The Echo Arena in Liverpool was treated to a mixed night of Premier League Darts on Thursday. Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade played out an exciting 7-7 draw, while Adrian Lewis took control of his own playoff destiny with an impressive 8-5 triumph over Simon Whitlock. The night’s two opening matches, however, ended in drab one-sided victories for Terry Jenkins and Phil Taylor.
Wade was the form player coming into his match with van Barneveld, and the Machine was left to rue missed opportunities. Wade threw a 102 average and was the more impressive player for the majority of the match.
Wade started the match well, breaking Barney in the opening leg after the Dutchman missed the bull. The Machine was less impressive in the second, opening sloppily and missing three darts at double top. Barney clinically took out 25 to break back straight away.
The pair held their throw in the next four legs to enter the interval tied at 3-3, with Barneveld’s 124 checkout in the fifth leg being the highlight.
Barney was brighter after the interval, holding his throw before hitting a magnificent 121 out shot to lead 5-3. Wade responded terrifically, hitting a 125 checkout in the ninth leg. The Machine followed up the break of throw with two 180s to start the tenth leg. Wade fell short of a nine darter but claimed the leg to tie the score at 5-5.
Wade and Barney then traded legs to leave the score even with two legs to play. Barney almost threw away the penultimate leg, only hitting a double at the seventh time of asking. Wade secured a draw in style with a 138 checkout.
In the night’s final match, Adrian Lewis was dominant early against Simon Whitlock. Jackpot jumped out to a 4-1 lead as Whitlock struggled to find some form. The Wizard used the interval to his advantage, however, and broke Lewis in the seventh leg before racing on to a big lead in the eighth. Whitlock missed eight darts at a double but managed to even the score at 4-4.
Lewis was struggling to keep up with Whitlock’s high scoring, but the Wizard could not capitalise. The turning point came in the ninth leg, when Whitlock missed crucial shots at doubles and Lewis won despite a sluggish start. Whitlock also missed opportunities in the tenth leg as Lewis broke to lead 6-4. The pair traded legs before Lewis fired a 106 out shot to win 8-5 and take the fourth position in the league. The victory is a crucial one for Lewis, who enjoys the easiest remaining matches of the playoff hopefuls.
The night’s marquee match pitted Phil Taylor against second place Gary Anderson, but the contest quickly disappointed the expectant audience. Anderson was in scintillating form last week, throwing a Premier League record eleven 180s, but the Flying Scotsman never got going in Liverpool. Anderson missed three darts at a double in the opening leg and never recovered.
Taylor raced into a 4-0 lead and averaged 107 over a quick fire first three legs. Anderson missed doubles throughout and Taylor was clinical in amassing a 7-1 lead. The Scotsman won two consecutive legs to put an air of respectability on the score line, but the final leg summed up Anderson’s night. Needing a single 20 to leave double top, Anderson hit a single one. Taylor took his chance to wrap up an easy 8-3 victory.
The opening match saw the Premier League’s bottom two players, Terry Jenkins and Mark Webster, do battle. The players entered the break locked at 3-3, but Jenkins was clinical thereafter to race to an 8-4 victory. The major difference between the players was their finishing. Jenkins succeeded in his first six attempts at a double, which helped him break Webster twice en route to a 6-3 lead.
Webster broke back immediately but lost the final two legs. The Welshman has now lost a Premier League record eight matches in a row. Jenkins will harbour slight hopes of sneaking into the playoffs, but his upturn in form has likely come too late for the Bull.
The biggest winners in Liverpool were Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld. Lewis is now in control of the fourth playoff position, while it would take a minor miracle for Barney to not qualify for the semi finals. The odds are certainly stacked against Whitlock and Wade, who still have to play Phil Taylor. The Power has won eleven in a row and is in devastating form.
Lewis, meanwhile, will play Jenkins and Anderson in the remaining weeks, two players who arguably have little to play for. Anderson officially qualified for the playoffs despite his lacklustre performance in Liverpool, while Jenkins kept alive his outside chance of making the playoffs. Jenkins will have to beat Lewis and Wade and hope other results go his way if he is to make the semi finals.
Webster vs Jenkins: 4-8
Anderson vs Taylor: 3-8
Van Barneveld vs Wade: 7-7
Lewis vs Whitlock: 8-5