Gary Anderson, Michael van Gerwen and Daryl Gurney all pulled off commanding wins as the Premier League Darts season resumed…
Gary Anderson, Michael van Gerwen and Daryl Gurney all pulled off commanding wins as the Premier League Darts season resumed in Milton Keynes on Tuesday.
The first of six consecutive nights at the Marshall Arena saw the league resume following an enforced five-month absence as Van Gerwen reclaimed top spot and Gurney got off the mark.
Gurney had begun Night Seven three points adrift of Rob Cross and Gerwyn Price, but defeats for his relegation rivals allowed the Northern Irishman to cut that gap to just one point as he defeated a below-par Chris Dobey 7-2.
Dobey had been set to be the tournament’s Challenger on the original Night Seven in Newcastle, but failed to settle in Milton Keynes as Gurney capitalised to claim his first victory of the season.
“I put myself under a lot of pressure and I’ve got the win so I’ve given myself a chance now,” said Gurney, who averaged 86.8 to Dobey’s disappointing 79.
“Practice-wise I’m playing better than ever so I’m disappointed with how I played. It wasn’t the way I wanted to win – I wanted to play well and I’m not taking my practice game onto stage.
“I’m only a point now behind Rob and Gezzy and I’ve given myself a chance. If I can get a result against Nathan Aspinall then I can put the pressure on, and hopefully I can put a good performance in.”
Cross saw his Premier League hopes suffer a further setback as Van Gerwen stormed a 7-2 victory to regain top spot on legs difference.
Cross secured an early break to lead 2-1, but Van Gerwen pulled away with six straight legs, including a killer 87 finish on the bull for a 12-darter as he quickly sealed the points with a 103 average.
“This is good for my confidence and I’m pleased,” said Van Gerwen, who bounced back from his shock Second Round exit to Simon Whitlock in the World Matchplay last month at the same venue.
“I had a massive disappointment at the World Matchplay but to come back and do this is a massive step forward. I’ve invested a lot of time into my practice routine and this is something I can build on.
“I was dominant and did the right things at the right moments. My scoring power was there and I feel good, but there is more in the tank.”
Van Gerwen has edged into top spot in the league table ahead of Wednesday’s opponent Glen Durrant – who scrambled to a six-all draw with Peter Wright.
Durrant took out 101 as he opened up a 3-1 lead, but Wright followed a 108 checkout with clinical finishes of 170 and 120 as he moved 6-4 up.
However, the reigning World Championed failed to close out the win following a costly miscount in the final leg which allowed Duzza to snatch a share of the spoils.
“I felt I was in charge of the match but I’m playing the World Champion and he’s a phenomenal player, as he showed with the 170 finish,” said Durrant, who averaged 102.4 to Wright’s 100.
“My scoring was good but I need to work on a little bit of finishing. I’m glad I’m off and running and I’ve got a huge game on Wednesday against Michael van Gerwen.
“I feel good going into one of the biggest nights of my life – playing the best player in the world is what darts is all about. The winner goes top of the league and I’m super-excited about the game.”
Wright joked: “If only I could count!
“It was just brain freeze, for some reason I wanted to leave double seven and I thought it I hit 13 it left me double seven, but obviously it didn’t.
“I was playing the player who was top of the league and has done fantastic in the Premier League this year.”
Gary Anderson moved above Michael Smith in the league table with an impressive 7-3 victory, averaging 109 – the season’s second-highest tally – as he picked up a third victory of the campaign.
Smith landed seven 180s in the contest, but paid for 13 missed darts at a double as Anderson bounced back from his loss in the World Matchplay final in style, finishing seven doubles from eight attempts as a change of darts paid dividends.
Smith shared a high-quality opening six legs despite checkouts of 124 and 87 from Anderson, who then reeled off four straight legs – including a key 90 on the bull – for the win.
“It’s a very good start,” said Anderson. “Compared to how I’ve been playing I’m over the moon with how that went – the darts were going a lot better than in the World Matchplay.
“I’ve played with this design before. The darts felt right, the straight barrelled darts were slipping out of my hand but the scallop on these means I can get them in the same place every time.”
“Michael missed a few doubles but when he did, I was there on his tail and took them out.”
Gerwen Price was defeated 7-4 by Nathan Aspinall as the 2019 UK Open champion ensured his status in the second half of the season by coming from 3-1 down to claim the win.
Price started the stronger, with a 73 finish for a 14-darter seeing him break throw in leg three as he took command, but he paid as three misses in leg six allowed Aspinall to draw level.
The Stockport ace punished two further missed doubles in leg eight, and though a 132 finish kept Price in the contest it was Aspinall who closed out the win with a 108 checkout.
“I love playing Gezzy, he brings the best out of me but without a crowd it’s hard for players like us,” said Aspinall. “He struggled, I struggled at the start but I dug deep.
“I’ve worked on a few things since the World Matchplay to try and play the game at my best, and to get the two points that secure me in the second phase of the Premier League season is great.
“I’ve learned a few things from tonight and hopefully I can kick on. I threw some good stuff at times and I got the win, which was the most important thing.”
Premier League Darts 2020 Results
Tuesday August 25
Night Seven – Milton Keynes
Michael Smith 3-7 Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Rob Cross
Nathan Aspinall 7-4 Gerwyn Price
Chris Dobey (C) 2-7 Daryl Gurney
Peter Wright 6-6 Glen Durrant