TENACIOUS ASPINALL DENIES PRICE TO REIGN IN ROTTERDAM
Nathan Aspinall celebrated his first nightly victory of this year's Cazoo Premier League on Thursday, closing out a hard-fought win over Gerwyn Price to claim the spoils on Night 12 at Rotterdam Ahoy.
Aspinall made the trip to the Netherlands fresh from a chastening quarter-final defeat to Peter Wright in Brighton last week, but he bounced back magnificently to catapult himself up to third in the table.
The Stockport star kicked off his campaign by ending Michael van Gerwen's hopes of a dream homecoming in front of a sell-out 11,000 crowd, converting a 118 checkout to dump out the Dutch superstar in a last-leg decider.
Aspinall then moved through to his first final since Night Two in Cardiff, averaging over 99 to overcome Dimitri Van Bergh and set up a showdown against an in-form Price.
Aspinall drew first blood with a superb 124 combination, but Price responded in typically defiant style, taking out a 140 checkout in leg three to seize the initiative.
However, Aspinall replied with a brilliant three-leg burst to establish a 4-2 cushion, reeling off consecutive legs in 13, 13 and 12 darts to move two legs away from the 10,000 pound winner's bonus.
Price reduced the arrears with a comfortable hold in leg seven, but Aspinall was undeterred, moving to the brink of victory with another 13-dart hold, before sealing the deal with a 71 checkout in leg ten.
"Last week really hurt me, so to bounce back like I have tonight, I'm really proud," claimed Aspinall, the sixth different nightly winner in this year's Premier League.
"I have worked so hard. I've changed something to try and find what I needed to find to keep me calm in situations, and it's all come together tonight.
"That first game against Michael - I have never experienced an atmosphere like that before! I'm just really happy to finally get a nightly win and put myself back in the top four.
"I've always got the belief that I can win tournaments and nights in the Premier League, but after last week I didn't think I would be able to walk back on the stage. That's how bad I felt.
"I spent some great time with the family at the weekend. I took a little break away from darts, refocused myself, came here with a new attitude and I've won. I'm so proud of myself."
Price was denied his fifth nightly victory of 2023 in Thursday's decider, but the Welshman claimed a precious three points to move top of the table at Van Gerwen's expense.
The Welshman kicked off his Rotterdam campaign with a comeback win against World Champion Michael Smith, reeling off five consecutive legs from 3-1 down to triumph with a 102 average.
Price then produced another ton-topping average to dispatch his World Cup partner Jonny Clayton in the semi-finals, firing in six 180s en route to an emphatic 6-1 success.
Semi-finalists Van den Bergh and Clayton departed Rotterdam with two points apiece, courtesy of quarter-final wins against Peter Wright and Chris Dobey respectively.
Van den Bergh ended a run of four consecutive quarter-final defeats with a 6-3 success against Wright, which saw him leapfrog Dobey and move into sixth spot.
Masters champion Dobey succumbed 6-4 to a clinical Clayton in the evening's opener, with the Welshman landing three ton-plus finishes and averaging almost 101 to cap off a quality display.
The Cazoo Premier League roadshow heads to Leeds' First Direct Arena next Thursday, as league leader Price takes on Clayton in an all-Welsh affair on Night 13.
Van Gerwen will begin his bid for a fourth nightly win of 2023 against Wright, Aspinall takes on Van den Bergh, while Smith and Dobey lock horns in the evening's opener.
The 2023 Cazoo Premier League will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN, Viaplay and VTM, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.