Premier League: Power cuts out on Machine
The Premier League heads into the final week of the regular season with very little decided after the 13th night at the NIA in Birmingham.
Simon Whitlock confirmed his place in the play-offs, Gary Anderson was the first man out of the competition, Phil Taylor underlined that he will be the man to beat and by common consent this is one of the tightest seasons of this tournament in years with five players chasing the two remaining places for the next stage.
Andy Hamilton, who was being written of a couple of weeks ago, but the Hammer nailed Whitlock 8-4.
Neither player was producing much of their best play in the early part the match as they shared the first six legs. Then two misses from Whitlock allowed Hamilton to win the seventh leg with a 72 checkout, and he then finally broke throw by defying another 180 from Whitlock for a 14-dart finish to go 5-3 up.
Whitlock missed five darts as Hamilton won the ninth leg before he finished double 16 for a 7-3 lead and, although won the next, but Hamilton fired in a 177 and double tops for a valuable victory.
Kevin Painter was another player who was not expected to still be in the fight for a play-off place but the Artist brushed aside double world champion Adrian Lewis for an 8-3 win. Lewis had made an indifferent start to the Premier League but had been coming on strongly of late, no less so than when he beat Taylor at Bournemouth last month.
Painter had won the opening two legs, with finishes of 100 and 106, and then two maximums put him in for a possible nine-darter. That did not happen but he finished with a 61 on double 18 for a 12-darter.
Lewis won the fourth and sixth legs but, when he missed the bull in the next, Painter finished double 16 to pull away again and then double eight put him 6-2 ahead. And it could have been different but for a sloppy second dart on a 113 combination by Lewis, when he hit the treble 20 but missed the single 13 which would have left a double.
Painter then hit his third 180 of the game in the ninth leg, before nailing a stunning 150 checkout - with Lewis waiting on 81 after hitting three successive 140s – that had Painter 7-2 up. Lewis came back with a 13-darter to stay in the match but Painter was first to a finish in the 11th leg and landed double 12 to take the points.
It was a point each in the match between Gary Anderson, the defending champion, and Raymond van Barneveld when they drew 7-7. That meant an early exit for Anderson and that Van Barneveld remains in contention for the semi-finals but will probably need to beat James Wade to do so.
Wade could have qualified but the Machine found a rather large spanner thrown in the works in the shape of Taylor.
The 15-times world champion was in the sort of mood when he would probably have beaten anyone.
He reeled off the first six legs, beginning with a 12-darter, with Wade looking for little more than a chance of aiming for a finish. Taylor was on course for a first televised average of above 120 at that point but had to settle for a somewhat near-mortal 116.10.
Wade finally got off the mark in the seventh leg by finishing 100 on double 10, but Taylor replied by starting off the next with a 174 before finishing double 10 for a 13-darter. Taylor also hit a 174 to leave 32 in the ninth, and when Wade missed two darts to keep the game alive he took out the finish for an 8-1 win.
Taylor can relax with his match against Gary Anderson in Newcastle next week carrying little more than pride. "It's an amazing scrap between the guys," Taylor said to pdc.tv. "I'm delighted that I can enjoy my game next week and then watch the other guys fighting it out because it's a great way to end the league season.
"My win over James puts him under pressure next week and I know he'll want to respond, but all the guys are fighting for their lives and there's no second chances from now on."
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