James Wade finally got over the line and won his first Premier League night, beating Joe Cullen in a last leg decider to clinch the £10,000 winners’ bonus and five points which have given The Machine a three-point cushion in the table.
Cullen was Wade’s nearest challenger to the top four, with the Bradford born darting star one point behind World Number 5 Wade. So, the match was massive for the race for the Play Offs with their now being just six weeks to play in this year’s competition ahead of Finals night in Berlin scheduled to take place in June.
Double ten proved a very happy hunting ground for Wade, hitting it to take three legs of the six he won on stage including a 68 out to go 5-4 up on throw. Cullen hit a 107 checkout to hold throw on double 16 to lead 2-0 early on having broke his opponent in the opening leg of the match.
The opening match of the night saw Gerwyn Price enter the Manchester Arena with a new walk on song, which seemed to do the trick beating World Number one Peter Wright 6-4 to end his three-week losing streak.
Price averaged 97.01 in the match and included checkouts of 157 in the third leg to take a 2-1 lead against the Wright darts, before closing the match out on 97 in two darts to send Snakebite packing early in Manchester.
James Wade averaged 100 plus in two of his matches this evening starting with his Quarter Final with Gary Anderson, running out a 6-2 winner sinking the Scotsman further in the race for the top four. The Flying Scotsman is in big trouble now, currently 11 points of opponent Wade in fourth and was immediately broken by his opponent hitting double ten to finish 25 in two darts.
Wade was a force on double ten hitting it to close the match on his throw, just before taking out 90 on double fifteen to break the Anderson throw. The Scotsman hit an 87 out to take the fifth leg and his second, hitting double eighteen after hitting treble 17 to set it up. The doubling from both in the game was brilliant, with only seven missed between the two on the oche in the entire match.
Jonny Clayton came through a tense last leg decider against the throw to beat Michael van Gerwen in the third Semi Final, in arguably the game of the league campaign so far. Both averaged in three figures, as Mighty Mike had to fall a loser with a 105.14 average in what would have won him many matches in the past.
His opponent on the night, scored 109.10 and missed just three darts at double including a tense last dart at double 16 to complete a 71 out which he hit to win 6-5 against the World Number Three. The Dutchman hit spectacular back-to-back ton plus checkouts hitting 152 on double 16 to hold throw before a 131 out on the same double to break the throw and make the Quarter Final level at 2-2.
Clayton showed his form on the outer ring, delivering two dart checkouts on 80 in the tenth leg on double ten to level at 5-5, after hitting 96 on double eighteen in two to take the eighth leg and level the match. The Ferret’s win saw him cut van Gerwen’s lead at the top of the league to just one point going into the Semi Finals.
Joe Cullen was the final man through to the Semi Finals as he beat Michael Smith 6-2, with three maximums and a 94.38 average. The Rockstar broke the Smith throw twice in the first four legs hitting tops to take the second leg, before hitting 93 on double eighteen in two darts to lead 4-0 on the oche.
Bully Boy took out 87 on double eighteen as well to win the seventh and his second leg of the night, but it was Cullen’s night who finished the match in style as he took out 125 on tops to seal the eighth and final leg of the match. Like Jonny Clayton, The Rockstar missed three out of his nine darts at double on the Manchester stage in booking his spot in the Semi Finals against the Welshman.
James Wade and Gerwyn Price faced each other last week in Leeds with Wade prevailing ahead of their Semi Final on Night 10. It was de ja vu, as Wade came out the victor yet again, beating Price 6-2 including a 117 checkout on tops to take a 2-0 lead having broke the Welshman on the same target in leg one.
The Machine then hit the highest checkout of anyone in Manchester in the third leg, seeing the bullseye cap of a 161 checkout to break Price again and lead 3-0, as he hit double ten yet again to go within two of a whitewash.
Price won leg five before Wade hit another ton plus checkout, this time hitting 102 on tops to go 5-1 up in the Semi Final. The Iceman hit 76 on double eight in two darts to win his second leg of the match before Wade hit double five to reach his third consecutive final in Manchester.
Jonny Clayton failed to go level with Michael van Gerwen after losing to Joe Cullen 6-3 in the second Semi Final of the night. Cullen took 90 on double five with his last dart to get his first leg on the board after Clayton opened the match hitting 25 on double eight to lead.
The Welshman lost with a 101.76 average, with his opponent winning with a score just shy of 95 but missed just four darts at double in the entire match. The Rockstar closed the match out with a 117 out on his favourite double tops, which gave Cullen his third Final appearance of the league after losing in Liverpool before winning in Rotterdam.
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Peter Wright
James Wade 6-2 Gary Anderson
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Joe Cullen 6-2 Michael Smith
James Wade 6-2 Gerwyn Price
Joe Cullen 6-3 Jonny Clayton
James Wade 6-5 Joe Cullen
Michael van Gerwen: 22pts
Jonny Clayton: 21pts
Peter Wright: 18pts
James Wade: 18pts
Joe Cullen: 15pts
Gerwyn Price: 11pts
Michael Smith: 8pts
Gary Anderson: 7pts
Words: Harry Masterson
Image: Simon O’ Connor PDC