Premier League Darts - week five round-up
FLAWLESS Simon Whitlock claimed his first Premier League Darts victory of the season as he hit seven doubles from as many attempts against Robert Thornton in Exeter, as Gary Anderson condemned Phil Taylor to a fourth defeat of the season.
Australian star Whitlock had travelled to the Westpoint Arena at the foot of the Premier League table following four successive defeats, but turned that run around in superb style in a high-quality clash with Thornton.
Thornton had opened their clash with an 11-darter, only for Whitlock to win three of the next four legs to edge ahead at 3-2, hitting finishes of 90, 70 and 150 in the process.
Thornton superbly took the next three for a 5-3 lead, only for Whitlock's accurate doubling to continue as he took out 61, tops for a 13-darter, 60 and 81 for an 11-dart leg as he reeled off four in a row to claim the win.
"It's one of the best feelings I've ever had, I've got tears in my eyes," admitted Whitlock. "I've had a few problems in the past month, with an ear infection and illness, but I never give up and people should never doubt me.
"My finishing was amazing and I had no idea it was seven out of seven - I'm just glad I hit seven doubles!
"This is the ten best players in the world and every week is a battle to even get a draw. I was worried, of course, but I'm backing these darts and I feel good with them. I'm just stoked to win tonight."
Whitlock's victory saw him draw level on two points at the foot of the table with 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor, who suffered a fourth defeat in five games with
"I wanted to play well myself tonight but I ended up playing Phil and not the board, and I didn't capitalise on the mistakes he was making until the end," admitted Anderson.
"I've got the utmost respect for Phil and that wasn't Phil at his best, and I was waiting for him to kick in."
The win puts Anderson into fourth place in the league table, and he admitted: "It's been a while since I've been up there because I've been bottom for the last two years.
"I've come into this season pretty determined to play well because losing in the World Championship to Michael van Gerwen sickened me. It was a game that I should have won and I threw it away, and I want to put that right."
The night featured three draws from the evening's other games, with World Championship finalist Peter Wright retaining his status at the top of the league table as he shared the spoils with Thornton, who competed twice with Wes Newton absent through illness.
Thornton led 2-0 and 3-1 after hitting two 180s in the game's opening leg to break, before Wright - aided by a 116 finish - won three in a row to lead 4-3.
He also led 6-4 as he secured at least a point, but paid for a missed match dart at his favoured double 16 as Thornton kept the game alive before hitting an 11-dart leg in the decider - featuring a further two maximums - as he snatched a point.
"I expected a tough game and it was that, and though I'm happy with a draw it feels like a point lost," said Wright.
"I had a dart at the double 16 and should have got it - that's my favourite double - but the way Robert started the game was amazing. I had to ride it out and then jump on top of him when he gave me a chance, and that's what I did.
"My target's not to lose a game in the league, so if I can keep this up that's great."
Wright now heads from Exeter to the Butlins Minehead Resort for the Coral UK Open, where he begins his challenge for the £50,000 title on Friday night against World Youth Champion Michael Smith.
"I've got a hard game tomorrow against Michael," added Wright. "He's probably wanting revenge for me beating him in the World Championship, but I'll be saying different and hopefully I'll get the win again.
"It could be a weekend, and if I can get some nice draws and get to the final, maybe I could get my first big title."
Reigning Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen remains a point behind Wright after he shared the points with Adrian Lewis, who hit back from 6-3 down to claim a draw after the Dutchman twice missed darts for victory.
"I came here to win and I didn't do that so I'm very disappointed, but Adrian's one of the toughest player on the circuit to play," said van Gerwen, the World Champion.
"I made a couple of mistakes in the game and I need to get back on the practice board and make sure it doesn't happen again. At the very important moments, when I was 6-3 up, I hit a bad score and that shouldn't happen at this level."
Van Gerwen added: "I'm really looking forward to playing in the UK Open now because I've never won it before and it's a big target for me.
"I've got good memories of Minehead from the Players Championship win [last year] so that's good for my confidence, but I've got to put this game behind me because I can do a lot better."
