PHIL TAYLOR claimed his second victory of the Premier League Darts season with a 7-5 defeat of Dave Chisnall in Nottingham on Thursday, as Peter Wright continued his unbeaten start to the campaign against Simon Whitlock.
Taylor has found himself in the unusual position of being inside the Premier League’s bottom two after losing four of his opening five games, but kick-started his campaign by seeing off Chisnall.
The six-time Premier League Darts champion hit a 122 finish for a 12-darter as he established an early 3-1 cushion, before Chisnall hit back to level with a key 14-darter.
However, the World Grand Prix finalist could never edge ahead, as Taylor defied two 180s in a crucial 11th leg to move 6-5 up before punishing his opponent for missing the bull to grab a draw in the deciding leg by finishing double 16 for a 14-darter.
The win sees Taylor draw level with Chisnall on four points in the table, only one behind Robert Thornton and Wes Newton ahead of the final three weeks before Judgement Night, where the league’s bottom two players are relegated.
“I know my form is picking up and this is great for my confidence,” said Taylor. “Dave played well and hit some great 180s but missed a couple of doubles there in the last leg and let me in.
“I’m in a position I’ve never been in during my career and I’ve got to come out fighting. It’s a cruel game and it’s a very lonely place on stage, and if you’re not firing then your nerves start jangling and everything starts going through your mind.
“It’s been a difficult few weeks but I enjoyed this and I’ve got to go out there and do everything perfectly. That’s the attitude you have to have now.
“For me to stay at the top I’ve got to work twice as hard as everyone else. We’ve been altering the grip on my darts each week and experimenting and we’re getting there.”
Taylor’s win leaves Simon Whitlock two points adrift at the foot of the table after he suffered a fifth defeat of the season by going down 7-4 to Peter Wright, whose unbeaten run continued in style.
The World Championship finalist won the opening four legs without reply – hitting a superb 132 finish on the bull in that run – and though WHitlock hit back to 4-2 and also hit a 126 checkout during the game, Wright proved too clinical to claim the points.
“This was a great win for me,” said Wright. “It was a dream at first to stay unbeaten but now I’m getting to the stage that I don’t want to lose. I want to carry on trying to be unbeaten until at least the cut-off on Week Nine.
“I was practising my finishing hard after the UK Open at the weekend when I couldn’t hit a double, and I changed my darts to try and score more, so there’s plenty more to come with those darts – this was for starters.
“To be honest I didn’t feel like I got out of first gear. I was just up there enjoying myself and enjoying the crowd, and if Simon stepped up I might have had to step up.
“It’s good to know I’ve got more in the tank, especially with the guys I’ve got in the next couple of weeks; Raymond [van Barneveld], Gary [Anderson] and Michael [van Gerwen].”
Reigning Premier League Darts champion Michael van Gerwen remains just a point behind Wright after producing arguably the best performance of the season so far to defeat Wes Newton 7-1.
Van Gerwen averaged 105 and hit six 180s as he stormed to victory, although Newton – on his return to action after tonsillitis – averaged 103 in reply but paid the price for missing nine of his ten darts at a double in the game.
“I’m very happy with this performance,” said van Gerwen. “I think Wes produced his best performance of the Premier League this season but I wanted to put a good performance in and show everyone that I’m still in form and I did that.
“I felt really relaxed on stage and my first dart was going in the treble every time, and you saw what I can do tonight. I did well on my scoring and the first nine darts of each leg was amazing, but I got the result.
“I’ll get a lot of confidence from this and when you’re confident you play well.”
Raymond van Barneveld sits third in the league table on eight points following his draw with Thornton in Nottingham, with the Dutchman finding himself 6-5 down before snatching a point for the second week running in the deciding leg.
“It was like last week against Dave Chisnall and at the end I almost gave it away again, but Robert let me in and otherwise I was going away empty-handed,” said van Barneveld.
