Wade Shocks Van Gerwen In Exeter

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JAMES WADE ended Michael van Gerwen’s winning start to the 2019 Unibet Premier League season with an emphatic 7-3 victory over the Dutchman at Westpoint Exeter.

Night Four of the campaign saw four-time champion Van Gerwen taste defeat in a televised match for the first time since November, as Wade repeated his 2016 Premier League triumph over the world number one.

Eight missed doubles in the opening six legs from Van Gerwen saw Wade make the most of his opportunities to stay in the contest at 3-3.

The second half of the game saw Wade turn on the style, romping home to a memorable win without allowing Van Gerwen a shot at double in the final four legs.

Wade found a crucial double 19 with his last dart in hand for a 65 finish to break throw and take the lead for the first time, before holding throw to take full control of the tie.

A clinical 121 checkout on the bullseye followed as Wade sealed a point, before finishing the job in the next leg, finding double 18 at the third attempt to record an impressive win and fire himself up to second in the table.

“I think, performance-wise, it was my worst performance of the season but I took my chances and hit a few more doubles than Michael,” said Wade.

“He didn’t play his game there and gifted me some opportunities. I didn’t play as well as I wanted to and that frustrates me, but I’ll move on and enjoy things.

“A lot of people fold against Michael when they shouldn’t and I stuck at it tonight, so I’m delighted to win and I’m really happy to be second in the league.”

World Championship quarter-finalist Luke Humphries drew 6-6 with Gerwyn Price on his Premier League debut, in a game which saw Price miss double 12 for a nine-dart finish in his third consecutive draw.

An electric start to the evening began with Price emulating the form which saw him win back-to-back ProTour titles last weekend as the Welshman fired in a 147 finish to take a 3-1 lead.

Rising star Humphries hit straight back with a 161 checkout to halve the deficit, before Price came agonisingly close to landing the first perfect leg of this year’s Premier League.

Growing in confidence, Humphries took out his second bullseye finish of the match for an 81 checkout, which he followed with a 94 combination to hit the front for the first time at 5-4.

Two holds of throw followed, and after Humphries agonisingly missed double 14 for a 148 finish to take victory, Price took out 76 under pressure to claim a point from a thriller and maintain his unbeaten start to the campaign.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a while and I love playing up on the big stage,” said Humphries, one of the nine Contenders replacing Gary Anderson in the event.

“After the first three legs I’m happy with my performance, we were both brilliant and I really enjoyed the game. Gerwyn could be the second best player in the world on form so it shows my credentials and I’m happy with a draw.

“I’ve got to keep working hard and get the consistency but I loved every minute of it up there. I’ve got to work on my floor form because I want more nights like this. This could be the kick start for my season.”

2018 Premier League finalist Michael Smith claimed his first win of the season against Raymond van Barneveld to climb off the foot of the table and send the departing Dutchman bottom in the process.

Van Barneveld took a 3-1 lead, before Smith won three successive legs to go in front, only for Van Barneveld to halt the Smith charge and make it 4-4.

That was as good as it got for the former Premier League champion as injury-hit Smith battled through the pain barrier to land a 90 checkout to go 6-4 up, before finding his favourite double top in the following leg to end his winless start to the season.

Mensur Suljovic also claimed his first win of the campaign as he fought off a Peter Wright comeback to run out a 7-4 victor.

After world number three Wright took the opening leg, Suljovic ran off six legs without reply, sealing at least a draw with a 121 checkout.

Wright stopped the rot to make it 6-2, following it up with finishes of 81 and 85 to make Suljovic sweat at 6-4.

However, the following leg saw the Austrian wrap up victory with his third attempt at a match-winning double to end Wright’s unbeaten start to the season.

Rob Cross romped to a 7-1 triumph over Daryl Gurney as the former World Champion bounced back from his disappointing 7-2 defeat to Michael van Gerwen in Dublin on Night Three.

The first six legs saw Cross relentlessly and clinically deny Gurney an attempt at double, taking out 153 – his highest finish of the season so far – on his way to a 6-0 lead.

Gurney took out 80 in two darts to avoid the whitewash, only for Cross to pin double six to seal victory in the next leg.

“I’m feeling a lot happier in myself this year and that’s showing in my performances,” said Cross.

“Last week I tried too hard but I’ve been playing well lately and I’m enjoying myself. Daryl didn’t get going and I was prepared for him to kick in, so I’m grateful to get the two points. 

“The 153 was a killer, a game-changer. I was always in control though and it felt good tonight. I believe I can get stronger and I’ve got another gear to go to.”

The Unibet Premier League continues on Thursday March 7 with Night Five in Aberdeen, as Van Gerwen takes on local favourite John Henderson, the Contender selected to compete at the BHGE Arena.

The top four players at the end of 16 nights will face off in the Play-Offs at The O2 on May 23, while the ninth-placed player following Judgement Night in Rotterdam will face an early elimination.

The stars of the Premier League will first travel to the Butlin’s Minehead Resort to compete in this weekend’s Ladbrokes UK Open from March 1-3.

2019 Unibet Premier League

Night Four – Thursday February 28

Westpoint Exeter

Luke Humphries (C) 6-6 Gerwyn Price

Daryl Gurney 1-7 Rob Cross

Mensur Suljovic 7-4 Peter Wright

Michael van Gerwen 3-7 James Wade

Michael Smith 7-4 Raymond van Barneveld

2019 Unibet Premier League Table

    P W D L +/- LWAT Pts
1 Michael van Gerwen 4 3 0 1 +7 9 6
2 James Wade 4 2 1 1 +4 8 5
3 Rob Cross 4 2 1 1 +4 7 5
4 Gerwyn Price 4 1 3 0 +3 9 5
5 Mensur Suljovic 4 1 2 1 -1 9 4
6 Peter Wright 4 1 2 1 -1 8 4
7 Daryl Gurney 4 2 0 2 -3 8 4
8 Michael Smith 4 1 1 2 -1 9 3
9 Raymond van Barneveld 4 0 2 2 -6 7 2

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