VAN GERWEN CONTINUES HOT STREAK AS FIVE BATTLE TO AVOID ELIMINATION IN BETWAY PREMIER LEAGUE
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN produced a thrilling display to win his all-Dutch clash with Raymond van Barneveld in the Betway Premier League in Dublin on Thursday, as defeats for the reigning champion, Kim Huybrechts, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright and Stephen Bunting kept the battle to avoid elimination running.
World number one van Gerwen's amazing year continued as he maintained his unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a sixth win in eight games, averaging an imperious 108.71.
Van Gerwen also missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during an explosive start to the match as he took a 3-0 lead, and though van Barneveld showed his qualities to pull back to 4-2, a 160 checkout sealed victory for the league leader.
"It was a fantastic performance," said van Gerwen. "We both played really well and the only disappointing thing for me in the game was the nine-darter! The trebles are going in really well and that's more important than the double 12 and the nine-darter. I'm playing fantastic darts, and even though I can play better I am happy with this."
The defeat means that van Barneveld remains in the thick of an intriguing battle to avoid elimination, with the bottom two players in the league table following next week's Judgment Night in Manchester exiting the tournament.
Kim Huybrechts remains two points adrift of van Barneveld and Lewis at the foot of the table after he lost out 7-4 to Phil Taylor, who averaged 104.04 and replied from a 106 checkout from the Belgian to level in leg eight with three straight legs.
Huybrechts now faces a must-win clash with Bunting in Manchester on Judgement Night, although he was left to rue a slip in leg ten against Taylor when, needing 100, a single one with his first dart denied him the chance to draw level once again.
"Kim played pretty well and his finishing was good but he let me in when he missed that 100," admitted Taylor. "It was nip and tuck so I'm happy to have come out with the win. It was a tough game but I enjoyed it. I had a 104 average this week and won and a 115 average last week and lost, which doesn't make sense, but that's the game now and there were a lot of nerves on this week. I can relax next week now but I'm really looking forward to playing Dave Chisnall in Manchester."
Lewis remains on five points, alongside van Barneveld, following his 7-2 loss to Dave Chisnall as the 2014 Grand Slam of Darts finalist averaged just over 100 and finished half of his 14 darts a a double.
"I didn't happen for me tonight," said Lewis. "Double top let me down on a few occasions and double five pulled me out of the bag a couple of times, and it's difficult to deal with."
Chisnall said: "I'm happy with that. Adrian wasn't at his best and he missed a few doubles, but I capitalised on that - sometimes you need a bit of luck and timing, and today I had both of those. I've not played my best darts in the last couple of weeks but I put it right this week. I was confident that I could get the win and I managed to get the victory. I've done everything right in preparation and it paid off because once I got into the lead I didn't look back, and I can't wait for Manchester next week now."
Wright and Bunting sit only a point above van Barneveld and Lewis and remain under pressure going into Judgement Night following their defeats in Dublin.
Wright went down 7-3 to James Wade, with the 2009 champion taking out 124 as he took a 3-0 lead before pulling clear from 4-3 up to seal the win.
"Peter's had some really good results in the last few weeks and I was expecting more from him but he wasn't at his best and I'm very happy to have won that game," said Wade. These are the hard games to win, when things are going as they were tonight. I hit double five with my last dart a couple of times and those darts are harder to hit than a double to win a TV title. Every single leg was a battle. It's two very important points for me, as they would have been for Peter, and I think it was a bad day at the office for him. I was the one lucky enough to get the result and I'll just move on to the next game."
Bunting, meanwhile, was a 7-4 loser against Gary Anderson, who took out 152 and 134 in the early stages before coming from 4-3 down to reel off four straight legs and take the points to remain second in the table.
"Stephen did quite well and I made a mess of a couple of legs there but it's a good win," said Anderson. "Stephen could have won that game but I used to give games like that away and I'll take that one. It's a learning curve for Stephen playing in front of great crowds like this, and this is one of the best arenas in the world of darts so to get two points here is great. I'm going alright - to be second is good because I've been in the bottom two a few times before so I can relax on Judgement Night next week!"