Phil Taylor moved three points clear at the top of the Betway Premier League after enjoying a magnificent double delight in Sheffield. ‘The Power’ had a crucial double-header against Gary Anderson and James Wade on night ten, and secured a four perfect four points to continue his fantastic run of form.
Taylor won his first match of the evening with a brilliant 7-3 win over reigning Premier League champion Gary Anderson. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ started strongly and led 3-2, but the decisive moment arose in the sixth leg, when Anderson failed to take out 68 for a 4-2 advantage.
Taylor responded by converting 76 to restore parity at 3-3 and ‘The Power’ never looked back from this moment onwards, winning the final five legs without reply to close out a comprehensive victory with a 99.31 average. Anderson finished with a disappointing 92.83 average, as Taylor completed the league-double over the world champion.
In the evening’s curtain raiser, Taylor met James Wade, after Wade also won his first match of the evening with a solid 7-4 victory over Raymond van Barneveld. There was just the solitary break of throw in the entire contest, when van Barneveld missed three darts at D18 for 5-5. Wade punished RvB by pinning D20, before clinching victory on D10.
However, van Barneveld could again consider himself unfortunate. He wired the bullseye for a 122 finish in leg seven which would have been a break of throw, whilst Raymond was poised on D8 for a break in leg three, before ‘The Machine’ produced a clinical 101 outshot.
However, Wade was unable to replicate such heroics against Taylor, as ‘The Power’ closed out a hard-fought 7-4 victory over ‘The Machine’ to extend his unbeaten league run to ten matches. Taylor averaged a modest 92.91, whilst Wadey could only muster a 91.5 average.
The 16-time world champion held throw in the opening leg despite missing four darts at double, but the 55-year-old upped the ante in the second leg and extended his lead with a classy 121 finish culminating on the bull.
The third leg was an error-strewn affair. Wade kicked off the leg with a maximum, but after missing the bull for a 121 finish himself, the left-hander bizarrely hit D20 when attempting to hit single 5 to set up D10. James then spurned a further two darts at D10, but he still managed to secure the break after Taylor squandered five darts at double himself.
After enduring such a torrid time on the doubles in the previous leg, Taylor pinned the bullseye for the second time in the match to complete a critical 84 checkout and regain his two-leg cushion. ‘The Power’ even seemed bemused and exasperated by the inconsistency that was plaguing this tussle.
Wade was struggling to replicate the clinical performance he produced against van Barneveld earlier in the evening and Taylor won the next two legs to establish a seemingly unassailable 5-1 advantage. However, the 33-year-old remained in contention by delivering a nerveless 101 checkout to reduce the arrears to 5-2.
Taylor had momentarily lost focus and Wade secured back-to-back legs by converting D10 to complete a regulation 35 checkout, but Phil managed to guarantee himself at least a point by holding throw on D16 in a scrappy ninth leg.
‘The Power’ seized the initiative in leg ten after some indifferent scoring from Wade, but Taylor missed two darts at D20 and D10 respectively to close out victory, and the left-hander stayed afloat by holding his nerve on D12.
Wade posted a timely maximum to pressure Taylor’s throw in the eleventh, but the Stoke-on-Trent ace star posted a magnificent 177 to leave D12 after 12 darts, with Wade sat on 14o. The eight-time major winner came agonisingly close to producing this blockbuster finish as he wired D10, but Taylor exploited this reprieve by hitting D12 to seal the points.
The performance of the night was undoubtedly delivered by an imperious Michael van Gerwen, who returned to winning ways with a thrilling 7-5 victory against an excellent Robert Thornton. Van Gerwen averaged 117.95; the second highest average in Premier League history, whilst he also hit six maximums.
Yet, Thornton pushed MvG all the way, averaging 104.23 and posting five maximums of his own, as he fought back valiantly from 6-2 down to force a twelfth and deciding leg. Nevertheless, ‘The Green Machine’ was able to halt his run of three consecutive draws by producing a majestic 11-darter on his own throw in the decider.
Finally, Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis contested a scrappy affair in the battle for a play-off place. The first ten legs went with throw, but Snakebite stole a march by breaking Lewis in the eleventh leg. However, Jackpot somehow managed to escape with a point by taking out 80 in the decider, after Wright had spurned five match darts moments earlier.
Lewis was significantly below-par which was reflected by his miserly 88 average, although the two-time world champion appeared to be unwell after rushing off stage immediately. Although Adrian’s performance was underwhelming, this could prove to be a critical point in his hunt for a play-off place.
Betway Premier League
Night Ten – April 7
James Wade 7-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson 3-7 Phil Taylor
Robert Thornton 5-7 Michael van Gerwen
Adrian Lewis 6-6 Peter Wright
Phil Taylor 7-4 James Wade