Column #JB22 Premier League – Week 14
Friday, May 9, 2014
Premier League – Week 14
There is never a dull moment in Newcastle!
As the Premier League entered its final stretch, it was Newcastle’s turn to host the most entertaining darts tournament in the world! As all the players have now played an equal number of games, there was only 4 games on the night but it still didn’t make the night any less important. Incredibly, the occasion marked one year since I went to the Metro Radio Arena to see the darts myself and the Georgie crowd were exceptional again (even without my help!)
The first game of the night saw Gary Anderson take on Dave Chisnall with Anderson knowing that a win would hugely boost his chances of a play off place but Chisnall was only playing for pride. The match kicked off with a break of throw as Anderson showed his nerves by missing 6 doubles as Chisnall punished him. However, Anderson broke straight back on double 4 in the next leg. The next 4 legs then all went with throw and so did the 7th leg after a calamitous end to the leg where both players missed several doubles as the match more resembled a pub match than a world class tungsten tussle. Anderson then won the next legs despite miscounting a 74 finish before coming back to win the leg. The match finished 7:4 to Anderson as his play off hopes took a huge boost.
Adrian Lewis then took on Robert Thornton in what should have been a meaningless match but no Scotland vs England tie is ever meaningless! Thornton went into the back of the game full of form after he won his last Premier League game and he won both Players Championship tournaments at the weekend! On the other hand, Lewis went into the game on the opposite end of the form scale having not won in the Premier League in 8 weeks. This form showed at the beginning as Thornton won the first 2 legs but Lewis bounced back as he then won the next 3 legs as he hit a scoring streak. Following this, there were 5 holds of throw in a row despite Lewis averaging nearly 15 points more than Thornton. In the end this paid off as Lewis won the last 2 legs after a perfectly timed 180 to set up a D5 finish and win the match 7:5.
The most important game of the night and probably the whole tournament so far came next between Phil Taylor and Peter Wright as the winner knew they would take a huge step to guaranteeing their play off place. The match kicked off with 2 breaks of throw before Taylor punished 4 missed doubles as Taylor hit a 120, ‘Shanghai’ finish. Wright wasn’t downhearted however as he hit back by winning the next 3 legs to lead 4:3. This topsy turvy tussle then took another twist as Taylor hit back by winning the next 3 legs including in an 11 dart leg. The last 2 legs broke the trend of the match as they both went with the throw to finish the match as a draw. But it wasn’t all plain sailing as in the final leg, Wright required 150 and after hitting T20 and T18, he narrowly missed the double after choosing to do his trademark showboating turn to the crowd at just the wrong time. He got lucky however as it also seemed to distract Taylor who missed his double to let Wright take the draw. In the post match interview, Taylor said he wasn’t bothered by Wright’s showmanship and he was one of the nicest men you will meet off the stage. Wright’s destiny in this year’s competition now lies in the hands of his game with rival Michael Van Gerwen next week but Wright brushed off the pressure by saying he didn’t care what Van Gerwen thinks of him, he is going to beat him next week and he will be in the play offs on May 22nd. Is Peter Wright slowly turning from being an entertaining, crowd favourite to being too arrogant for his own good?
It has been the year of the Dutchmen this year as both Michael Van Gerwen and Raymond Van Barneveld have already qualified for the play offs and they went head to head in the final game of the evening. The crowd was clearly split between their favourite player as they traded chants of ‘Barney Army!’ and ‘Oh Michael Van Gerwen!’. The match kicked off all guns blazing as they shared the first 2 legs. In the 3rd leg, both players kicked off with a 180 and Van Barneveld finished off the leg in 11 darts. Both players then again traded legs but this time they broke each other’s throw and then Van Gerwen held his throw to leave the match level at 3:3. Van Gerwen then took control of the game by winning the next 2 legs and hitting 4 perfect darts along the way. After 2 more holds of throw, Van Gerwen rounded off the match on the bull to win 7:4 as he replicated the 132 finish he hit to win the Premier League last year.