Michael van Gerwen hammers Rob Cross on opening night of Premier League Darts
New Premier League season opens with sparkling night of tungsten on Emerald Isle
By Paul Prenderville & Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 06/02/18 4:19pm
Michael van Gerwen made an impressive start to his title defence as he crushed new world champion Rob Cross on the opening night of Premier League Darts in Dublin.
Van Gerwen gained sweet revenge over Cross for his dramatic World Championship semi-final loss at the hands of the former electrician just 33 days ago with a ruthless display of darts to record an emphatic victory.
Michael Smith marked his return to the Premier League after a 12-month absence with a remarkable victory over Gary Anderson, who once again struggled with a back injury that may force him into an absence and saw him miss 18 darts that would have guaranteed him a point.
There were mixed fortunes for the three other debutants as Mensur Suljovic slipped to defeat against an inspired Simon Whitlock in a thrilling opener to the new season.
Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney missed three match darts that would have delighted the Dublin crowd with a debut victory. Instead, returning to the city of his maiden major, he saw 2014 champion Raymond van Barneveld claim the last three legs for a draw, while another new boy, Gerwyn Price, won the final three legs to hold Peter Wright.
Premier League Darts Results - Night One (Dublin)
|Mensur Suljovic||5-7||Simon Whitlock|
|Gary Anderson||5-7||Michael Smith|
|Daryl Gurney||6-6||Raymond van Barneveld|
|Michael van Gerwen||7-2||Rob Cross|
|Peter Wright||6-6||Gerwyn Price|
Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Rob Cross
World No 1 Van Gerwen began his bid to win a fourth Premier League in six years with a stunning display against debutant Cross.
Cross, who claimed the Alexandra Palace title by defeating Phil Taylor in the final, was unable to cope with the early tungsten tidal wave coming from the Dutchman.
Mighty Mike, who won last weekend's Masters to prepare for the Premier League in perfect fashion, rattled in three 114 checkouts and averaged 100.80 on his way to a sublime performance to gain revenge.
MVG has reached the last five Premier League finals, winning the title on three occasions including each of the last two years
Gary Anderson 5-7 Michael Smith
Having trailed 5-1 to The Flying Scotsman, Smith took advantage of a staggering collapse from the Scot to pick off the next six legs and record an opening night win that matches his tally of victories from his debut in the competition in 2016.
Ironically it was four missed darts from Bully Boy in the third leg that handed the initiative to Anderson, back-to-back check-outs of 108 and 85 saw the two-time champion forge four legs clear.
Smith's excellent 114 gave him hope but only after missed darts from Anderson for a 6-1 lead and it was then that the back problems that reared their head at the World Championships returned.
A pivotal ninth leg proved decisive as Anderson's struggles continued, 10 darts at a double went begging, as well as twice busting his score with his first dart on double one again and Smith continued to take advantage
A clinical 72 gave him the lead for the first time in the contest before he wrapped up the win to banish the disappointment of his debut in 2016 when he finished bottom of the table with a solitary victory.
Gary Anderson needs to get the back sorted....sooner rather than later. Clearly he cannot carry on playing in that amount of pain. I don't know what's wrong with it but you need to be comfortable up there.
Daryl Gurney 6-6 Raymond van Barneveld
Superchin was forced to settle for a point on his Premier League debut - sharing the spoils with Barney in a topsy-turvy encounter.
Gurney made a dream start to his Premier League career, firing in a maximum with his first three darts and following with a couple of clinical finishes for a 2-0 lead.
Barney took advantage of some first-night nerves from Gurney to punish missed doubles and battle his way into a 3-2 lead.
But back came Gurney to level with four brilliant darts from 183 and then double four gave him a 5-3 lead before six perfect darts had him on a nine-dart finish. The man from Derry made a mess of things to allow Barney a shot at 170 but the Dutchman missed bullseye and was duly punished as Gurney secured a point.
Van Barneveld was not to be outdone and either side of a couple of holds of throw in managed to break Gurney and with the match on the line, Gurney three missed match darts proved costly as an ice-cool 89 gave Barney a hard-earned point.
Consistency the key
Raymond van Barneveld has reached the Premier League play-offs on eight occasions - only Phil Taylor (12) has reached more
Mensur Suljovic 5-7 Simon Whitlock
In the opening match of the night, Suljovic and Whitlock served up a thriller with the Aussie marking his return to the Premier League with a brilliant 7-5 victory that saw him rally from 3-1 down, with an average of more than 106.
It was Suljovic, on his Premier League debut, who roared out of the gate, forging his early advantage thanks to a couple of scintillating finishes including a 121 in the opening leg of the match and a 110 in the third.
The Austrian missed at a dart at bullseye for a 4-1 lead and that opened the door for Whitlock who reeled off 14, 12 and 11 dart legs on his way to a 4-3 lead before a stunning 160 handed him a two-leg advantage.
Suljovic rallied again, a third 100+ finish of the match helped him back to level terms before a crucial 81 guaranteed the Aussie at least a point and he returned to pin double top for the match a memorable victory.
|121, 110, 138||100 check-outs||160|
Peter Wright 6-6 Gerwyn Price
Debutant Price battled back from 5-1 and 6-3 down to win five out of the last six legs to hold Wright, last year's Premier League runner-up, to a dramatic draw.
Wright, who missed six darts to defeat Van Gerwen in last year's final, was having problems with his equipment throughout the contest and missed four darts for the victory.
The Welshman, who lost out to Wright in the 2017 UK Open final, headed home to Cardiff in good heart when he punished a missed bull from his rival to force a decider before capitalising on a further three wasted chances to land double ten for a point.
Premier League Fixtures - Week Two (Cardiff)
|Michael Smith||v||Daryl Gurney|
|Rob Cross||v||Simon Whitlock|
|Michael van Gerwen||v||Peter Wright|
|Gerwyn Price||v||Gary Anderson|
|Raymond van Barneveld||v||Mensur Suljovic|
The 2018 Premier League heads to the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff next Thursday with coverage underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action. 15 weeks of tungsten action will continue through to the season's conclusion with the Play-Offs on May 17 at The O2 in London.
Keep up to date with the latest darts news, previews, reports, reaction and expert analysis. Get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts- don't forget to use #LoveTheDarts
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