By News Team
27th August 2020
Former William Hill World Darts Championship winner Rob Cross is left propping up the Premier League table going into Judgement Night after defeat by Michael Smith on Night Eight in Milton Keynes, while Glen Durrant edged out Michael van Gerwen in a top-of-the-table clash.
Wednesday’s 7-3 loss to Smith compounds a miserable restart to Premier League action for 2019 finalist Cross, having suffered a 7-2 defeat to Van Gerwen on Night Seven. The former world champion will now need to take something from Thursday’s tie with Durrant and hope that other results go his way on Judgement Night if he is to avoid elimination.
Cross was under pressure going into his tie with Smith, with Daryl Gurney having just seen off Nathan Aspinall 7-5 to move above him in the league table as things stood.
Smith got off to a flying start and led 3-0, but Cross showed some resilience – including a match-high 143 checkout – to level at 3-3 and give himself a lifeline. However, he was unable to replicate that fighting spirit when it mattered most, and Smith regained his composure to string together four straight legs to consign Cross to a 7-3 defeat and leave him staring at elimination on Night Nine.
Gurney’s Premier League revival has come courtesy of back-to-back wins to resurrect what looked a doomed campaign ahead of the break. The Northern Irish ace had claimed just two draws in the opening six weeks in February and March, but having seen off challenger Chris Dobey on Tuesday, he backed up that success with a hard-fought 7-5 victory over former UK Open champion Aspinall.
In a tense start, the pair traded the opening six legs before Gurney – who had landed a 144 checkout in leg four – found his rhythm and moved into a 5-3 lead. Gurney then guaranteed a point at 6-4, but Aspinall once again ramped up the pressure as he moved within one leg at 6-5.
However, a strong final leg finished with an 82 checkout and saw Gurney clinch a valuable two points and improve his leg difference over Cross.
Gerwyn Price effectively secured his survival with a thumping 7-1 victory over Gary Anderson to kick off Night Eight, meaning that he now needs just one leg from his Judgement Night tie with Jermaine Wattimena to ensure a place in the second half of the season.
Anderson – who cruised past Smith with a 109 average on Tuesday – never really got going as Price quickly raced into a four-leg lead. The Scot had his one shining moment as a 116 checkout gave him his one and only leg, but Price quickly rattled off the remaining three to secure a huge two points.
At the opposite end of the table, Premier League debutant Durrant moved two points clear with victory over Van Gerwen in the meeting of the top two. Durrant, who was labelled as “boring” by the reigning champion heading into the crunch match, made the Dutchman eat his words in a stunning 7-3 victory.
Having reclaimed top spot on Tuesday on leg difference, Van Gerwen was looking to increase his advantage in the table but looked lackluster in response to a ruthless performance from Durrant, who averaged 104 and landed 58% of his checkouts.
After sharing the opening four legs, Durrant lit the fuse with a stunning 167 checkout to break the Van Gerwen throw. That sparked a run of four straight legs to guarantee Durrant a point to move him 6-2 ahead. Van Gerwen clawed one back, but it was only delaying the inevitable as Durrant finished 62 to secure a huge win.
In the final game of the night, Peter Wright kept up his charge on the play-off places as he comfortably saw off challenger Jeffrey de Zwaan 7-1 to move into third place, level on ten points with Van Gerwen. A stunning 130 checkout was the crowning moment for the world champion as he rarely looked troubled, cruising to victory with a 102 average.
The Premier League action continues on Thursday with Judgement Night, with the bottom-placed player set to be eliminated following the five ties at the Marshall Arena.
Aspinall’s tie with Smith opens proceedings before Van Gerwen takes on Anderson in a clash of two multiple world champions, before the three elimination battle matches follow.
Price first meets Dutchman Wattimena, who is the final challenger to take to the stage this season, and knows that one leg will ensure his survival. Gurney will then face Wright as the Northern Irish ace bids to cap his great escape, before Cross meets Durrant in what could be the pivotal tie in the race to avoid elimination.
Durrant is possibly the best bet of the night to win this. If you look at his stats and then take into account that he is top of the league and beat MVG easily last night then this should be a win for the former BDO world champion.
Cross has left himself with the worst task of all trying to get something out of Durrant at the moment. His form and confidence must be at an all-time low and it would need a massive turnaround to get a win as the draw may not be enough to survive. We do know that he could find some good form overnight, however, it would need to be well over the 100 average and around 60% plus on his doubles, but that is something that we have not seen from him for a while.
For me, a Durrant win at 3/4, with Durrant to be winning after four legs.
Aspinall did lose to Gurney last night, however, he still had over the 100 average and five 180s, so all in all it was a good scoring game. But it was missed doubles at crucial times that were very costly and in this game he will not be able to do that because he will be chasing on the scoring power so needs to take out shots consistently to get the win.
Smith did beat a very under par Cross in his match, however, he still had a good scoring game. He is hitting more 180s than them all at the moment and if he can turn that scoring power into wins then who knows what this guy could do.
Wright has played very well in both his games over the last two nights when drawing with Durrant and then beating De Zwaan last night. Wright’s game is very tidy at the moment and although you could pass over the form line when winning last night the form gets better from the draw as Durrant went on to beat MVG, so this should be another very strong performance from the William Hill world champion.
Gurney may already be out of the elimination zone if Cross loses the first match of the night so that will ease the pressure a bit. However, if he needs the win then it’s a different story. He did play well to beat Aspinall last night and the stats were very good, however, he is playing a different animal here and will need his A game from the start.
Both these players played great darts on the opening night and looked like they were going to carry it on, however, last night they both crashed and burned and threw the form line right out of the window.
The key for me is if MVG can get a quick start as he is tough to claw back when in front. However, if it is Anderson that gets that start then MVG might have a problem because he does not chase as well as he did.
Tough game to call at the moment and perhaps the draw would be the bail-out bet, however, I am with MVG to win at 13/20. Although these two haven’t been hitting the 180s I just feel that they might turn up with them in this game, so I’m also going for over 6.5 180s at Evens.
Wattimena is the contender this week and he is another one of these young Dutchman that throw very quick, so when he is on his game he can blitz them all. However, if the first dart keeps going astray then he does struggle.
Price beat Anderson last night and that was unexpected, especially the score-line of 7-1. The stats suggest that it was an average scoring game from him but he just punished his opponent from missed doubles.
Price should win this one quite convincingly at 8/15 as his confidence should be in the right place now, and a win here could put him in the frame for the play-offs.
And my treble for this evening is Durrant, Price and Wright to all win.
2020 Premier League results
Night Eight – August 26
Gerwyn Price 7-1 Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney 7-5 Nathan Aspinall
Michael Smith 7-3 Rob Cross
Glen Durrant 7-3 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 7-1 Jeffrey de Zwaan