“My finishing helped me get the point but I’m not happy with my scoring, but I’m happy with a point.
“It’s a fantastic competition so far this year and everybody can beat each other, so you have to be focused every week. It’s a tough schedule for the next few weeks and this could be an important point for me.”
Adrian Lewis moved up to fourth in the table with his third victory of the season as he edged out 2011 Premier League champion Gary Anderson 7-5 in another see-saw contest.
Lewis led 4-1 early on, only for the Scot to win the next four legs to move in front, but Anderson paid the price for missed doubles in the tenth leg as the new UK Open champion levelled before also wasting his chance to grab a point with a further four misses in the decider.
“I started like a train but before I knew it I was fighting for a draw,” said Lewis. “I was dominating the game but I had a bit of luck at the end and can move on to next week now.
“It’s been a really tough week and winning the UK Open was hard because you have a couple of days off and then need to prepare for this, so I wanted to make sure I took something tonight.
“The point puts me in fourth position at the minute and I’m looking good to qualify for the second stage, and hopefully I can kick on and get another win next week now.”
The Betway Premier League Darts continues next Thursday with the seventh league night to be held at the new First Direct Arena in Leeds, with a crowd of up to 11,000 set to welcome the tournament to the city for the first time.
Tickets remain on sale by calling 0844 248 1585 or online through www.firstdirectarena.com
Betway Premier League Darts
Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
Simon Whitlock 3-7 Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis 7-5 Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen 7-1 Wes Newton
Raymond van Barneveld 6-6 Robert Thornton
Phil Taylor 7-5 Dave Chisnall
Simon Whitlock v Peter Wright
0-1 – Wright lands the game’s first 180, and after wiring the bull for a 161 finish he returns to pin double eight – after Whitlock had missed double 16 for a 102 finish.
0-2 – The league leader finishes 60 on tops to double his advantage.
0-3 – Wright takes out a spectacular 132 finish to break throw again, producing a superb bullseye finish after having to move across the oche to his right.
0-4 – Wright finishes a 13-darter on tops to move four legs clear.
1-4 – Whitlock lands double ten to pick up his first leg of the match.
2-4 – Wright misses the bull for an 87 finish, and Whitlock lands tops to break and continue his revival.
2-5 – Whitlock fires in a 180 to leave 68, but misses double 16 to complete the finish as Wright takes out 76 in two darts to break back and regain a three-leg lead.
2-6 – Wright ensures that he will remain unbeaten by taking out 92.
3-6 – Whitlock takes out 126 on the bull to save the game.
3-7 – Wright finishes 80 on double ten to secure his fourth victory of the season, which will keep him at the top of the league table.
Adrian Lewis v Gary Anderson
1-0 – Lewis finishes tops to win the game’s opening leg.
1-1 – Both players open with maximums, before Anderson finishes 100 on tops to level.
2-1 – Lewis hits a 180 and has enough cushion to initially miss six darts at double 16 before landing the bed to move back ahead.
3-1 – Anderson misses the bull for a 132 finish, and Lewis finishes tops to break.
4-1 – Lewis lands double eight to move three legs clear.
4-2 – Anderson hits back to reduce the gap to two legs.
4-3 – Anderson lands a second 180 of the game before hitting tops to break throw.
4-4 – Lewis wires the bull for a 164 finish, and Anderson lands tops to level the game.
4-5 – Anderson moves ahead by winning a fourth successive leg, with Lewis landing a 180 but missing two darts to win the leg before Anderson posts double ten.
5-5 – Anderson misses four darts at double top and ten, and Lewis levels on tops.
6-5 – Double 16 sees Lewis secure a point from the game.
7-5 – Anderson is first to a finish, but misses double eight to claim a draw and three further darts at double four and two, allowing Lewis in on tops to claim the win.
Michael van Gerwen v Wes Newton
1-0 – Newton posts a 180, but misses one dart at a double to break throw as van Gerwen takes out 74 to lead.
