MAGICAL VAN GERWEN DENIES WADE IN DUBLIN THRILLER
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN produced a moment of magic to snatch victory against James Wade as the Betway Premier League visited Dublin's 3Arena on Thursday, when Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld also enjoyed wins.
Reigning Premier League champion Van Gerwen maintained his spot at the top of the league table with a scintillating 7-5 win over Wade in a game of the highest quality.
Wade led 4-2 early on after landing three 14-darters and a 13-dart leg, but saw Van Gerwen power ahead with a stunning four-leg burst, sparked by his second 12-darter of the contest, to secure a minimum of a draw at 6-4.
A 12-darter in reply from Wade forced a deciding leg, and the 2009 champion scored 140, 140 and 180 to leave 41 as he chased a draw - only to see Van Gerwen follow a 171 score with a stunning 138 finish to claim both points.
Van Gerwen ended the game with a seasons-best 113.62 average to Wade's impressive 110.82, and the World Champion said: "A good game comes from two players and James was phenomenal, and I want to give all credit to him.
"It was probably James' highest average in a long time, so I'm really glad I won it in the end. After I was 4-2 down I knew I had to do something extra if I was going to win the game, and I did that.
"Somehow I managed to do the 171 and the 138 when he was on 41 after nine darts. That takes a lot of capability, pressure and confidence to do that. I'm really glad I won this game and I needed it."
Six-time Premier League champion Taylor claimed a fine 7-3 victory over Raymond van Barneveld in what could be the great rivals' final encounter as they met in front of 9,000 fans at the 3Arena.
After the pair traded 121 bullseye checkouts in the early stages, Taylor pulled into a 4-1 lead by taking out 85 and a 13-darter.
Van Barneveld took out 124 as he pulled back to 4-3, but he was crucially unable to level as a pair of double 16 finishes pushed Taylor clear again before he took out 66 to seal victory.
"It's two points in the bag and it keeps me up there in the league table," said Taylor. "I'm still enjoying it and still trying to get into the Play-Offs.
"Raymond's playing some great darts and he always seems to be there, and over the years we've had so many great battles. Playing him in Dublin was extra special."
Van Barneveld later returned to the stage to defeat Wade 7-2, as the left-hander suffered a second defeat on his 34th birthday.
After Wade took the opening leg, Van Barneveld hit two 14-darters to move 3-1 up and also hit legs of 13 and 12 darts in pulling clear with four straight legs to claim the points.
"I was never close to winning the game against Phil but I had to focus and prepare for the game with James because I knew there was another two points to get," said Van Barneveld.
"Phil played an awesome game and his finishing was fantastic, so fair play to him, he beat me fair and square and it made it hard for me but I'm happy to get the two points against James."
Peter Wright came from 6-3 down to claim a draw with Dave Chisnall, who ended a three-game losing run in a game where he landed seven 180s and twice set up potential nine-darters.
After Chisnall opened with an 11-darter, legs of 14 and 13 darts from Wright moved him 2-1 up, but Chisnall took two of the next three before moving back ahead with a thrilling 145 finish in leg seven.
He also took the next two legs to secure a minimum of a point at 6-3, but Wright clawed back the next two legs to force a decider and traded maximums with his rival before finishing 64 to snatch a point.
"Obviously I wanted the two points but I didn't play exceptionally tonight and Dave punished me," said Wright. "When I was 6-3 down I knew I only had to break Dave's throw once and I did that, and it's a good point.
"Dave's shown the crowd just how well he can play and if he carries on playing the way he is then he's going to take plenty more points off the guys in the run-up to the finals."
Chisnall admitted: "I was happy to get the point but also disappointed not to get the two points because I was in control when I went 6-3 up and I slackened off.
"A big thing for me was keeping the darts straight and fluent, and I did that tonight. Peter's one of the best in the world, a class act, and I knew he would come back at me so a point's good."
Adrian Lewis drew level on 11 points in the league table with Gary Anderson as he avenged last week's defeat to the Scot with a sparkling 7-3 victory.
The pair shared the opening four legs, but Lewis punished a string of missed doubles from his rival to take five of the next six as he secured the win.
"It's massive," said Lewis. "It's all about belief and this showed you can go up there and beat anyone if you believe in yourself.
"Gary beat me last week but every game's different and I know that if I turn up, I've got a good chance and I did the job tonight.
"I knew that if Gary won I was four points behind the top four so it was crucial. Everybody's trying to get into the top four and I did the job tonight."