A review of Thursday night's Unibet Premier League Darts action in Nottingham, featuring Fallon Sherrock's draw with Glen Durrant.
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Queen of the Palace thrills royal subjects
Fallon Sherrock came within two darts of yet another history-making victory but can still walk away from her Premier League debut with a highly-creditable 6-6 draw against Glen Durrant.
The Queen of the Palace became the first woman to take to this competition’s stage as a fitting reward for sending the world darts crazy during her fairytale run at the Alexandra Palace.
And just like she did during her three matches back in December, an inspired Sherrock bought her raucous royal subjects to their feet in an absorbing encounter.
Tailing 3-2, the 25-year-old was let off the hook by Durrant spurning five darts to seal the first break off the match, and she compounded his misery with a fabulous 92 checkout to complete a 12-darter in the next to go 4-3 up.
The usually popular Duzza, who is widely hailed for his supreme mental strength, seemed to struggle with the atmosphere as three more misses at the outer ring saw him fall 5-3 behind.
A 14-dart hold revived his hopes of a second straight win momentarily but failure to pin double 16 with three clear attempts in one visit allowed Sherrock to guarantee herself a draw.
The Milton Keynes star, also bidding to become the first ‘Challenger’ to win a Premier League match at the 11th attempt over the past two seasons, was left on 150 when Duzza took the 11th leg but had a chance from 106 in the decider.
She could only leave 48, however, as the three-time BDO world champion kept his cool on 70 to pin double 16 with his last dart in hand.
Sherrock was unable to boost her average of 87.36 with a maximum but she did convert 50% of her doubles as Durrant, who hit two 180s and averaged 92.21, spurned 17 of his 23.
Sherrock told Sky Sports: "I've loved every minute of it. I'm so happy that I get to play again on the big stage. It's been incredible. I'm speechless because everyone's come and it's amazing. I just thank everyone that's here supporting. I'm so grateful.
"I'm getting opportunities opening up all the time, so obviously I'm excited to see what 2020 holds for me. I can't wait for everything that's coming and I'm just loving this at the moment."
Durrant paid tribute to his opponent, who had the vociferous backing of the Nottingham crowd.
"All credit goes to Fallon," he told Sky Sports. "She's just had the most amazing couple of months. That just cemented that. To play in the Premier League... that was the toughest game I've ever had.
"Playing Fallon Sherrock on that stage is a lot harder than maybe I anticipated. I'm very lucky to get the draw."
Injured Snakebite snatches dramatic draw
Peter Wright battled through the pain barrier to salvage a hard-fought 6-6 draw with Gary Anderson thanks to a late burst of quality.
The world champion, who won the season-opening Masters before losing to Michael van Gerwen in Aberdeen last Thursday night, was hobbling on the Nottingham stage due to an ankle injury he later attributed on lifting his wife Jo’s suitcases out of car on arrival at their hotel.
It didn’t initially seem to bother him as both World Cup-winning partners were averaging above 100 during the early stages of an eagerly-anticipated contest.
Indeed, a fine 11-darter levelled the scores at 2-2 and by the time Wright had moved into a 4-2 lead he’d already hit five maximums.
The quality dropped markedly as Anderson, who won a Players Championship event on Saturday, took the next two legs in a combined 35 darts before edging 5-4 up with a 15-darter.
Snakebite was denied the chance of picking up his first victory of the Premier League campaign when Anderson went 6-5 ahead with a 17-darter.
However, in a sensational deciding leg, Wright followed up his sixth 180 of the match with a match high 101 checkout to seal a point.
Anderson moves onto three points after beating Daryl Gurney on home soil last week but will be frustrated not to maintain his 100% record.
Despite hitting two fewer 180s, the two-time champion averaged 95.58 compared to Wright’s 88.72 although he spurned 10 darts at doubles, with his opponent hitting six of his 14.
Ruthless MVG batters Superchin
Michael van Gerwen maintained his 100% start to the 2020 Premier League with a 7-1 thumping of Daryl Gurney.
The five-time champion, who has finished top of the table in each of his seven regular seasons, followed up his impressive 7-5 victory over Peter Wright last week in ominous fashion.
Van Gerwen averaged 105.05 compared to his struggling opponent’s 93.92 despite hitting one maximum but he was ruthless on the outer ring, pinning seven of his 11 attempts at doubles as Gurney missed five of his six.
