Clayton goes back to back in Birmingham to boost his playoff hopes
Clayton goes back to back in Birmingham to boost his playoff hopes.
Jonny Clayton won a Cazoo Premier League night for the second time in a row after defeating Peter Wright in a last-leg decider in Birmingham on Thursday.
Clayton extended his Premier League winning streak to six games after a brilliant Berlin victory a week earlier, catapulting himself to third in the table.
The affable Welshman won in Birmingham a year ago, and he repeated the feat at the Utilita Arena to bolster his bid for Play-Off qualification.
Clayton started Thursday’s action with a crucial 6-4 win over Nathan Aspinall, repeating his Night Four victory over the Stockport star to move within a point of the top four places.
The 2021 champion then clinched his spot in Thursday’s showpiece by dumping out Michael van Gerwen for the second week in a row, as the Dutch superstar paid the price for a careless performance.
This set up an intriguing matchup with 2017 runner-up Wright, who returned to form to reach his first nightly final of the Premier League this year.
Wright struck the first blow, pinning double eight to break after Clayton wired the bull for a 122 combination after the first four legs went with throw.
The Welshman took advantage of two missed double darts by Wright to restore parity, and the sequence of breaks continued until Clayton was on the verge of victory at 5-4.
After surviving a match dart at the bull, Wright forced a decider, but the roles were reversed in the final leg when the Scot missed the same target for victory, and Clayton capitalised to seal the deal via tops.
“It feels fantastic. Two weeks ago I was seventh, and now I’m third!” reflected Clayton, who averaged 95 to claim the £10,000 winner’s bonus at the Utilita Arena.
“I think Birmingham brings the best version of The Ferret out! I love playing in these massive arenas with brilliant crowds, and I’ve got a big smile on my face right now.
“I’m confident I can make the Play-Offs, but it will still be a hard task. I think I’m good enough to be there, but there are eight players chasing the same dream.
“The game against Nathan was massive. That put me a point behind him so it was really important to close the gap, and now I’ve won the night. It’s brilliant.”
Wright came to Birmingham with just one win in this year’s competition, but he doubled it with a 6-1 quarter-final victory over World Champion Michael Smith.
The Scot then advanced to the first nightly final of 2023 with a deciding-leg victory over Gerwyn Price, defeating the Welshman with a 97 average in their semi-final.
Van Gerwen defeated Dobey 6-2 in the evening’s first quarter-final, in a high-quality match in which both players averaged over 106.
Dobey dominated the Dutchman in their previous meeting on Night Seven, but Van Gerwen avenged that defeat with five 180s and a 125 finish on tops to claim victory.
In other news, in-form Price held off a spirited rally from Dimitri Van den Bergh to win a last-leg thriller, advancing with a 102 average before losing to Wright with another three-figure average.
2023 Cazoo Premier League
Night Ten – Thursday April 6
Utilita Arena, Birmingham
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Chris Dobey
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Wright 6-1 Michael Smith
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 6-5 Gerwyn Price
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Peter Wright
2023 Cazoo Premier League
Night 11 – Thursday April 13
The Brighton Centre
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Michael van Gerwen
Chris Dobey v Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright v Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton v Michael Smith