Gary Anderson won night six of the Premier League as he defeated Michael Smith to get back in the race for the playoffs. The former back-to-back world champion was three points adrift of the other players coming into Nottingham and was the bookmaker’s least likely winner after his start to the tournament.
Anderson’s win moves him up to sixth in the league and two points of Gerwyn Price in fourth with Michael Smith also moving up to fifth after back-to-back final appearances for the world number four.
The opening match of the night saw Smith take on James Wade, with “Bully Boy” blowing “The Machine” away in a 6-1 victory winning five legs on the spin to make it through to the semi-finals. It was a torrid night on the doubles for Wade with one out of nine of his attempts at double finding the target.
Both averaged over 102 but it was Smith who rose to the occasion, including a 66 checkout in the match. Wade will be gutted with how the result went as he hit more 180s and 140s than his opponent, with the “Machine” moving to seventh in the league after back-to-back quarter-final defeats.
Michael van Gerwen’s win streak in the Premier League came to an end at the hands of Gerwyn Price, with the Welshman returning to action after a wrist injury that ruled him out Hildesheim and Brighton last week.
The Dutchman started strong racing into a 3-1 lead breaking the Price throw in the fourth leg with a 144 checkout, only for Price to come back and level at 3-3 with a 130 checkout of his own. He averaged 102.70 as he went on to win 6-4 against “Mighty Mike” to deny him three-night wins in a row.
Gary Anderson knew going into his match with Jonny Clayton that he had to win to have any chance of making the playoffs and a win is what he got. The doubling was sublime from the Scotsman as he checked out at 54.55% in beating Clayton 6-5 and winning for the first time since Cardiff at the start of February.
The game was scrappy with both averaging below 92, as well as only one maximum in the entire match courtesy of Anderson. Clayton fired a 107 checkout in the seventh leg and missed a dart at the bull to win the match himself trying to take out 128. Anderson returned to the oche and hit double four and relieve himself of the stress of losing in the quarter-finals for the fifth week running.
Peter Wright also came into Nottingham after injury as he was forced to withdraw from the German Darts Championship with a back problem ahead of a quarter-final with Michael van Gerwen. He defeated Joe Cullen 6-4 in the last quarter-final of the night to set up an all-Scottish semi-final with Anderson.
Like the game previously, the game was very scrappy as both averaged below 88. The world number one finished on 64 to sink the “Rockstar” to the bottom of the league, with Cullen winning in Liverpool twice and receiving a bye to the semi-finals being the only points achieved so far.
Michael Smith came back from 4-0 down to defeat Gerwyn Price and reach the final, winning the last six legs against the Welshman. Price failed to register a maximum in the match but wasted no time in racing to a 4-0 lead including a 110 checkout in the fourth leg.
“Bully Boy” came back into the match hitting double ten in the fifth leg to get his first leg on the board, with Smith pushing on and including a 106 checkout of his own to break the throw and level the game at 4-4.
Smith finished the match with on double ten to make it the double he hit to win his first and last leg of the match. The win saw Smith reach back-to-back finals since the introduction of the new format.
Gary Anderson beat Peter Wright in the second semi-final to reach the final for the first time this year, meaning every player in the league has now reached at least one final. Anderson only missed three darts at double in the entire match and averaged 101.88 in a 6-3 win.
Both players hit four maximums on stage, but Anderson was more clinical of the pair as he finished the match on 72 taking out double tops with his one and only dart at the target to book his place against Michael Smith in Nottingham.
The final saw Anderson produce his best darts of the night as he condemned Michael Smith to back-to-back final defeats as he won 6-4 to move off the bottom of the league. The world number six averaged 104.24 in beating the man from St Helens with five 180s in the final.
Smith only missed two darts at double, but the scoring power of Anderson was too much for the World Championship runner-up, with Anderson winning four legs in a row starting in the fourth leg of the match.
The action continues as the Players Championship events return for events five and six in Barnsley this weekend, with Joe Cullen winning the last event back in February.
Michael Smith 6-1 James Wade
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Michael van Gerwen
Gary Anderson 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 6-4 Joe Cullen
Michael Smith 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Gary Anderson 6-3 Peter Wright
Gary Anderson 6-4 Michael Smith
Images: Taylor Lanning/PDC
Words: Harry Masterson
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