2018 Unibet Premier League Darts: Week 2 Review

Unibet Premier League - Night Two Round-Up
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

World number two Peter Wright defeated two time World Champion Michael van Gerwen for the first time in the Premier League in the pick of the matches on night two in Cardiff as Rob Cross’ poor run of form continued with a 7-1 humbling at the hands of ‘The Wizard’ Simon Whitlock.

Elsewhere, ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith made it two wins out of two with an impressive win over Daryl Gurney while Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld both registered their first wins of the tournament.

Michael Smith 7-4 Daryl Gurney

In the opening match of the night ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith was victorious in a match of good standard against Daryl Gurney by seven legs to four.

Unlike in his one and only Premier League appearance to date in 2016, Smith has started this campaign well through a combination of good scoring and composure on the doubles.

Against Gurney, Smith raced into an early 3-0 lead, hitting a sublime 124 checkout along the way. Before long this advantage evaporated as the Northern Irishman pegged the man from St Helens back with a 13 dart leg alongside two 14 dart legs.

Smith, though, proved too good as he accelerated for the finishing line with his fourth 180 and displayed confidence in his finishing to oust Gurney. 44 per cent on the doubles and a 99.8 average from Smith as he maintained his 100 per cent start to the tourmament.

Rob Cross 1-7 Simon Whitlock

The World Champion delivered a completely out of sorts performance as he was crushed by Simon Whitlock on night two in Cardiff by seven legs to one.

Suffering his sixth straight defeat in all competitions, Cross began the match in shaky fashion and never managed to recover, averaging only a meagre 87 – ‘Voltage’s’ lowest in a TV match ever (excluding double start matches).

‘The Wizard’ may not have been at his best himself, averaging only 93 and hitting 38 per cent of his doubles, however he got the job done and, in doing so, continued to look comfortable again on the Premier League stage.

With leads of 2-0 and 4-1 before winning 7-1, the Australian was never threatened and joins Michael Smith at the top of the table after two impressive weeks.

Michael van Gerwen 5-7 Peter Wright

Unlike in Dublin, the showpiece match of the night lived up to its billing as world number two Peter Wright recorded his first ever premier League victory over reigning champion and world number one Michael van Gerwen.

Reverting back to his usual darts, Wright looked much comfortable and helped deliver an entertaining encounter where both men averaged 101.

The difference was in the finishing as Wright’s 58 per cent (7/12) far eclipsed van Gerwen’s 36 per cent (5/14). The Dutchman, in fact, had non-bullseye double attempts in all of the first seven legs of the match but failed to make most of them count.

Despite starting slowly, van Gerwen grew into the match and began to display his vast array of talents but for continued misses at important doubles which Wright managed to capitalise on. Leading 5-3 Wright piled the pressure on the Dutchman only for him to take out the big fish, with a stunning 170 checkout.

At this point, Wright could have buckled but he stood firm and took out crucial doubles efficiently to eventually end his Premier League hoodoo with van Gerwen, sealing the match by seven legs to five.

Gerwyn Price 3-7 Gary Anderson

Despite partisan home support behind him, Gerwyn Price proved no match for an in-form Gary Anderson who showed no signs of being troubled by the back injuries that have plagued him over recent months.

Even withstanding early Anderson misses at double, which the Welshman capitalised on, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ grew into the game and began to move through the gears, which Price could not keep up with.

Five 180s, a 99 average and 47 per cent on the doubles were the key figures behind Anderson’s dominance, helped by Price’s inability to up his own scoring game.

Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Mensur Suljovic

The final match of the evening was of a superb standard and was intensely fought with the Dutchman eventually squeezing through the winner by seven legs to five.

Despite trailing 3-1 and 5-2, the Austrian refused to let RvB have it easy, continuing to peg back ‘Barney’ just as it looked like he may break away for the finishing line.

For Suljovic, with an averaged of 102.55 it will be another case of “what if” after ‘The Gentle’ missed vital darts for legs that could have turned the game in his favour. Suljovic, with 103.11, has the highest average in the Premier League after two weeks but is still yet to register his first point after running into top performances from van Barneveld and Whitlock, displaying just how difficult the tournament is.

Nonetheless, it would have been harsh on ‘Barney’ too had he not come out with both points as the veteran Dutch thrower, averaging 100 himself, hit clutch shots when he had to, none more so than the sensational 167 checkout in leg four.