TRIO TOP UNIBET PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AS ACTION RESUMES IN MILTON KEYNES
Dimitri Van den Bergh, Nathan Aspinall and Michael van Gerwen share the lead at the top of the Unibet Premier League after picking up wins as the tournament resumed in Milton Keynes on Monday.
The second block of action in the ten-player event began with the season's sixth league night, after which just four points separate nine players in a congested table.
While reigning champion Glen Durrant was pushed to the brink of elimination after enduring a sixth straight defeat, the battle at the other end of the table continued to rage.
Van den Bergh knocked Jonny Clayton off the top of the league table with a 7-3 defeat of the Masters champion in a top-quality tie where both players averaged over 102.
A super contest saw Van den Bergh move 2-1 and 3-2 up with breaks of throw, before Clayton levelled in leg six with a brilliant 121 bull finish.
The Belgian, though, responded by finishing 121 himself in leg seven - this time on double 14 - to regain the lead and then took out 104 to consolidate his lead before punishing missed doubles from Clayton in the next two to seal his third victory of the season.
"I loved it and I'm so happy with the win," said Van den Bergh. "I kept Jonny under pressure and he missed chances on his double, and I didn't.
"In the first six or seven legs it didn't feel like either of us were missing. I never expected to be top of the league so I'm happy. I'm proud and I've shown that I believe in myself."
Michael van Gerwen joined Van den Bergh on eight points with a 7-3 win over reigning champion Durrant, who suffered a sixth straight defeat.
Durrant took the opening leg as he began his challenge for a win to kick-start his season, but saw Van Gerwen take the next four to take command.
The reigning champion pulled back to 4-3, but Van Gerwen - aided by a change of dart - pulled clear with three straight legs for victory.
"This was a poor performance, but a win is a win," said Van Gerwen. "There is more in the tank but probably I wasn't busy enough with my own performance.
"I know what position Glen is in, and that made it so much harder - I was fighting against myself and I shouldn't have put myself in that position."
Aspinall joined that duo on eight points with a 7-3 defeat of Peter Wright to extend his unbeaten run to four matches.
Wright led 2-0 early on, but Aspinall won three in a row to fire his challenge before defying a 120 finish from the world number three to reel off four straight legs in securing the win.
"It was a massive win for me," said Aspinall. "It was important to kick this week off with a good result and I'm very happy to get the two points.
"I missed a few doubles but my scoring was great, and I've been working on that. I'm playing really well - a lot of people were writing me off before this Premier League started but I feel like I'm getting back to my best."
Gary Anderson sits in fifth place after joining Clayton on seven points with a 7-5 defeat of Rob Cross, who paid the price for two missed darts to claim a draw in the final leg of the night's opening fixture.
Four straight legs saw Anderson come from 2-1 down to lead 5-2, and though Cross hit back strongly to send the tie all the way, he was unable to land darts at double 18 and nine to share the spoils.
"At this stage any point will do, and it was good to get both tonight," said Anderson. "Rob was struggling but I let him back into the game in a couple of legs - if I'd played my normal game then I'd have been okay."
Jose de Sousa jumped above James Wade in the league table after defeating the 2009 Premier League champion 7-5 in a high-quality affair where both players missed just two darts each at a double.
De Sousa finished 110 in the opening leg to set the tone for the match, before breaking by finishing 85 on the bull for a 4-2 lead.
Wade hit back before De Sousa claimed back-to-back legs as an 11-darter moved him 6-3 up, with the left-hander finishing 70 and double eight to force a deciding leg.
The Grand Slam champion, though, produced another timely 11-darter as an 81 finish saw him pick up a second successive win.
"This is two important points for me," said De Sousa. "I'm happy with my game and I keep fighting, because it's so hard to play against these guys.
"I didn't miss many doubles and it was a good result, it makes me feel very happy. I think it's all about my doubles - but everything is possible."
Tuesday's Night Sevens sees Durrant facing De Sousa in a must-win tie, before Cross takes on Van den Bergh, Aspinall plays Clayton, Wright plays Wade and Van Gerwen resumes his rivalry with Anderson.
|101.91||5||7/9||de Sousa ||7:5||Wade||104.01||1||5/7|