Lewis' draw puts him on to five points in the table, and he admitted: "When you're 6-4 down you have to try and dig it out and get a point, and I did that.
"I've had a chest infection and been under the weather but I've started to feel a bit better in myself and tonight I was up for it. I think we both tried too hard and neither of us were as consistent as we wanted to be but I ground out a result."
Dutch ace Raymond van Barneveld retained his status inside the top four with a draw against Dave Chisnall, who hit a timely 180 in the deciding leg of their game after the five-time World Champion had missed one dart for the match.
"At the end of the day I'm happy with the point," said van Barneveld. "Sometimes if you lead 6-5 you can be devastated with a point you've given a way but to be honest Dave should have won and I found the point.
"I'm feeling good going into the UK Open, which I won for the first two years after I came to the PDC and I'm focused for it and feel confident."
Premier League newcomer Chisnall moved on to four points with the draw, but said: "It was a point lost in my opinion, but that's darts.
"I was scoring well but I went off the boil a little bit at the wrong time and maybe I was lucky to get a point, but there's still another four games so we'll see what happens in the next few weeks."
With Newton sidelined through tonsillitis, the Fleetwood ace is now set to play twice in Dublin on March 27, with Thornton sitting out the visit to The O2 after doubling up in Exeter.
The Premier League Darts continues next Thursday at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, with tickets available through 0843 373 3000 or online at www.capitalfmarena.com.
Premier League Darts
Westpoint Arena, Exeter
Peter Wright 6-6 Robert Thornton
Raymond van Barneveld 6-6 Dave Chisnall
Adrian Lewis 6-6 Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor 5-7 Gary Anderson
Simon Whitlock 7-5 Robert Thornton
Peter Wright v Robert Thornton
0-1 - Thornton makes a brilliant start by landing two 180s in winning the opening leg against the throw.
0-2 - Wright lands a maximum of his own but misses the bull for a 124 finish to break, and Thornton returns to take out 24 to double his lead with a second 15-darter.
1-2 - Wright finishes 116 to get off the mark.
1-3 - Tops sees Thornton regain his two-leg cushion.
2-3 - Wright replies once more, this time taking out 81 on double 16 for a 12-darter.
3-3 - A dramatic leg sees Wright break back to level, with Thornton missing double top, ten and two darts at double five, allowing the World Championship finalist in on double ten.
4-3 - Wright hits a 180 to leave 103, and takes out the combination on double 16 to move ahead for the first time.
4-4 - Both players hit 180s, with Wright missing the bull for an 81 checkout to allow Thornton back in on tops.
5-4 - Wright takes out 78 on double 12 to regain his advantage.
6-4 - Thornton misses three darts at double top, and Wright steps in to finish 96 on double 18 to ensure that he will remain unbeaten.
6-5 - Thornton hits a fourth maximum of the game, and when Wright misses a match dart at double 16, the former UK Open champion finishes double ten to force a deciding leg.
6-6 - Thornton opens with two more 180s to set up the prospect of a possible nine-dart finish, and though a perfect leg goes wayward, the Scot hits tops for an 11-darter to seal a point.
Raymond van Barneveld v Dave Chisnall
1-0 - Double ten sees the Dutchman move ahead.
1-1 - Chisnall lands two 180s before levelling the game on double four.
2-1 - van Barneveld regains the edge on double two.
2-2 - van Barneveld opens with a 180, but Chisnall is first to a finish and although he initially misses two darts at double 15, he returns to level.
3-2 - The Dutch ace takes out 72 on double 18 to move back ahead.
3-3 - Tops sees Chisnall level the contest again.
3-4 - Chisnall opens with a third 180 of the game, and takes out tops to break for the first time.
4-4 - Chisnall misses three darts to move two legs up, and van Barneveld steps back in on double ten.
4-5 - Chisnall lands a maximum before finishing 110 to break throw once again.
5-5 - van Barneveld again breaks back to level, hitting double eight.
6-5 - van Barneveld takes out 89 on the bull to secure a point.
