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Smith delights Dublin with Premier League nine-darter as Van Gerwen denies home hero O’Connor

Jamie Shaw in Premier League 28 Feb 2020
Smith celebrates a slice of history (Photo by Stephen Lee/PDC)

Michael Smith produced a spectacular nine-darter on his way to victory over Daryl Gurney in Dublin, while Michael van Gerwen ensured their would be no fairy-tale upset for William O’Connor.

Smith ended the three-year wait for a perfect leg in the Unibet Premier League as he struck sensationally on his way to a 7-5 win over Northern Ireland’s Gurney at the 3Arena.

The world number five followed up back-to-back 180s with a quick-fire 141 checkout to land his first televised nine-darter and send the 9,000-strong crowd wild.

Smith went on to seal a hard-fought win to become one of four players sat on five points in a congested league table and leave Gurney rooted to the bottom.

“It’s a feeling you can’t explain – it’s amazing,” said Smith. “I’ve never hit a nine-darter on TV before and this was special. I’ve never felt my heart beat so fast in my life!

“It’s something on my list that I’ve ticked off my checklist now and I’m over the moon, but even more pleased to get the win too.

“I could have played better but I’m just chuffed to get the win.”

Smith has now put himself in contention to claim a £50,000 bonus from sponsors Unibet should a player achieve two nine-darters during the tournament.

Elsewere, Van Gerwen denied Challenger William O’Connor a victory in front of his home fans with a 7-4 success to return to the top of the league table on leg difference ahead of Aspinall.

Van Gerwen denied O’Connor a dream debut win (Photo by Stephen Lee/PDC)

Limerick’s O’Connor – who enjoyed a spine-tingling walk-on – pulled back from 3-1 down to level after six legs, only for Van Gerwen to pull clear in the final stages.

“It was a phenomenal atmosphere tonight and I think for William it was like my first time playing in Rotterdam,” said Van Gerwen.

“I’ve had a lot of good games against him in the past and he played okay tonight. It was tough for me and I had to fight for this win so I’m happy.

“There’s more in the tank but I feel good and it’s nice to be back on top of the table.”

O’Connor was the fourth of the nine Challengers to take to the Premier League stage, and the World Cup finalist admitted it was an unforgettable experience.

“Regardless of the result, it’s the best night of my life,” said O’Connor. “I’ve a lot to learn from tonight and it will definitely hold me in good stead for the future.

“I’ve had a fantastic night. It’s a pity the result went the way it did but I played the world number one in my home country. It was everything that I could have wished for.”

Nathan Aspinall moved above Glen Durrant in the table with a 7-5 win in a match dominated by missed doubles.

Durrant took out 144 on the way to a 3-1 advantage but the pivotal moment in the match saw him squander eight darts at doubles in leg five as Aspinall punished and clawed his way back to parity.

Durrant then led 4-3 before Aspinall finished 85 and a key 129 to move himself ahead for the first time.

Durrant punished three missed doubles from the UK Open champion to level in leg ten, but double seven secured Aspinall a minimum of a point before he followed a 177 with an 88 checkout to seal a third win of the season.

“I’m a happy guy,” said Aspinall. “The start wasn’t good but Glen let me off with some missed doubles. The 129 was a massive shot and I knew it, and in patches I played well.

“I’ve never played well against Glen but I had a bit of luck tonight at crucial times and I got the job done. I’m in a good position at the moment and I want to build on this.”

Gerwyn Price moved into third place in the table with a ruthless 7-1 demolition of an out of sorts Peter Wright – who shared the opening two legs before seeing the Welsh ace reel off six in a row, including a ten-darter.

“It’s a very good win for me,” said Price. “I’ve had three draws so it’s nice to get the win and get my campaign underway, and I feel like I’m in the tournament now.

“I was a bit edgy and I wasn’t at my best, but I’ll take a 7-1 win over Peter any day of the week. Peter wasn’t scoring well and he didn’t perform tonight, but he will come back from this.”

Gary Anderson picked up his second victory of the season by seeing off Rob Cross 7-5, jumping above the 2019 Premier League finalist in the process.

Anderson took out finishes of 109 and 106 as he shared the opening eight legs before taking out 85 to move ahead, while a 14-darter secured at least a draw.

Cross took out a superb 128 bull finish to hit back, but was unable to check out 124 in the decider as Anderson returned to land double ten for the triumph.

“Some of it was pretty and some of it was awful, but it’s nice to scrape a win there,” said Anderson.

“I’m still making mistakes but there’s times that the throw is working and it will come good.

“It’s going well on the practice board and I want to take it up on stage. My darts are getting a bit better week by week – tonight wasn’t quite as good but that was down to the person throwing them!”

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Premier League Darts 2020 Results

Night Four – Thursday February 27

Glen Durrant 5-7 Nathan Aspinall
Rob Cross 5-7 Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney 5-7 Michael Smith – *Smith hits a nine-darter*
William O’Connor 4-7 Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price 7-1 Peter Wright