The darts world was treated to a master class of top quality darts on Thursday night. The Premier League is reaching its climax and the level of play is slowly improving.
The headline match saw Phil Taylor avenge his 8-2 defeat to former protégée Adrian Lewis in week two with an impressive 8-3 win. Taylor has been rampant since his only loss in the Premier League, winning nine straight contests and sitting comfortably on top of the table. Lewis was far from embarrassed, however, with both players throwing astonishing averages of 120 for the first four legs. Taylor moved into a 4-2 lead at the interval and the world champion Lewis found it impossible to pull back the deficit. Taylor finished with a 107 average and won with relative ease.
Impressive as Taylor and Lewis were, the Gary Anderson and Simon Whitlock match was an exhibition in effortless high-scoring. Two Premier League records were smashed as Anderson overcame the Wizard 8-6 to consolidate his second place position in the table. Anderson threw an astounding eleven 180s, beating Raymond van Barneveld’s previous record of nine. The match saw a total of sixteen 180s, which easily surpassed the previous record of 12 thrown by James Wade and Terry Jenkins.
Anderson’s Achilles heel once again was his doubles. The Scot blitzed Whitlock, but could not seal an easy victory. Leading 7-5, Anderson threw seven perfect darts and seemed to be on the cusp of confirming victory with a nine darter. The Flying Scotsman proceeded to miss seven attempts at a double to gift Whitlock the leg. Anderson started off the final leg with a 180 and took victory to virtually guarantee his place in the playoffs.
Terry Jenkins and Raymond van Barneveld played out an even closer affair in the second match. Barney was never behind throughout the fiercely contested encounter, but could only draw 7-7 with the Raging Bull. Jenkins played by far his best darts of the Premier League and looked more at ease now that his hopes of reaching the playoffs have faded. Both players delivered impressive blows when it mattered and a draw was a fair result. Jenkins found the bull to level the match at 7-7 and provide a fitting end to the contest.
The night’s only one-sided match was between the rejuvenated James Wade and dejected Mark Webster. Wade threw a 106 average and had now won three in succession, knocking off Lewis, Whitlock and Webster. The result was never in doubt and a whitewash looked likely at one stage. Webster won the seventh to avoid an 8-0 drubbing but it was scant consolation.
Wade’s highlight was a 170 checkout in the sixth leg. The Machine endured a slow start to the Premier League but on current form must be considered the favourite to grab the final playoff place ahead of Whitlock and Lewis.
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