PHIL TAYLOR, Michael van Gerwen, Robert Thornton and Raymond van Barneveld are locked at the top of the McCoy’s Premier League Darts table after picking up points in Exeter on Thursday, as Wes Newton left Adrian Lewis marooned at the foot of the standings.
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Wins for van Gerwen, Thornton and van Barneveld saw them join Taylor on six points in the leauefollowing the fourth league night, which saw reigning champion Taylor draw with 2009 winner James Wade at the Westpoint Arena.
Both Taylor and Wade averaged over 100 in a superb contest, with the Stoke great using a brand new set of darts but showing all his quality in taking a 6-4 cushion before the left-hander hit back by winning the final two legs to secure a point.
“I fancied a change of darts and I got these darts on Wednesday,” revealed Taylor. “I like the darts, they feel good and they’re nice, so with a bit of match practice in the next couple of weeks I’ll improve, but I’m pleased with a draw. tonight.
“James took out a couple of great finishes, especially the 80 at the end to get a draw, but I enjoyed the game and I’m loving every minute of the league.”
Wade’s draw sees him move onto five points in the league table to continue his strong start to the season, and he admitted: “It’s a good point and I’m happy with that.
“I didn’t think as well as my average shows, but I felt I had bundles more to come out, and I know it will come out eventually. I used to say that you don’t need to practice but in the last three months I’ve learned to do that.
“I’m more confident in myself and I believe that I can contest this title. I felt I threw five bad legs and I’ve still come out with a point, and I’m enjoying it at the moment.”
Taylor sits at the head of the table ahead of Dutch rival van Gerwen, who powered to a 7-2 win in his clash with Andy Hamilton, hitting five 180s in the game’s final six legs to remain unbeaten in his debut Premier League season.
“It’s a very important win because Andy’s always very tough to play against,” said van Gerwen. “It’s a difficult game because Andy’s a slow player and I’m a fast player, but I did my job very well tonight and got the win.
“In the first leg I couldn’t find my rhythm and after that I think I played quite well and I enjoyed myself.
“I’ve not lost a game yet and that’s great for me. I just want to keep winning my games and to get to the semi-finals in May.”
Grand Slam of Darts champion van Barneveld sits behind Taylor and van Gerwen on leg difference after he defeated Simon Whitlock 7-3 in their clash at Exeter’s Westpoint Arena.
Whitlock hit six 180s in the game, but van Barneveld took out a key 104 finish in hitting half of his darts at a double as he picked up a third victory of the season.
“I’m really pleased with the win tonight,” said van Barneveld. “I hit some crucial finishes there and I’m really happy with my finishing.
“It’s tight in the league table but I think any player would take three wins from their first four games, and I’m targeting a place in the semi-finals. It’s definitely the best Premier League ever and I like the new system.”
Robert Thornton joined the trio on six points as he continued his impressive start to his first Premier League season with his record televised average of 109.33 as he won his all-Scottish clash with Gary Anderson 7-2.
Thornton landed a ten-dart finish in a sensational display, with Anderson being restricted to only two darts at a double – as he took out finishes of 124 and 104 – during the contest.
“I’m speechless,” admitted Thornton. “It’s amazing to come up here and play like that, but I’m loving being in the Premier League and it’s an honour to be in this competition.
“It’s the best I’ve ever played but I knew I’d have to be good against Gary because he’s such a phenomenal player and his scoring is so good. I had to hit the ground running but it turned out I was sprinting!”
The night’s other game saw Wes Newton leave two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis two points adrift of Anderson at the foot of the league table, defeating the Stoke ace 7-3.
Newton recovered from a shaky opening to win four successive legs in taking a 4-1 lead, and he went on to close out his first Premier League victory.
“That’s the most nervous that I’ve ever been going into a match and it was a massive game for both of us, so I’m very thankful to get the win,” said Newton.
“That’s not the Adrian Lewis that everyone knows and I could see he was struggling, but I was trying so hard. When I got to six legs and Adrian pulled it back to 6-3 I was having flashbacks to when Robert Thornton grabbed a draw last week, so I’m pleased I managed to finish Adrian off there.”
The McCoy’s Premier League Darts will visit Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena next Thursday for the fifth league night, with the impending prospect of the bottom two players following nine weeks being relegated drawing ever closer.
Tickets are still available from www.capitalfmarena.com or by calling 0843 373 3000.
McCoy’s Premier League Darts
Night Four – Thursday February 28
Westpoint Arena, Exeter
Robert Thornton 7-2 Gary Anderson
Andy Hamilton 2-7 Michael van Gerwen
James Wade 6-6 Phil Taylor
Wes Newton 7-3 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 7-3 Simon Whitlock
Latest League Table
P W D L +/- LWAT Pts
Phil Taylor 4 2 2 0 +9 11 6
Michael van Gerwen 4 2 2 0 +9 9 6
Raymond van Barneveld 4 3 0 1 +8 11 6
Robert Thornton 4 2 2 0 +7 8 6
James Wade 4 2 1 1 +3 5 5
Andy Hamilton 4 2 0 2 -2 8 4
Wes Newton 4 1 1 2 -4 8 3
Simon Whitlock 4 1 0 3 -7 8 2!
Gary Anderson 4 1 0 3 -8 7 2
Adrian Lewis 4 0 0 4 -15 5 0
Robert Thornton v Gary Anderson
0-0 – Robert Thornton will throw first
1-0 – Thornton makes a confident start, hitting two 140s and taking the opening leg on double ten in 15 darts.
2-0 – Thornton’s fine opening continues as he kicks off with 140 and 180, before hitting a 105 and taking out 76 for a 12-darter to break.