The Dutchman blasted out of the blocks with a 13-darter followed by a match-high 104 checkout and he looked set to inflict the 11th whitewash in Premier League history - and his fourth - when a finish of 72 moved him 6-0 up.
Gurney, who did briefly threaten a nine-darter in the fourth leg when his sole 180 was backed up by two more treble 20s, did at least manage to avoid total humiliation by taking the seventh.
The world number one coasted put that minor irritation behind him with a 13-darter to seal his easiest of victories.
Gurney achieved a rare regular season double over MVG last year only only to lose to him in the semi-finals but the Northern Irishman has been out of sorts so far this year and needs to find form soon.
Voltage defies laws of darting physics
An outrageous moment of doubling from Rob Cross proved decisive in a 7-5 victory over Nathan Aspinall.
A closely fought battle with one of the fastest rising stars of the game was level at 5-5 when Voltage approached the ache with 32 required to guarantee a point, only to spurn them all.
Aspinall, fresh from his fourth PDC title on Sunday when he hit a nine-darter along the way, reduced his score to 54 to apply pressure on Cross, who then missed a further two attempts at the same target.
With the bed now badly obscured, the 2018 world champion had to move well across the oche so much that commentator Wayne Mardle joked he’d now moved into Lincolnshire.
Nevertheless, he somehow pinned the double before completing victory in the final leg with a 12-dart break of throw that he finished in style with a 112 checkout.
Cross averaged 94.71 compared to Aspinall’s 95.48 and hit seven of his 17 double attempts as his opponent spurned six of his 11, while he hit one more maximum with three.
Apart from his match-winning 112 finish, Cross also made a match high checkout of 116 in the eighth leg while Aspinall's best was 84.
Voltage, bidding to reach the Play-Offs for a third successive season, moves onto three points after last week’s draw with Gerwyn Price but the UK Open champion stays on two having beaten Michael Smith on debut.
"I'm very pleased to win tonight, it was a hard game to win against an in-form player," said Cross. "I'm on a new path at the moment and I feel brilliant. I've lost almost three stone since the World Championship.
"I'd been doing things wrong for the last couple of years so I decided it's time to look after myself. I want the best I can from this game and to get that I have to do the right things on and off the stage."
Price comeback stuns Smith
Gerwyn Price staged a superb comeback from 6-2 down to earn a point in an entertaining clash with Michael Smith.
A sizzling spell of play from Bully Boy, which included a pair of 10-darters and another in 12, put him on the brink of his first victory of the season.
Smith’s threw seven perfect darts at the start of the third leg before hitting single 19 while in the next he raised the roof again with a 140 checkout to move 3-1 up - at which point he was averaging 120.
Price, who clawed himself back to 3-2 down with a 13-darter, was also averaging over a ton at this point but simply had no answer as the St Helens star won the next three legs.
After keeping himself alive by taking the next leg, Price punished Smith for blowing two match darts in the 10th and from then momentum changed decisively.
As Bully Boy’s levels dropped off, the two-time Grand Slam of Darts champion completed his comeback without allowing his opponent another chance to seal the match - although he was waiting on 30 when Price sealed a point sharing 14-darter.
Smith averaged 102 compared to Price’s 98.25, hit two more maximums with five and hit 46.15% of his doubles (6/13) as the Iceman missed 11 of his 16 attempts (31.25%).
But the most crucial statistic is the 6-6 scoreline.
Night two results, next week's fixtures and table
Night 2, February 13
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)
- Rob Cross 7-5 Nathan Aspinall
- Gerwyn Price 6-6 Michael Smith
- Gary Anderson 6-6 Peter Wright
- Glen Durrant 6-6 Fallon Sherrock
- Daryl Gurney 1-7 Michael van Gerwen
Night 3, February 20
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)
- Peter Wright v Rob Cross
- Jonny Clayton v Michael Smith
- Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall
- Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price
- Glen Durrant v Gary Anderson
2020 Premier League Darts Table
- Van Gerwen P 2 W 2 D 0 L 0 LegD +8 Pts 4
- Durrant P 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 LegD +4 Pts 3
- Cross P 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 LegD +2 Pts 3
- Anderson P 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 LegD +2 Pts 3
- Aspinall P 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 LegD +2 Pts 2
- Price P 2 W 0 D 2 L 0 LegD +0 Pts 2
- Wright P 2 W 0 D 1 L 1 LegD -2 Pts 1
- Smith P 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 LegD -4 Pts 1
- Gurney P 2 W 0 D 0 L 2 LegD -8 Pts 0