervy.
‘Mighty Mike’ managed to gather some sort of control as the match wore on but he was still far from his best, nevertheless it was good enough to defeat a Michael Smith who, in a complete contrast with his first match of the night, lacked all composure.