2018 Unibet Premier League – Night Three Round-Up

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

World number one Michael van Gerwen brilliantly beat two-time world champion Gary Anderson in a Premier League classic on Night Three in Newcastle as Simon Whitlock and Michael Smith kept their 100% runs going and Rob Cross got off the mark with victory over Peter Wright.

Mensur Suljovic 2-7 Michael Smith

The night’s entertainment kicked off with another highly impressive victory for Michael Smith, who maintained his 100% winning record in the 2018 Premier League and rejoined fellow pacesetter Simon Whitlock at the top of the standings.

Smith got away quickly, earning an early 2-0 lead before the Austrian Suljovic pegged him back to level things at two legs apiece. In a subdued match, both players struggled to find a top gear however it was Smith who did enough to win.

From 2-2 mid-match the St Helens thrower reeled off five straight legs to win, largely thanks to a supreme efficiency on the doubles – hitting seven out of his eleven attempts.

Smith may have only averaged 95 and it may have been only the second time since 2010 that no 180s were thrown in a Premier League match, but ‘Bully Boy’ did enough to carry his superb run on.

Daryl Gurney 6 – 6 Gerwyn Price

Welshman Gerwyn Price produced another determined fightback to get a point out of his contest with Daryl Gurney.

Trailing 5-1, ‘The Iceman’ won five out of six legs, seemingly out of nowhere, to deny Gurney the victory.

In building a 5-1 advantage Northern Irishman Gurney looked good on both his doubles and in his scoring power however Price worked his way back into the game with a succession of impressive checkouts, including a 148 barnstormer.

In leg eleven Price, under real pressure with Gurney waiting on a handy finish, hit a 136 checkout to take the match to the last leg. What had looked impossible shortly before was sealed when Price hit double 12 to share the spoils in a match that was, in the end, relatively even.

Peter Wright 4-7 Rob Cross

World champion Rob Cross finally got his campaign up and running with a much-needed victory over world number two Peter Wright by seven legs to four.

This was a much-improved performance from ‘Voltage’, fresh off of the back of reaching a final and two semi-finals at UK Open Qualifiers at the weekend, who displayed significantly more confidence and bravery in his throwing than at any stage in the tournament to date.

Cross raced into an early 3-0 lead, ensuring ‘Snakebite’ did not get a dart at double until the fourth leg of the match.

Despite losing the next two legs to an improving Wright, Cross always held the lead and, with his 98.46 average and 4 180s, managed to keep the former Premier League runner-up at bay throughout.

Cross missed 15 darts at double in the match however Wright, despite averaging 102 and with 44% on his doubles, failed to capitalise and left Newcastle empty handed as a result.

Following the match there was an encounter between the pair with Wright visibly angered by something ‘Voltage’ had done and refusing to shake his hand.

Gary Anderson 3-7 Michael van Gerwen

In an absolute classic, Michael van Gerwen returned to winning ways after his defeat at the hands of Peter Wright last week by beating Gary Anderson 7-3.

In a match full of high scores and extraordinary checkouts, both players averaged in excess of 110, for only the second time in the history of the Premier League, as the crowd were treated to the best match of this year’s tournament so far, one which was played at a crazy breakneck speed.

After a topsy turvy opening few legs it was leg five that really enthralled all in the Metro Radio Arena. MvG hit seven perfect darts before missing D19 and giving Anderson a sniff. This sniff of a chance, a 170 checkout, was then taken out by ‘The Flying Scotsman’ to the sheer delight of all in attendance.

Unfortunately for Anderson, the 170 would be the last checkout he hit as van Gerwen then ran off four straight legs to win the match. Ultimately, with 25% on the doubles, the Scot missed far too many opportunities to win legs which MvG, with 58% on his doubles, ruthlessly exploited and made Anderson pay for.

Simon Whitlock 7-4 Raymond van Barneveld

Aussie Simon Whitlock continued his superb start to the 2018 Premier League as he regained his lead at the top of the table with a 7-4 victory over an out-of-sorts Raymond van Barneveld.

Having been favourite to finish bottom of the standings with the pre-tournament odds, Whitlock has proved all doubters wrong so far with his performances, beating Barney, Rob Cross and Mensur Suljovic all while looking extremely comfortable back on the Premier League stage.

Against an off-colour RvB it was ‘The Wizard’s’ finishing that proved the difference. While Whitlock took the majority of his chances in the match, hitting seven out of 12 attempts, Barney missed 10 of his 14 doubles attempts.

While not the highest quality affair, it will not bother Whitlock one bit. Another solid performance, doing enough to win, has almost certainly already guaranteed his safety when elimination night comes around and will have the Australian already thinking of reaching Play-Off Night in May.