DUTCH DUO DELIGHT ROTTERDAM SELL-OUT
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD and Michael van Gerwen thrilled the 10,000-strong Dutch crowd with victories as the Betway Premier League visited Rotterdam on Thursday, where Peter Wright retained his advantage at the top of the table.
Five-time World Champion Van Barneveld was spurred on by the incredible reception he received at Rotterdam Ahoy as he defeated Gary Anderson 7-2.
Van Barneveld hit 180s in the opening three legs as he took a 3-0 lead and also finished a sensational 156 checkout and a ten-darter on his way to a third win of the season.
The victory also moved the 2014 Premier League champion up to fourth in the league table above Anderson, for whom a 108 finish was not enough.
"It was massive for me, a brilliant night," said Van Barneveld, who emotionally addressed the Rotterdam crowd afterwards. "Gary has beaten me the last 11 times, but I kept believing in myself and tonight everything went well.
"I was finishing well, and in the end a 7-2 result against the world number two is a big effort. Gary's hard to beat and a tough competitor but I know I can beat anyone.
"To play in front of your home crowd means a lot and I didn't want to let them down. I'm really happy with this victory and I believe I can make the Play-Offs."
World Champion Van Gerwen was also given a heroes' welcome as he took to the stage in his homeland, and he overcame a slow start to defeat Phil Taylor 7-4.
Taylor hit finishes of tops, 96 and 73 as he opened up a 3-0 lead, but van Gerwen clawed his way back level before finishing 82 and 78 to assume command.
Taylor hit back in leg nine, but the Dutchman was not to be denied as he picked up a fourth win of the season to remain second in the table ahead of his double-header in Manchester next week.
"It was difficult and it was a different kind of pressure for me tonight," said Van Gerwen. "You want to give the fans something back and maybe we both didn't play as well as we could.
"I got the job done and won, which was the most important thing."
World number three Wright remains a point clear of Van Gerwen at the top of the league table following his 7-4 win over Dave Chisnall.
Wright - whose orange mohawk matched the majority of the 10,000-strong sell-out crowd at the Ahoy arena - took leads of 2-0 and 5-2 before denying Chisnall any hope of a fightback.
Wright said: "It wasn't a great performance but it's two points and you'll take that against Dave because he's a powerful scorer.
"The crowd were amazing and it was fantastic to play in front of a crowd like that because I loved it. It was incredible when they sang my name - it's a shame I didn't put on more of a show for them but I got the win."
James Wade temporarily silenced the Dutch crowd in the night's opening game with a 7-3 win over bottom-placed Jelle Klaasen, who is now facing elimination in a fortnight.
Wade took an early 2-0 lead to take control, and mid-range checkouts of 76, 82, 64 and 71 helped the left-hander maintain his own push for a Play-Off place.
"Jelle didn't play as he can, and if you give me a little sniff I'll have the lot," said Wade. "It's nice to be British in Holland and win!"
Klaasen now sits three points adrift at the foot of the table alongside Kim Huybrechts after the Belgian's 7-3 loss to Adrian Lewis, whose second successive win eases his worries of being drawn into the elimination battle.
The Betway Premier League continues at The Manchester Arena next Thursday, with Van Gerwen playing twice to make up his game in hand after being forced to miss the visit to Exeter a fortnight ago with a back injury.
The world number one plays Wade and Van Barneveld in Manchester, while Anderson faces Huybrechts, Wright meets Taylor and Klaasen takes on Lewis, with Chisnall sitting out the night after playing twice in Exeter.