Jonny Clayton swept aside a below-par Michael van Gerwen on Night Nine of the 2021 Premier League, as Nathan Aspinall…
Jonny Clayton swept aside a below-par Michael van Gerwen on Night Nine of the 2021 Premier League, as Nathan Aspinall climbed to the top of the table.
The elite invitational reached its halfway stage at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on Thursday, with Clayton enjoying a return to winning ways.
The Welshman ended his three-game winless run in style, firing in five 180s and 100.25 average in a 7-3 rout of the five-time Premier League champion.
Clayton, who has won five of his last meetings with Van Gerwen, moves up to fifth in his impressive debut campaign.
“It’s nice to be back to winning ways, especially after last night when I got smashed off the board by James [Wade],” said Clayton.
“I just wanted to get back playing how I can and I’m so happy to beat such a class player. It’s always massive to win against Michael, whether it’s by one leg or four.
“I’m still loving every minute of this and I look forward to each time I play in this tournament.”
Aspinall leapfrogged Dimitri van den Bergh into top spot on legs difference after a 7-2 thrashing of Gary Anderson.
Last year’s runner-up Aspinall hit seven of his 11 double attempts in a clinical display which saw the former UK Open champion end the match with a 102.5 average.
Aspinall leads the way heading into the 13-day break between Nights Nine and Ten, while defeat for Anderson sees the two-time Premier League winner slip to eighth in the table.
“That was a very tough game,” Aspinall reflected. “Gary knows how much I look up to him, he was always my favourite player growing up.
“But I had a job to do tonight. It’s a great result and it gives my leg-difference a boost as well.
“My confidence is back. Every time I go on that stage I think I’m going to win again, I’m enjoying myself in this Premier League.”
Belgian debutant Van den Bergh was held to a 6-6 draw with James Wade – who fought back from 6-3 down to reel off the last three legs.
Van den Bergh looked on course for the two points as he nailed a 160 checkout to go 6-3 in front, but a typically resilient Wade hit back to seal a share of the spoils.
Wade, who averaged 102.93, maintains his place in the fourth, the final provisional qualifying place for the Play-Offs which will take place on May 28.
Jose de Sousa and Peter Wright also remain in the hunt for the Play-Off places after playing out a 6-6 draw.
Wright looked on course for victory as he opened up a 6-4 advantage, only for De Sousa to hit back with three trademark 180s across the next two legs which he won in 14 and 11 darts respectively to salvage a point.
The duo landed seven 180s apiece in a masterclass of scoring power, with Wright also producing a classy 139 checkout along the way.
The opening game of the night saw Rob Cross prevail 7-5 over Glen Durrant in the battle between two players already eliminated from the tournament.
Despite an improved display from Durrant, the reigning champion bows out of this year’s competition with nine losses from nine outings, while Cross finishes on seven points, the highest ever total to face elimination from the Premier League.
The Premier League resumes on Wednesday May 5 with Night Ten in Milton Keynes – the first of three consecutive league phase nights in the week.
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Premier League Darts 2021 Results
Night Nine – Thursday April 22
Glen Durrant 5-7 Rob Cross
Jonny Clayton 7-3 Michael van Gerwen
Nathan Aspinall 7-2 Gary Anderson
Jose de Sousa 6-6 Peter Wright
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-6 James Wade