Nathan Aspinall and Jose De Sousa qualified for the Premier League Darts Play-Offs on night 15 of the event, despite neither winning their game in Milton Keynes.
De Sousa missed a dart to draw against table topper Michael van Gerwen, while Aspinall drew with Gary Anderson.
Peter Wright won his game with Jonny Clayton, but was eliminated from the top four race. That’s because Dimitri Van den Bergh drew with James Wade, setting up a shootout between Clayton and Van den Bergh for the final qualification spot tomorrow.
Van Gerwen battles to maintain top spot
In a tight and tense affair, MvG showed his class to grind out a result that sees him keep the top spot in the Premier League Darts table.
Despite missing five for the opening leg, The Special One went to the madhouse double one to eventually hold. Van Gerwen answered with a double 10 of his own, levelling up with De Sousa on double 11.
Both players held three times, with neither getting close on each other’s throw. However, the game changed in the ninth leg. Van Gerwen went off 180,140 and 101 to leave 80 after nine, hitting it for a 12 darter to break. Back to back 14 darters secured his point, as The Special One lost his scoring power.
De Sousa though would not go down with a fight. The Portuguese Man O’Scores broke in the 12th, hitting double 16 for a 15 darter to cut the gap to two. A comfortable 11 dart hold ensured a 14th and deciding leg, where The Special One left himself 100 after 12. However, he missed two at tops to earn a share of the spoils, allowing MvG to find tops for a 16 dart hold and a crucial two points. It means a point tomorrow will see him top the league phase for the eighth time in nine years.
Aspinall draws against Anderson to miss chance to go top
Nathan Aspinall and Gary Anderson played out an entertaining draw, but it may have hurt The Asp’s chances of finishing top.
Aspinall got off to the perfect start, breaking in 15 darts on tops in the first leg. Both players then held, including an excellent 12 dart leg for Anderson, before Aspinall hit a lovely 110 checkout to go 3-1 ahead.
The Flying Scotsman gained the upper hand. A 15 dart hold was followed by a brilliant leg, in which he left 24 after nine darts. He then found double six for an 11 dart break, and an excellent 118 outshot moved him ahead for the first time.
Back came The Asp though, winning the eighth leg to level despite missing seven for it. The ninth leg saw both players miss multiple darts to win it, including three for Anderson. Aspinall eventually found double seven to regain the lead, before a stunning 121 on the bullseye saw him go two clear once more.
Anderson held in the 11th, before both missed darts for the 12th. Anderson eventually found double 10 to level at 6-6. A fantastic 112 checkout from The Flying Scotsman got him a point, and he had a chance at taking all two, missing bullseye for a 129 shot. Aspinall, who’d missed two to take the draw, found double 10 to earn a share of the spoils.
Van den Bergh forces draw to set up Clayton shootout
Dimitri Van den Bergh fought back from 5-2 to get a draw against already eliminated James Wade.
The Dream Maker got on the board first, finding a 104 outshot to break the Wade throw. The Machine responded instantly, find an 81 finish on the bull to break back. Each player then held to make it 2-2.
Wade started to look like he’d taken control of the game. After holding once more, he punished four missed darts at double from Van den Bergh in the sixth leg, hitting a 72 outshot to go two clear. A further comfortable hold saw him lead 5-2.
Three further holds followed, including an excellent 127 finish on the bull from Van den Bergh, as Wade took a 6-4 lead. The pivotal leg of the match then followed, as both missed three darts to take the 11th. However, the World Matchplay Champion would find double eight to get the game back on throw.
A 104 checkout from The Dream Maker, and then a 121 outshot from Wade, gave The Machine a point. It looked like Van den Bergh would fail to capitalise on a Jonny Clayton defeat for the second straight night, but he found a fantastic 130 on the bullseye to secure a memorable draw. He will need to win tomorrow to get a place in the Play-Offs.
Wright eliminated despite comeback against Clayton
Peter Wright came from 5-2 down to defeat Jonny Clayton, but it was not enough to stay alive in the Premier League.
Both held in the opening two legs, before Clayton gained the ascendency. After holding in 16 darts, he produced back to back 13 darters to go 4-1 in front. Despite a 12 darter from Snakebite to cut the gap, The Ferret restored his three leg advantage on double four to go 5-2 ahead.
However, the match changed in the eighth and ninth legs. Welshman Clayton squandered two darts in each to go further in front, as a double five and tops checkouts from Wright got the match back on throw. A 13 darter from Snakebite levelled the game at 5-5.
The moment of the contest came in the 11th leg. Clayton hit a maximum to leave 50 after 12, but did not get a chance at it. With 161 remaining, Wright found treble 20, treble 17 and a bullseye bang in the middle, to stun The Ferret and produce a huge roar from the crowd. It was the first time he went in front in the game.
Both missed darts at double in the next two legs, but in the end, double eight and double two were found by Wright, as he reeled off six straight legs to take an 8-5 victory. However, due to the draw between Wade and Van den Bergh, he can no longer qualify for the Play-Offs. Clayton can draw tomorrow against Van den Bergh to secure the final qualifying spot.
Premier League Darts Night 15 Results
Wednesday 26 May (19.00 BST)
Peter Wright 8-5 Jonny Clayton
James Wade 7-7 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gary Anderson 7-7 Nathan Aspinall
Michael van Gerwen 8-6 Jose De Sousa
Premier League Darts Night 16 Fixtures
Gary Anderson v James Wade
Nathan Aspinall v Jose De Sousa
Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Jonny Clayton
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