It was an eventful night in Manchester, as Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts were eliminated from the Premier League, following defeats, before Michael van Gerwen’s 44 game unbeaten streak was ended by Raymond van Barneveld.
Klaasen and Huybrechts knew that they had to take at least three points from their next two matches going into tonight’s fixtures and both fell at the first hurdle.
The Belgian was the first to be relegated, as he was demolished 7-2 by a rampant Gary Anderson. The two-time World Champion notched finishes of 130, 104 and 132 as he claimed his third win of the campaign and put Huybrechts to the sword.
Klaasen meanwhile was edged out in a low quality affair against Adrian Lewis, where neither player averaged over 85.
Lewis was never behind in the encounter and moved into a 2-0 lead, only to be pegged back by solid finishing from Klaasen, who took out 73 and 46 to draw level. Jackpot re-established his two leg advantage before the pair both held, making it 5-3 to the Englishman.
Klassen, who has had his Premier League campaign blighted by tendonitis, came roaring back and levelled the match for the second time. First putting together a 14 dart leg before taking out 88 to give himself a real chance.
Lewis secured a point with a 13-darter but this didn’t matter, the Cobra needed just a point to keep his survival hopes alive going in to next week.
He failed to take the life line though and finally, at the eighth time of asking, Lewis found a double and condemned his Dutch opponent to relegation.
As a result, both will exit the Premier League after next weekend’s judgment night, leaving the remaining eight players to battle it out for the four play-off spots.
Elsewhere, it was a busy night for Michael van Gerwen, who played twice due to missing the Premier League’s visit to Exeter with a back injury.
He started his evening with a 7-4 win over James Wade, which helped the Dutchman move to the top of the league.
The opening stages of the encounter were even, as some quality arrows from both players saw them share the first four legs, van Gerwen missing the chance to break in the second leg. This was a feat he repeated in the sixth leg, this time missing two darts to break and allowing Wade to level once more at 3-3.
It wasn’t until the score was locked at 4-4 that van Gerwen made a decisive move. Hitting Wade with almost the full force of his scoring power, Might Mike landed two 180’s before finding double one to move into a 5-4 lead.
He sealed a point in the following leg, taking just 12 darts to ensure that he would beat Phil Taylor’s record of 43 games unbeaten. He then made sure of the win, watching Wade’s attempt at bull for a 121 miss the target, before plundering home a 120 of his own, finding double 10 for the victory.
His unbeaten run was to end at 44 matches though, as van Barneveld was to end van Gerwen’s hot streak in his second game of the evening.
Barney started quickly, claiming the first three legs and threatening the holy grail of a nine-dart finish in the process.
This seemed to upset the Green Machine, who weighed in with an 11-darter, and then breaking, before landing a 108 finish to level the encounter. Another 11 dart leg followed, as MvG took the lead for the first time.
It was then Barney’s turn to reel off consecutive legs. He took advantage of some sloppy throwing from his dutch counterpart to level the match at 4-4 before retaking the lead in 13 darts. The five-time World Champion found double 14 to seal a point and almost won the match in style, clipping the wire of the double 16 bed for a 131 finish.
Must player’s would have crumbled under pressure, as van Gerwen, who hadn’t lost on television since September, forced the match in to deciding. But Barney is made of sterner stuff and a clean kill of 70 saw him make it three straight wins and also rendered Might Mike’s unbeaten streak over.
In the evening’s other match, Phil Taylor returned to winning ways with a 7-5 victory over Peter Wright.
Taylor had lost his last two Premier League matches but he started brightly against Wright, finding a 64 two dart kill before finishing 112 to establish an early 2-0 lead.
A pair of eleven darters from Snakebite, either side of a regulation hold, changed the encounter and saw Taylor reeled in, with the scores level at 3-3.
Wright could have led the match for the first time, but he simply couldn’t find double 16 and Taylor rolled back the years with a clinical 61 kill. Missed doubles were to come back and haunt Wright, who ended the match with a checkout rate of just 29%. He missed more than six darts at double across the eighth leg and ninth leg to hand the initiative firmly back to Taylor at 6-3.
This is not to say that Taylor wasn’t tested, as a fantastic 156 finish from Wright flew in the face of his earlier double trouble. A 13 dart leg then forced a decider but the 16-time World Champion wasn’t to be beaten this evening. A well-timed 180 was followed by a 62 checkout, ensuring victory for Taylor.