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Players Championship: Jonny Clayton boost Premier League finals night hopes with victory over Josh Rock in final

Jonny Clayton secured a first Players Championship success for over two years as he overcame Josh Rock 8-5 in the final in Leicester; Clayton faces Gerwyn Price in the semi-finals on Premier League finals night on Thursday; watch finals night at The O2 live on Sky Sports

Jonny Clayton triumphed in Players Championship 12 in Leicester (PDC)
Image: Jonny Clayton triumphed in Players Championship 12 in Leicester (PDC)

Jonny Clayton claimed a first Players Championship title in over two years as he defeated Josh Rock 8-5 in the final of Players Championship 12 in Leicester on Sunday.

Clayton produced a trio of ton-plus averages en route to his second ProTour title of the year, providing himself the perfect tonic ahead of his bid for a second Cazoo Premier League crown on Thursday at The O2.

The five-time TV title winner defeated Dave Chisnall and Damon Heta in the quarter and semi-finals respectively, before seeing off the challenge of Rock, who knocked out Michael van Gerwen in the last 16, to rack up a fifth Players Championship title of his career.

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"Josh is a class act with a massive future so I'm going to enjoy any win against him, especially in a final," Clayton, who defeated Rock to win the Austrian Darts Open final in April as well, said.

"I'm playing okay again, and I've got a smile on my face. Hopefully it gives me that confidence to pick up the trophy for a second time."

Clayton began the day in style, averaging 109.98 in a 6-0 whitewash of Karel Sedlacek, before coming through a last-leg decider with Jurjen van der Velde.

A 6-1 win over Kim Huybrechts was followed by a 107.40 average in a 6-4 victory over Pascal Rupprecht to reach the last eight at the Morningside Arena.

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Dimitri Van den Bergh got his first win of the Premier League season on the final night of regular action, as Jonny Clayton secured the final play-off spot and Michael van Gerwen suffered an injury ahead of next week at the O2

Having taken out top seed Chisnall, Clayton averaged 103.45 to edge out Heta 6-5 before defying a near-100 average from Rock in the final.

Rising star Rock took the scalps of former world champions Van Gerwen and Gary Anderson in the last 16 and last 32 respectively, averaging 105.85 in a 6-5 win over Anderson.

Elsewhere, UK Open champion Andrew Gilding enjoyed a run to the semi-finals, while Croatia's World Cup representative Boris Krcmar reached his first ranking quarter-final of the year.

Premier League table topper Gerwyn Price, Clayton's play-off semi-final opponent, fell at the last 16 stage to Joe Cullen.

""I came here this weekend to get valuable match practice," Clayton said. "I'm playing Gerwyn Price, arguably the best player in the world, on Thursday night so I need the practice.

"I'll admit I'm the laziest practiser at home, so I needed this and it keeps me sharp for next week."

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