CLAYTON CLAIMS BACK-TO-BACK PREMIER LEAGUE WINS IN BIRMINGHAM
Jonny Clayton made it back-to-back victories in the Cazoo Premier League after defeating Peter Wright in a last-leg decider to celebrate Night Ten success in Birmingham on Thursday.
Fresh from his brilliant Berlin victory a week earlier, Clayton extended his winning run in the Premier League to six games as he catapulted himself up to third in the table.
The affable Welshman claimed the spoils in Birmingham 12 months ago, and he repeated the feat at the Utilita Arena to strengthen his push for Play-Off qualification.
Clayton began Thursday's action with a crucial 6-4 victory over Nathan Aspinall, repeating his Night Four win over the Stockport star to move to within a point of the top four places.
The 2021 champion then sealed his place in Thursday's showpiece by dumping out Michael van Gerwen for a second straight week, as the Dutch superstar paid the price for a profligate display.
This set up an intriguing showdown against 2017 runner-up Wright, who returned to form to reach his first nightly final of this year's Premier League.
The opening four legs went with throw, before Wright struck the first blow, pinning double eight to break after Clayton wired the bull for a 122 combination.
The Welshman capitalised on two missed darts at double from Wright to restore parity, and the sequence of breaks continued until Clayton moved to the brink of victory at 5-4.
Wright forced a decider after surviving a match dart at the bull, but the roles were reversed in the last leg as the Scot missed the same target for victory, and Clayton capitalised to seal the deal via tops.
"It feels fantastic. Two weeks ago I was seventh, and now I'm third!" reflected Clayton, who averaged 95 to claim the 10,000 pound winner's bonus at the Utilita Arena.
"I think Birmingham brings the best version of The Ferret out! I love playing in these massive arenas with brilliant crowds, and I've got a big smile on my face right now.
"I'm confident I can make the Play-Offs, but it will still be a hard task. I think I'm good enough to be there, but there are eight players chasing the same dream.
"The game against Nathan was massive. That put me a point behind him so it was really important to close the gap, and now I've won the night. It's brilliant."
Wright travelled to Birmingham with a solitary win to his name in this year's competition, but he doubled his tally with a superb 6-1 quarter-final success against World Champion Michael Smith.
The Scot then booked his place in a first nightly final of 2023 with a deciding-leg win over Gerwyn Price, defying a stirring comeback from the Welshman to triumph with a 97 average in their semi-final.
In the evening's opening quarter-final, Van Gerwen defeated Dobey 6-2 in a high-quality affair, which saw both players average over 106.
Dobey whitewashed the Dutchman in their last meeting on Night Seven, but Van Gerwen avenged that defeat in emphatic style, landing five 180s and converting a 125 finish on tops to wrap up victory.
Elsewhere, in-form Price fended off a spirited rally from Dimitri Van den Bergh to prevail in a last-leg thriller, advancing with a 102 average before posting another three-figure average in defeat to Wright.
The Cazoo Premier League continues on Thursday April 13, as The Brighton Centre plays host to Night 11, with Clayton opening his bid for a third straight nightly win against Smith.
Elsewhere, Van Gerwen takes on Van den Bergh, Dobey faces Price, while Wright and Aspinall lock horns.