2-0 – van Gerwen scores 180, 140 and 145 before finishing double nine for a 12-darter.
3-0 – The World Champion this time scores 140, 180 and 170 before landing double two to complete another 14-dart finish as the high-scoring game continues – with Newton adding a maximum of his own.
4-0 – Both players open with 180s before van Gerwen misses double 14 to finish 121, but Newton is off-target with two darts at tops to allow the Dutchman back in on double seven.
5-0 – van Gerwen kicks off with 140 and 180 once again, and when Newton misses the bull for a 127 finish, he lands double ten to win a fifth successive leg.
5-1 – van Gerwen opens with 180 and 140 with five perfect darts, but misses the bull to finish 88 and two further darts at double eight to allow Newton to win his first leg of the game by posting double eight.
6-1 – Newton wires double ten to take out 128, and van Gerwen finishes a tricky double 19 with his third dart at the bed as he secures at least a draw.
7-1 – Newton lands two 180s in the leg, with van Gerwen replying with his sixth of the game, and when the Fleetwood ace misses double top and ten to hit back, the Dutchman finishes 81 for an 11-darter to seal victory with a 105.05 average.
Raymond van Barneveld v Robert Thornton
1-0 – van Barneveld takes out 96 to win the opening leg.
1-1 – Thornton finishes 38 to level.
2-1 – The Dutchman hits a 180 and lands tops for a 64 finish to move back ahead.
2-2 – Thornton posts 180 and double 16 to reply.
3-2 – Double ten sees van Barneveld edge back ahead.
3-3 – van Barneveld hits another maximum, but Thornton denies him a chance to break by landing double 12.
4-3 – Thornton hits a 180, but van Barneveld takes out 81 on double 13 to move back ahead in 12 darts.
4-4 – Thornton levels by taking out 100 with single 20 and two double tops.
4-5 – A 13-darter from Thornton sees him break to move ahead on double top.
5-5 – Thornton misses tops for a 120 finish, and van Barneveld breaks back on double 16 to level with a 13-darter of his own.
5-6 – Thornton hits a 180 to leave 24 after 12 darts, and returns to break throw once more, hitting double 12 for a 13-darter to ensure at least a draw.
6-6 – Thornton is first to a finish, but is unable to take out 115 – only for the Dutchman to miss the bull for a 74 finish, but a dramatic leg takes another turn when the Scot misses two darts at tops for a win, and van Barneveld lands double 19 for a point.
Phil Taylor v Dave Chisnall
1-0 – Taylor wins a nervy opening leg by landing double 16 at the fifth time of asking.
1-1 – Chisnall posts two 180s before landing double ten to level.
2-1 – Taylor hits a 180 and finishes 122 on the bull for a 12-darter to move back ahead.
3-1 – Taylor takes out 97 on double ten to break throw and move two legs clear.
3-2 – The pair trade 180s to leave finishes, with Taylor missing three darts to win the leg as Chisnall posts double four to reply.
4-2 – Taylor misses double six for a 126 finish, but Chisnall wires two darts at double 18 to allow the six-time Premier League champion back in on double three.
4-3 – Chisnall wires the bull for a 170 checkout, but is allowed to return when Taylor misses three darts at double ten, with the St Helens ace posting double four to break back.
4-4 – Chisnall opens with a 180 and lands tops to level the game.
5-4 – Taylor misses double 12 for a 144 finish and is off-target with five further doubles in his next two visits, but has enough cushion to return on double three to move back ahead.
5-5 – Taylor misses double five, and Chisnall takes out 72 on tops to level once again.
6-5 – Chisnall lands two 180s in the leg, but misses double 16 and eight to break for a point, and Taylor lands double 16 to secure a minimum of a point.
7-5 – Chisnall lands his seventh 180 of the game to leave 124 after 12 darts, but misses the bull to claim a draw as Taylor pins double 16 to take his second victory of the season.