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Premier League Darts 2020 Night 12 preview and order of play: Van Gerwen aims to close the gap

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Van Gerwen storms past Smith as Durrant maintains four-point cushion at the top of the Premier League

Jamie Shaw in Premier League Darts 30 Aug 2020
Defending champion MVG celebrates (Photo Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Michael van Gerwen roared back to winning ways in the Premier League with an 8-5 success over Michael Smith on Sunday, as Glen Durrant cemented his four-point lead at the top of the pile.

Van Gerwen entered the clash having lost three of his last four games, but the defending champion resumed normal service with a 102.3 average in seeing off Smith.

Smith kicked off with a break of throw in the opening leg, taking out 117, before Van Gerwen broke back immediately to level.

Successive legs saw Van Gerwen move 3-1 ahead before checkouts of 110 and 80 helped him on the way to a commanding 6-2 advantage.

The Englishman did close the gap to two legs and he took out 145 to make it 6-4, but the following leg saw Van Gerwen take out 114 to maintain control.

Smith pegged back again with double ten, but world number one went on to secure the victory with a 72 checkout for a 14-darter.

“Confidence is so important and I have to be happy with how I played in this game,” said Van Gerwen.

“There is always pressure on my shoulders, especially when I lose but now after this win I can show everyone that I am playing well again.

“Every player in this building knows I am the best dart player and I don’t need to show them that but sometimes in life you have to come through bad stages and that is what makes you the best.

“I of course want to the top of the table but I need to win my games and hope some good players can beat Glen but the most important thing for me is to make the play-offs.”

Table-topper Durrant defeated Gurney 8-3 to remain four points clear at the top of the table and all but secure a play-off place on 19 points.

Red hot debutant Durrant extended his incredible unbeaten run to eight matches, averaging 102 with four 180s in a dominant display to keep Gurney rooted to the foot of the table.

The three-time BDO World Champion stormed to the opening seven legs without reply, and despite Gurney reeling off three in a row to fight back, ‘Duzza’ sealed the deal on tops to continue his charge.

“If you had asked me my targets before tonight I would have said just get in to the top four but now the goal is to win it,” said Durrant.

“I’ve had a brilliant year or so but I’ve won nothing yet and that is all I want now, that one trophy to show what a good player I am.

Durrant is bidding to become only the third man ever to finish top of the league at the conclusion of the group phase, joining Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen, and has his sights set on that feat.

He added: “I’m playing the best I have ever played and feel like I am finishing better than anyone else in the world, to top the league would be a dream come true but there is a lot of work left to do.”

Gerwyn Price averaged 106.83, his highest ever in the Premier League, as he defeated Peter Wright 8-6 in a match that also saw the World Champion miss double 12 for another nine-darter.

Wright, who had achieved the perfect leg the previous evening, looked set to make in two in as many nights, but missed double 12 in leg seven to secure the £50,000 bonus.

Despite the miss for Wright it was Price who claimed the two points and moved in to a play-off place with a fourth win in five.

The only break of the match came in leg five as the Welshman took out 74 to lead 3-2, an advantage he was able to maintain for the remainder of the contest.

Finishes of 127 and 128 later in the encounter also capped a memorable win for Price who secured the victory over the world number two the night after beating world number one Van Gerwen the night before.

“I’m still here fighting for a place in the play-offs and that is probably my best ever performance in the Premier League,” said Price.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Peter and I thought we both played really well there but I’ve got to look forward now and try and win as many as I can.

“I knew coming in to this run of nights there were a lot of points on offer and that’s still the case so I’ve still got a great chance on making the finals.”

Meanwhile, Gary Anderson boosted his hopes of a play-off spot following an 8-6 victory over Nathan Aspinall to move into second spot.

The Scot appeared fired up following his failure to press home a 7-3 lead in an eventual draw with Durrant on Saturday and raced out of the blocks and into a 3-0 lead, averaging 125.

Anderson made it 4-1 before Aspinall reeled off three on the spin to level, producing finishes of 108 and 90 in the process.

The two-time world champion managed to keep his opponent at arm’s length and Aspinall was unable to get a dart at a double in the final leg to salvage a point.

“I was fuming with myself last night because I should have beaten Glen but I let him back in and I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen tonight,” said Anderson.

“Last night was a disgrace and I usually play well when I’m cheesed off.

“There’s life in the old dog yet so I’ll keep on going and see how we get on.”

The Unibet Premier League will now take a two day break before returning on Wednesday for the first of four consecutive nights to culminate the race for the play-offs.

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Premier League 2020 Darts Results

Sunday August 30

Gary Anderson 8-6 Nathan Aspinall
Gerwyn Price 8-6 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 8-5 Michael Smith
Glen Durrant 8-3 Daryl Gurney