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Article: McCoy^s Premier League Darts - Night Four Preview

McCoy^s Premier League Darts - Night Four Preview


PHIL TAYLOR is bidding to maintain his position at the head of the McCoy^s Premier League Darts at Exeter^s Westpoint Arena on Thursday, as basement rivals Wes Newton and Adrian Lewis clash in a key contest.

Reigning champion Taylor will take on world number four James Wade in one of five matches being held as darts^ huge roadshow event visits Exeter in week four of the 14-night league season.

World Champion Taylor, who hit a Premier League record average of 117.35 against Simon Whitlock at the Westpoint Arena last year, tops the league table after winning two and drawing one of his opening three matches.

Five players, including Wade and Dutch pair Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen, sit just behind Taylor on four points in the league table - with all ten stars bidding to avoid elimination following nine weeks in this year^s revamped tournament.

"I^m really enjoying the Premier League so far this year," said Taylor. "It^s a hard slog and you^re not going to win the Premier League in the first few weeks - but you can lose it!

"The relegation factor is bringing a different pressure to everyone and the boys further down are starting to feel it. It^s not always about losing but about how you play when you lose, and you^ve got to play well week-in, week-out."

Taylor created history against Wade in the 2010 Premier League final against Wade when he hit two nine-dart finishes, and the left-hander often brings the best out of the 16-time World Champion.

"James is a cracking player," said Taylor. "He^s had his problems but I know he^s dedicated and he^s getting his rewards.

"He^s one of the best finishers I^ve ever seen and we^ve had many, many great games down the years. I know I^ve got to perform against him because he^ll punish you if you give him chances."

The night will also feature a crucial battle at the foot of the table, as winless pair Adrian Lewis and Wes Newton clash.

Newcomer Newton picked up his first point of the season last week when he drew with Thornton in Bournemouth - although after leading 6-3 was "gutted" not to close out victory - while Lewis lost 7-4 to Wade to suffer a third straight defeat.

"It^s a massive game for both of us because neither of us want to be where we are in the table and whoever loses is going to be in a really bad position," said Fleetwood^s Newton.

"I^m happy with how I came through last week and I played a lot better than I did in the first couple of weeks, so I know my form^s coming back. I think I did everything right last week apart from get the win.

"From 6-3 up I probably started thinking about getting my first win, which I shouldn^t have done, but it^s all experience and I^ve got to take the positives out of it.

"I^m off and running and hopefully I^m taking the right strides to where I want to be and that I can get my first win this week."

Two-time World Champion Lewis has lost to Whitlock, Taylor and Wade in his opening three games, but after changing his darts recently believes he will regain top form to kick-start his challenge.

"I^m putting the hard work in but a lot of my darts are going on the wire and it^s just not happening for me," admitted Lewis.

"It^s a bit of confidence really and it^s frustrating for me at the minute because I^m practising well and I^m expecting my best darts to come out.

"I can^t be disheartened and I^ve got to get on with it. Everybody expects a lot of me, which is understandable, and even though I won the [2012] World Championship I^ve had a poor 18 months."

The night in Exeter also features the all-Scottish clash between UK Open champion Thornton and 2009 Premier League champion Gary Anderson - who is now based in Somerset.

"I only live a few miles away so it^s a nice short journey for me for a change and hopefully I^ll have plenty of local support!" said Anderson.

"It^s exciting to play Robert because he^s doing alright so far, it^s his first year in the Premier League and he^s enjoying it. We played together in the World Cup last month but we^ll be beating each other up on stage in Exeter."

Thornton defeated Anderson on his way to winning the UK Open last summer, and their clash will be the first all-Scottish contest in the nine-year history of the Premier League.

"It^s absolutely brilliant for Scottish darts," said Thornton. "There^s not too many Scottish players in the PDC and hopefully watching this will make others join and hopefully we can have a few more.

"Since we joined the PDC, Gary and I have had some humdingers of matches. We wind each other up and spur each other on, and it^s a bit of friendly banter. We know at the end of the night we^ll be mates and it^s all in good fun."

Van Gerwen travels to Exeter followed up last Thursday^s defeat of van Barneveld - in which he hit two ten-dart legs - by winning both Speedy Services UK Open Qualifiers held last weekend, taking home £12,000 prize money from 16 successive victories in two days in Crawley.

He takes on last year^s Premier League semi-finalist Andy Hamilton, who picked up his second victory of the season a week ago and is determined to match van Gerwen both on and off the oche in Exeter.

"We^ve had so many great games in the past and it^s always very close, and I think it will be pretty close again," said Hamilton. "I think with Michael and myself it will come down to whoever roars the loudest!

"It^s about having the biggest stage presence this week and I^m looking forward to it - I can^t wait."

The night^s other game will see five-time World Champion van Barneveld take on 2012 Premier League finalist Whitlock in front of a capacity 4,000 crowd at the Westpoint Arena. Coverage will be live on Sky Sports HD1 from 7pm.

McCoy^s Premier League Darts
Week Four
February 28 - Westpoint Arena, Exeter

Robert Thornton v Gary Anderson
Andy Hamilton v Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Phil Taylor
Wes Newton v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v Simon Whitlock
All games the best of 12 legs

Coral Match Odds - Week Four
Robert Thornton v Gary Anderson
7/5 - Robert Thornton
10/3 - Draw
13/10 - Gary Anderson

Andy Hamilton v Michael van Gerwen
4/1 - Andy Hamilton
4/1 - Draw
4/9 - Michael van Gerwen

James Wade v Phil Taylor
5/1 - James Wade
9/2 - Draw
4/11 - Phil Taylor

Wes Newton v Adrian Lewis
13/8 - Michael van Gerwen
7/2 - Draw
11/10 - Raymond van Barneveld

Raymond van Barneveld v Simon Whitlock
11/10 - Raymond van Barneveld
7/2 - Draw
13/8 - Simon Whitlock
All odds courtesy of and correct at 3pm February 26.
Coral are the official betting partner of the McCoy^s Premier League Darts.

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