6-6 - The Dutch ace hits his second 180 of the game in being first to a finish, but misses a dart at tops for the win as Chisnall follows up his fifth maximum by taking out 57 on double ten to snatch a point.
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
0-1 - van Gerwen initially misses three darts to break throw, but when Lewis misses double 16 and eight, the World Champion posts double four to move ahead.
0-2 - van Gerwen takes out 101 on double 12 to double his lead.
1-2 - van Gerwen opens with 180 and 140, with Lewis replying with a 171 before missing the bull to finish 135 - but the Dutchman is off-target on double 16 and eight to allow him back on double 18 to hit back.
2-2 - Lewis takes out 80 on tops to punish van Gerwen for missing the single 20 to leave a double.
3-2 - Lewis posts a maximum before tops moves him ahead for the first time.
3-3 - The pair trade 180s before van Gerwen pins double two with his third dart as he levels.
3-4 - Lewis opens with a 180, but pays for missing tops for a 109 finish as van Gerwen steps in to break with a 68 finish.
3-5 - van Gerwen kicks off with six perfect darts as a pair of 180s set up a possible nine-darter, and though he is unable to complete a perfect leg he returns to finish double 18 for an 11-darter.
3-6 - Double top sees van Gerwen secure a point to get his challenge back on track.
4-6 - van Gerwen misses a dart at tops for a 108 finish to claim the win, and double eight sees Lewis stay alive.
5-6 - Lewis takes out 110 to send the game into a deciding leg.
6-6 - van Gerwen misses another match dart at tops, and Lewis finishes double 18 to complete his fightback and claim a point.
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
0-1 - Taylor lands a 180 but pays for missing the bull, for a 126 finish, and two darts at double eight as Anderson posts double 11 to break throw immediately.
1-1 - Taylor finishes 68 on double four for a 14-darter to level.
1-2 - Anderson lands two 180s, and finishes tops for a third successive break of throw.
2-2 - Taylor finishes double 16 to level the game again.
3-2 - Taylor opens with a 177 before taking out 76 to move ahead with the game's first hold of throw.
3-3 - Anderson lands a 180 as he levels.
3-4 - The Scot punishes four missed doubles from Taylor to move back in front on double six.
3-5 - Anderson initially misses six darts at double top, ten and five, but Taylor is unable to hit back on double six as the 2011 champion returns to post double two with his third dart.
4-5 - Taylor wins his first leg in double by posting double 16.
4-6 - Anderson takes out 114 on tops to secure a minimum of a point.
5-6 - Taylor finishes double eight to force a deciding leg and keep alive his hopes of grabbing a third point of the season.
5-7 - Taylor posts a 180 to leave 88 after nine darts, but misses two darts at double 14 to snatch a draw - and Anderson takes out 97 on double ten to earn both points and a third win of the season.
Simon Whitlock v Robert Thornton
0-1 - Thornton lands a 180 and finishes 86 to break throw immediately.
1-1 - Whitlock finishes 90 to break back and level.
2-1 - Whitlock opens with a maximum and takes out 70 on double top to move ahead.
2-2 - Thornton this time lands a 180 before taking out 64 on tops to level.
3-2 - Whitlock superbly finishes 150 with two treble 19s and double 18.
3-3 - Thornton finishes a brilliant 11-darter, opening with a 180 before landing tops again - with both players flawless on their doubles early on.
3-4 - Thornton opens with a fourth 180 of the game before landing double 12 for a break of throw.
3-5 - The Scot takes out 65 on tops to move two legs clear.
4-5 - Whitlock hits back by finishing 61.
5-5 - Tops sees Whitlock break to level the game.
6-5 - Whitlock secures his first point of the season, with Thornton paying the price for missing the bull for a 121 finish and two darts at double four, with the Australian pinning tops to remain flawless with six doubles from as many attempts.
7-5 - Whitlock claims his first win of the season, hitting three 140s before taking out 81 on double 18 to ensure a stunning seven doubles from seven attempts in the game, with Thornton hitting a 177 to leave 24 but being denied a dart for a point.