Joe Cullen denied Michael van Gerwen a dream homecoming in Rotterdam on Thursday, defeating the Dutchman 6-5 in the final to pick up his first Cazoo Premier League night win. Cullen silenced the 10,000-strong Dutch crowd at the Rotterdam Ahoy with some clutch finishing under pressure to edge out home hero Van Gerwen in the Night Seven final.
Cullen had endured a difficult start to his maiden Premier League campaign and came into the night at the bottom of the table, but a victories over Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Van Gerwen saw him become the sixth different winner in the opening seven nights. “It’s great to get the win, there’s nothing better than playing a Dutchman in their backyard,” said Cullen.
“The crowd was unbelievable. I thought playing Jonny Clayton in Cardiff was special but this tops it.
“It’s a special night for me, especially to get the five points because I was struggling a bit at the bottom of the table but now I’m back.
“I don’t think I played much better than I did last week, the Premier League is tough every week
“I think the new format has helped me out, winning five points tonight keeps me right in the hunt for the Play-Offs.”
While neither Cullen nor Van Gerwen were at their flowing best in the final, the pair played out an unpredictable contest as Cullen recovered from 4-3 down.
After Van Gerwen missed a dart at double 16 to go 5-4 up, Cullen took out 114 to move within a leg of victory.
Van Gerwen forced a last-leg decider, but back-to-back 180s from Cullen in the final leg gave him time to finish the leg which he did on double four despite pressure from the Dutch favourite.
Cullen’s first experience of the unique Ahoy atmosphere was almost short-lived, as he survived four match darts from last week’s winner Anderson in a 6-5 quarter-final victory.
The 2022 Masters champion then battled past world number one Wright 6-4 in the semi-finals to reach his second final of the year, where he eventually picked up the £10,000 bonus.
Van Gerwen picks up three league points thanks to victories over Jonny Clayton and Michael Smith to maintain his position at the top of the table.
Losing semi-finalists Wright and Clayton leave Rotterdam with two points each thanks to 6-5 quarter-final wins over James Wade and Gerwyn Price respectively.
The Cazoo Premier League roadshow heads to Birmingham’s Utilita Arena on Thursday March 31 for Night Eight of the league phase, as Wright faces Anderson in a battle of Scottish legends.
The night’s other quarter-finals will see Van Gerwen play Wade, Cullen face Price and Clayton take on Smith as the £1 million tournament resumes.
The Cazoo Premier League is being broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers (excluding UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria & Switzerland)