Results, review and highlights from the Unibet Premier League Darts in Exeter, as James Wade inflicts Michael van Gerwen's first defeat of the season.
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Machine stuns Van Gerwen
James Wade punished a lacklustre performance from Michael van Gerwen to inflict the Dutchman's first defeat of the Premier League season in Exeter.
Van Gerwen looked on course to take control of the match when a 124 checkout completed a 12-darter for a 3-2 lead but he then blew three darts to take the next leg as the Machine found double 10 to level the scores.
The European and World Series of Darts champion, who lost to MVG in this year's Masters final, then started to make a mockery of his 7/1 pre-match odds by moving two legs clear before a wonderful 121 checkout on the bullseye finished off a 12-darter that guaranteed him at least a point.
With the world champion well off his usual game, Wade sauntered through what proved to be the final leg in 17 darts and even ended the match with a higher average of 95.65 compared to the world champion's 94.33.
The pair both hit two 180s apiece while the Aldershot thrower's finishing was also superior as he pinned seven of his 15 double attempts as van Gerwen spurned eight of his 11.
"I think, performance-wise, it was my worst performance of the season but I took my chances and hit a few more doubles than Michael," said Wade.
"He didn't play his game there and gifted me some opportunities. I didn't play as well as I wanted to and that frustrates me, but I'll move on and enjoy things.
"A lot of people fold against Michael when they shouldn't and I stuck at it tonight, so I'm delighted to win and I'm really happy to be second in the league."
Iceman held by Cool Hand
Gerwyn Price maintained his unbeaten start to the Premier League Darts season but only after winning the final leg against debutant Luke Humphries to secure his third successive draw.
The in-form Welshman, who won back-to-back Players Championship events at the weekend, stormed into a 2-0 lead as this week's 'Contender' struggled early on with an average in the 70s.
Humphries got a leg on the board to settle his nerves before a stunning passage of play which saw the 23-year-old respond to Price's 147 checkout with a 161 on the bullseye - both of which completing 12-darters.
The Iceman then almost turned all the jeers to cheers with a nine-dart finish - which was set up by visits of 180 and 177 - and although his attempt at double 12 just missed, he came back to pin it at the first attempt of his next visit.
Rising star Humphries, who knocked Rob Cross out of the World Championship en route to the quarter-finals back in December, reminded us all of his undeniable potential by winning the next three legs on the spin, including 81 and 96 checkouts to complete 12 and 11-darters respectively.
The Grand Slam of Darts champion, still being booed due to 'that' final against Gary Anderson, fought back to level matters only for Humphries to guarantee himself at least a draw with a 13-darter in the next.
The Newbury thrower then came close to a show-stopping victory but his attempt at double 14 to complete a 148 checkout just missed and Price held his nerve on tops to take out 76 with his last dart in hand.
Humphries finished with a superior average of 101.3 compared to Price's 99.48 while he also had a better checkout percentage of 60% as the Welshman pinned six of his 13 attempts. Both players hit four 180 apiece.
"I've been looking forward to this for a while and I love playing up on the big stage," said Humphries.
"After the first three legs I'm happy with my performance, we were both brilliant and I really enjoyed the game. Gerwyn could be the second best player in the world on form so it shows my credentials and I'm happy with a draw.
"I've got to keep working hard and get the consistency but I loved every minute of it up there. I've got to work on my floor form because I want more nights like this. This could be the kick start for my season."
Cross chins Gurney
Rob Cross bounced back from his 7-2 thrashing at the hands of Michael van Gerwen last Thursday with an emphatic 7-1 victory over Daryl Gurney.
Voltage's lacklustre performance in Dublin was of stark contrast to the solid star the's made to the season so far but he cranked the heat up in Exeter with an average of 102.16 that was helped by lethal finishing of seven doubles hit from just 10 attempts.
This included a stunning checkout of 153 in the fifth leg as he threatened the 10th whitewash in Premier League history, but having avoided this fate seven days ago when trailing 6-0 he couldn't finish it off when the opportunity was in his hands.
