Night 14 of the Unibet Premier League visited Birmingham on Thursday evening as the penultimate night of the league phase took place at Arena Birmingham.
‘Snakebite’ Peter Wright kicked off the evening with an assuring 7-4 victory over the Aussie Simon Whitlock.
Snakebite took full advantage of some crucial misses from the Aussie on the doubles as he raced into a 2-0 lead early on. Snakebite did open up a 5-2 lead as he produced a string of sub-15 dart legs. But, ‘The Wizard’ moved within two legs of the World no.2 as he punished some slack visits from Snakebite. But, Wright completed the job with a 14-dart leg on the back of a 118 finish to see off Whitlock in what was a quite assuring win for the colourful Mendham-based star.
In the second match of the evening, the World no.1 Michael van Gerwen continued to raise the bar in terms of standard as he blew away the reigning World Champion Rob Cross in what was a convincing 7-2 victory for MVG. But, what a display it was from the World no.1 as he recorded a mind-boggling 111.57 average. The Green machine raced into a 4-0 lead whilst averaging over 120. But, fair play to Cross as he maintained a very high standard in his play as he averaged over 101 despite winning just two legs. Cross took his chances when they were presented to him as he hit 2/4 of his doubles attempted. After the first six legs, MVG’s record-breaking 123.4 average was under serious threat as he was piling into the treble 20 bed with enormous regularity. Van Gerwen completed the rout with an 86 finish on the bull. Van Gerwen’s 111 average, and his first 9 average of 129.48 highlighted just how relentless he was in his play as he tops the league phase for the sixth year in succession. Phil Taylor currently holds the record with seven consecutive Premier League phase wins.
In the penultimate match of the evening, Daryl Gurney and Michael Smith shared the spoils in what was a topsy-turvy sort of contest. Gurney was slow out of the blocks in this one as Smith moved into a 4-2 lead. But, Superchin flew through the gears as he produced a string of astonishing legs of darts as he moved 6-5 ahead. Gurney produced finishes of 147 & 167 en route to securing a point. The deciding leg seen Smith fire in an 81 finish on the bullseye to share the spoils in Birmingham. The draw all but ended Gurney’s hopes of a place at the o2, although he’s still mathematically still in the run-in.
In the final game of the evening, Raymond van Barneveld turned on the heat as he seen off Gary Anderson in what was a convincing 7-3 victory for the Dutch five-time World Champion. Van Barneveld raced into a 3-0 lead over the Scot as he produced some scintillating stuff to stun the former two-time World Champ. Anderson did fire in an 11-dart leg to reduce the deficit to 5-2, but it proved to be too late as RVB produced a 12-darter which was closely followed by a 13-darter to secure a memorable victory over the flying Scot.
UNIBET PREMIER LEAGUE
NIGHT 14 – BIRMINGHAM
Peter Wright 7-4 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Rob Cross
Daryl Gurney 6-6 Rob Cross
Raymond van Barneveld 7-3 Gary Anderson
Photo credit : Lawrence Lustig / PDC