Joe Cullen won his first Premier League night of the competition beating Michael van Gerwen 6-5 in the final in Rotterdam. The win sees Cullen move from the foot of the table into the play offs after seven nights played.
Van Gerwen despite losing, extended his lead at the top of the table to three points with both Peter Wright and Jonny Clayton losing in the semi-finals. The defeat to Cullen resulted in van Gerwen losing his first final of this year’s competition having beat Peter Wright and Michael Smith in nights three and four.
The opening match of the night was Peter Wright taking on James Wade with “Snakebite” prevailing in a 6-5 victory. The doubling from both was spectacular during the match with only seven missed darts at double between the pair.
Wade hit more 180s than Wright, but the world number one averaged four more points than his opponent just about getting him into the semi-finals.
Joe Cullen played Gary Anderson in the second quarter final as controversy followed with a 6-5 win for the “The Rockstar”.
Anderson was unimpressed with how close the Englishman was whilst he was throwing, with Cullen adamant he did nothing wrong.
Cullen was impressive as he only missed three darts at double in the entire match, despite Gary Anderson taking out a 164 checkout during the game. Cullen also hit three 180s and win his first match since Liverpool back in February.
Jonny Clayton won the all Welsh affair as he beat Gerwyn Price 6-5 with a strong performance from the “The Ferret” in Rotterdam.
Both were found their form on the doubles with ton plus checkouts from both as Price included a 154 checkout to break the Clayton throw. Price only missed one dart at double in the entire match missing tops in the very last leg to win.
The match was huge with players underneath them closing in, with Price dropping out of the top four as a result with Clayton staying in third. The Welshman hit two 180s and fourteen 140s averaging the highest of any player in the quarter finals on the night with a 98.50 average.
Michael van Gerwen received a strong reception from the home crowd as he faced Michael Smith in the final quarter final of the night. “Mighty Mike” clearly felt the pressure of being the only Dutchman in the league only averaging 89.53 in the match.
Michael Smith was off form as well with some off visits to the board with seven missed darts at double costing the Englishman, including two nervy darts at tops to potentially kick the match at the end.
Every quarter final played the max number of legs for the first time in the competition with a 6-5 score line in every game. All eight players had darts to win their quarter finals night in a very tense start to proceedings on night seven.
The two winners of the opening two matches collided in the first semi final as Peter Wright faced Joe Cullen for a place in the Rotterdam final. The match was very scrappy with many loose darts from both on stage, but Cullen found that extra bit of form to reach his second final of the competition.
Both averaged below 90 in the match, with four 180s and a 35.29% checkout rate being enough for Cullen as Wright missed eleven darts at double.
“Snakebite will be disappointed because he had an opportunity to go level at the top with Michael van Gerwen had he had won in Rotterdam.
Arguably the highest quality game of the night saw Jonny Clayton face Michael van Gerwen in the second semi final, with van Gerwen hitting the first three figure average of the night as he averaged 103.28 in a 6-3 victory. There were seven 180s in nine legs of darts as well as ton plus checkouts from both during the match.
Van Gerwen won the match with a 138-checkout finishing on double nine to reach his third final of the competition. Clayton will have felt he could have played better but is still three points clear of Gerwyn Price in fifth solidifying his spot in the play offs.
Joe Cullen met Michael van Gerwen in the final in Rotterdam with Joe Cullen knowing he needed to win to get back in the race for the top four. Gary Anderson came into Nottingham last week bottom of the league and won, with Cullen repeating the trick in Rotterdam.
Cullen nearly hit a nine darter in the eleventh and decisive leg of the match after hitting six perfect darts. He hit double four to close out the match with van Gerwen threatening to take out 55 if “The Rockstar” missed.
The world number 11 hit seven 180s in beating the Dutchman and accumulated a 50% checkout rate.
The Premier League returns to Birmingham next week for night eight with the Pro Tour action returning this weekend in Germany in Niedernhausen.
Peter Wright 6-5 James Wade
Joe Cullen 6-5 Gary Anderson
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Michael Smith
Joe Cullen 6-4 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Words Harry Masterson
Images: Kelly Deckers / PDC Europe