Cross moved one leg away with a 13-darter only for Gurney, who averaged just 90, to finally stop the rot with an 80 checkout to avoid total humiliation.
It was his only dart at a double in the match so far and he wouldn't get another as the 2018 world champion won the next leg to seal maximum points.
"I'm feeling a lot happier in myself this year and that's showing in my performances," said Cross.
"Last week I tried too hard but I've been playing well lately and I'm enjoying myself. Daryl didn't get going and I was prepared for him to kick in, so I'm grateful to get the two points.
"The 153 was a killer, a game-changer. I was always in control though and it felt good tonight. I believe I can get stronger and I've got another gear to go to."
Suljovic defies Snakebite comeback
Mensur Suljovic ended his wait for a Premier League victory this season as he inflicted Peter Wright's first defeat with a 7-4 triumph in Exeter.
The Austrian won six legs on the spin after losing the opener, with the highlight being a 121 checkout to complete a 12-darter that put him 6-1 ahead.
Wright suddenly rallied by firing back-to-back 180s en route to an 11-darter and he backed that up with 81 and 85 checkouts to give his opponent something to think about.
But Suljovic, who didn't hit a single maximum in the match compared to Wright's five, reeled off three 140s on the trot at the start of the 11th leg on throw to race clear before finishing the job on double eight for a 14 darter.
The Gentle averaged 98.27 but the key to his success was his impressive finishing of seven doubles hit from 13 attempts. Wright averaged 97.23 and pinned four of his nine attempts.
Gutsy Bully Boy wins through the pain barrier
Michael Smith defied the pain of recent surgery to claim an impressive 7-4 victory over Raymond van Barneveld which keeps him in touch with the top four.
Bully Boy needed emergency surgery on an abscess on Monday but despite discomfort and strapping round his leg and groin, he opted to compete in search of his first Premier League victory of the season.
Although he looked in pain at the oche and fell 3-1 behind in the early stages, the world championship runner-up bounced back - albeit with a grimace - with three legs on the spin to edge ahead of a below-par Barney.
The legendary Dutchman, who retires at the end of the season, had produced two memorable comeback draws in the last fortnight but his performance tonight was pretty tame and despite getting back on level terms, his challenge ended with a whimper.
Smith followed up a 14-darter with a clinical 90 checkout to complete a 12-darter that sealed at least a point but he sealed both with a comfortable hold in the next.
The St Helens man averaged 98.78 compared to Barney's 94.38 while he hit the only three maximums in the match and hit seven of his 10 darts at doubles.
The five-time world champion didn't finish shabbily either, making four of his six attempts - but he just didn't score well enough and now props up the table without a victory.
2019 Premier League Darts Table
- MVG P 4 W 3 D 0 L 1 LegD +7 Pts 6
- Wade P 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 LegD +4 Pts 5
- Cross P 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 LegD +4 Pts 5
- Price P 4 W 1 D 3 L 0 LegD +3 Pts 5
- Suljovic P 4 W 1 D 2 L 1 LegD -1 Pts 4
- Wright P 4 W 1 D 2 L 1 LegD -1 Pts 4
- Gurney P 4 W 2 D 0 L 2 LegD -3 Pts 4
- Smith P 4 W 1 D 1 L 2 LegD -1 Pts 3
- Van Barneveld P 4 W 0 D 2 L 2 LegD -6 Pts 2
Night four results & next week's fixtures
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Night 4 results
- Luke Humphries 6-6 Gerwyn Price
- Daryl Gurney 1-7 Rob Cross
- Mensur Suljovic 7-4 Peter Wright
- Michael van Gerwen 3-7 James Wade
- Michael Smith 7-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Night 5, March 7
BHGE Arena, Aberdeen
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)
- Michael Smith v Rob Cross
- Daryl Gurney v James Wade
- Mensur Suljovic v Gerwyn Price
- Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright
- Michael van Gerwen v John Henderson
Tickets: 08444 77 9000 or click here