3-0 – Thornton moves three legs up by landing two further 140s and hitting tops for a 13-darter.
4-0 – Thornton misses tops to win a fourth successive leg, but Anderson – on 84 – misses the single 14 which would have given him a dart at the bullseye, and his opponent returns to hit tops to break throw again.
4-1 – Anderson opens with a 180, but Thornton hits his second maximum of the game in reply, only to miss the bullseye to win a fifth straight leg, allowing the 2011 champion to get off the mark by taking out 124 on the bullseye – his first dart at a double in the game.
5-1 – Anderson leaves 32 as he bids to hit back further, but Thornton takes out 93 on double seven to regain his advantage.
6-1 – Thornton lands another 180 and takes out double 18 for a superb ten-dart finish to ensure he will remain unbeaten.
6-2 – Thornton posts his fourth maximum of the game, but Anderson keeps his hopes alive by taking out 104 on tops.
7-2 – Thornton finishes 118 to secure the win with a sensational 109.33 average.
Andy Hamilton v Michael van Gerwen
0-0 – Andy Hamilton will throw first
1-0 – Hamilton makes a brilliant start with a maximum, and finishes 66 on double 18 to win the opener.
1-1 – van Gerwen levels by finishing double ten, after Hamilton is unable to take out 139.
1-2 – van Gerwen breaks throw with double 16 for a 13-dart finish.
1-3 – van Gerwen hits a 180 as he wins a third successive leg.
1-4 – The Dutchman initially misses his chance, but Hamilton is off-target with three darts at double 16 and van Gerwen lands double four to break throw again.
2-4 – The pair trade 180s before Hamilton breaks back by finishing 100 on double ten.
2-5 – The youngster adds another maximum and posts double eight to move three legs clear.
2-6 – van Gerwen ensures he will remain unbeaten, hitting another 180 as he leaves 64 after nine darts before hitting tops to seal at least a draw.
2-7 – van Gerwen opens with his fith 180 of the game and lands double four to seal a brilliant win.
James Wade v Phil Taylor
0-0 – James Wade will throw first
1-0 – Wade hits double 16 to win the opening leg in 15 darts.
1-1 – Taylor – using a different style of barrel on his darts – misses double 16 initially, but when Wade misses tops to complete a 99 combination, the reigning champion returns to hit double eight at the third time of asking to level.
2-1 – Wade posts a 180 and finishes 85 in two darts on tops to continue his strong start.
2-2 – Taylor finishes 67 in two darts to square the game once more.
2-3 – Wade is unable to finish 110, and Taylor posts double 16 to break throw for the first time.
2-4 – Taylor opens the leg with 140 and 180, and although he initially misses three darts on the wire of double top, he returns to hit the bed and move two legs clear.
3-4 – Wade hits a 180 and then finishes 72 to reduce the game to one leg.
3-5 – Taylor finishes 94 on double eight to regain his cushion.
4-5 – Taylor scores 177, 140 and 134 to leave 50 after nine darts, but misses two darts at double 16, and Wade punishes him by taking out 68 on tops.
4-6 – Taylor posts double top to ensure that he will remain unbeaten.
5-6 – Wade opens with 180 and 134, with Taylor replying with a maximum and a 140 but only able to watch on as the 2009 champion finishes tops for an 11-darter to force a deciding leg.
6-6 – Taylor is unable to take out 142 but leaves 40, only for Wade to pin tops for an 80 checkout to grab a draw.
Wes Newton v Adrian Lewis
0-0 – Wes Newton will throw first
0-1 – Newton hits a 180 but misses four darts at double 16, and Lewis returns to hit double ten.
1-1 – Newton misses three further darts at doubles, this time at tops, but returns to hit the bed and level.
2-1 – Newton takes out 71 on tops.
3-1 – Newton hits tops once more to break throw again and move two legs clear.
4-1 – Lewis lands a maximum in reply, but Newton is first to a finish and hits double top once again to continue his run.
4-2 – Lewis hits back by taking out a seemingly effortless 117 on tops.
5-2 – Newton ends a 60 combination on double five to move three legs clear once more.
6-2 – Newton lands his second maximum of the game, and although he misses the bull and two further darts at doubles, he returns to post double four to ensure at least a point on the night.
6-3 – Lewis initially misses double seven, but Newton is unable to land double 14 for the match and the world number two hits the bed with his next attempt to keep his hopes alive.
7-3 – Newton opens with a maximum and is first to a finish, and although he misses double eight for a 96 finish, he returns to hit the bed at the third time of asking to seal his first Premier League win.
Raymond van Barneveld v Simon Whitlock
0-0 – Raymond van Barneveld will throw first
1-0 – van Barneveld wins the opener to settle any early nerves.
2-0 – The pair trade 180s before van Barneveld takes out 96 on double nine for a 12-dart finish.
2-1 – Whitlock fires in two maximums to leave 41 after nine darts, and although he initially misses two darts at double 16 the Australian returns to hit the bed to complete a 13-darter.
3-1 – van Barneveld takes out 60 on double ten to break through and move two legs clear.
4-1 – The Dutchman lands tops to push clear of his opponent.
4-2 – Double ten sees Whitlock hit back.
4-3 – van Barneveld misses double 18, and Whitlock finishes 30 with an improvised double ten, double five combination.
5-3 – van Barneveld recovers from a slow start in the leg by hitting two 180s to leave 24, and when Whitlock misses double 16 and eight the Dutch ace punishes him on double six.
6-3 – Whitlock lands another 180, but van Barneveld finishes 104 on double 16 to ensure at least a point from the game.
7-3 – Whitlock posts his seventh maximum, but van Barneveld finishes 70 on double 16 to ensure his third win of the season.