Thursday, August 5, 2021

Unibet Premier League: Week two round-up

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Tom Beresford
Sports journalist. Non-League football reporter. YouTuber, presenter, podcast host. Previously heard on FiveLive and Love Sport Radio. Managed by Epic Sports Management
Peter Wright (pictured) shows his delight after coming from 4-1 behind to secure a point against Michael Smith. Photography: Steve Welsh /PDC

As night two of the 2019 Unibet Premier League came to Glasgow, there was drama, several fightbacks, and some high-quality darting action at the SSE Hydro. In the opening match of the evening, Peter Wright produced a superb comeback to deny Michael Smith his first victory in the 2019 Unibet Premier League. Smith was flawless in the early phases of the match as he moved into a 4-1 and a 5-2 lead, but Smith missed some key doubles which allowed ‘Snakebite’ the chance to punish those missed opportunities from the St Helens man.

The crowd were on Smith’s back towards the end of the contest, and the pressure told in the end as Wright reeled off four legs in succession to secure a point, before Smith produced a 15-darter to secure his first point. Smith was visibly disappointed with the result.

Rob Cross registered his first win in this years competition as he saw off James Wade in a 7-4 victory for ‘Voltage’. The former World Champion really had to dig deep in the opening stages as he overturned a 3-1 deficit to reel off five legs on-the-spin to secure a point. Cross produced some fantastic legs in that five-leg rampage, Cross used just 66 darts to move 6-3 ahead (15, 13, 11, 12 & 15).

Wade did keep his hopes alive with a 16-darter, but Cross extinguished any hopes of a Wade resurgence with a 15-dart leg to end proceedings. A delighted Cross spoke to the PDC following his impressive display as the former electrician averaged 102.58 in his 7-4 victory over ‘The Machine’

“I missed a few darts early, maybe there were a few nerves but I’ve been working hard on my game and it’s paying off,” said Cross.
“I lost my smile last year, everything was difficult for me in my first Premier League season, it’s a ruthless competition but this year I’m playing properly and I’m enjoying it.”

In a night of comebacks, Raymond van Barneveld overturned a 6-2 deficit as the five-time World Champion reeled off five consecutive legs to secure a 6-6 draw with Gerwyn Price. The crowd in Glasgow were on Price’s back from the very first dart, but the Welshman seemed to handle it well as he produced some solid legs to move 6-2 ahead, but with the finishing line in sight, Price missed a total of four match darts as Van Barneveld went on to secure a point.

Price nearly ended the match in style as he narrowly missed D12 for a 144 finish to snatch a last-gasp win, but Van Barneveld secured a point by pinning D9 with his last dart in hand. Much like Michael Smith earlier in the evening, Price was visibly disappointed with the end result. As for Van Barneveld, the Dutchman was delighted to snatch a point: “From 6-2 you have to be happy with a point, I couldn’t have done it without the crowd – they were amazing as always,” said Van Barneveld. “I feel really proud of myself to get that point, I want to enjoy my last Premier League campaign and I think tonight was the start of that.”

In the penultimate match of night two in Glasgow, the three-time World Champion Glen Durrant made his debut as he took on ‘Superchin’ Daryl Gurney. As Durrant soaked up the atmosphere at the SSE Hydro, the atmosphere was electric, and despite kicking off the match with a maximum, Durrant was cruelly left with a mountain to climb as Gurney raced into a 4-0 lead.

The former World Grand Prix Champion was clinical on the doubles, and despite being so far behind, Durrant showed his class with some great legs, but it was all to little to late for the three-time World Champion as he produced legs of 13 and 11 darts from 6-1 down, before Gurney ended the match with a 14-darter. For Durrant, it was a superb attempt in terms of his power scoring as the Teessider averaged a shade under 100, and with a first-9 average of over 108, but the key statistic was the Checkout success category as Gurney hit 7/9 on the doubles compared to 3/12 from the debutant Durrant.

“I know I can outscore anybody but I’ve been doing a lot of practising on my finishing and I think that showed tonight,” said Gurney. “I really needed the win to get some points on the board because if I’d lost tonight then the pressure would’ve been on me, so now I can look to kick on and do some damage in this competition.”

Michael van Gerwen cemented his place at the top of the 2019 Unibet Premier League as the World no.1 saw off Austria’s Mensur Suljovic with a comfortable 7-3 victory. Suljovic looked to coming into some form as he came back from 3-0 down early on to move within a leg of the World no.1, but Van Gerwen showed his with a barrage of superb legs (13,12 & 15) before ending the match with a 13-darter. For Van Gerwen, it was a comfortable victory without Suljovic causing him any major problems despite the Austrian averaging 101 to Van Gerwen’s 99.82

“I wasn’t playing well in practice and I wasn’t at my best tonight but a win is a win and overall I’m happy with my game,” said Van Gerwen. “I did what I had to do at the key moments and now I’m top of the table I want to stay there, but there’s a long way to go.”

Night Two – Thursday February 14 – The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Peter Wright 6-6 Michael Smith
Rob Cross 7-4 James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld 6-6 Gerwyn Price
Daryl Gurney 7-3 Glen Durrant
Mensur Suljovic 3-7 Michael van Gerwen

Night Three – Thursday February 21 – 3Arena, Dublin
Gerwyn Price v James Wade
Steve Lennon v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney
Mensur Suljovic v Raymond van Barneveld

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