McCoy^s Premier League Darts - Night One Round-Up
TAYLOR & VAN GERWEN DRAW IN THRILLING McCOY^S PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS OPENER
PHIL TAYLOR and Michael van Gerwen shared a thrilling draw as the McCoy^s Premier League Darts season began at Belfast^s Odyssey Arena on Thursday, with Raymond van Barneveld, Simon Whitlock, James Wade and Robert Thornton picking up opening-night victories.
Taylor and van Gerwen^s rematch of January^s World Championship final lived up to the billing in front of a sell-out 8,000 crowd, with both players setting up possible nine-darters during the contest.
Van Gerwen, on his Premier League Darts debut, led 3-1 and 6-4 but paid for missing five match darts in the 11th leg as Taylor kept his hopes alive with double 16 before finishing 104 in the game^s deciding leg.
"It was a tough game and it ended up being a great scrap," said Taylor, the reigning Premier League Darts champion. "A draw was probably a fair result in the end.
"I^m happy to get a point on the board but I missed a few doubles at the start and let Michael in and he let me off the hook a bit later on.
"The league^s not won in the first four or five weeks and we^ll all start to settle down - even I was a little bit nervous tonight and I^m not usually like that!"
Taylor had earlier opened the contest with back-to back 180s, and landed two more maximums in the fifth leg before a key bullseye finish, for an 89 checkout, levelled at three all.
The Dutch ace, though, took three of the next four to earn a point before Taylor hit back to secure a draw.
"I probably should have got both points but I missed five darts to win it," said van Gerwen. "It hurts when you give a point away, but that happens sometimes and I^ve got another game next week which I^ll prepare for now.
"I think I did well for my first Premier League game and I enjoyed it very much. It was an amazing experience and it felt great - I could even have got a nine-darter tonight, the feeling was there but maybe I wasn^t quite concentrated enough on the 141 finish because of the excitement of the night."
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld made a fine start as he averaged 102 in a 7-4 victory over Gary Anderson, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before the Dutchman took command by winning five straight legs to set up the win.
"I^m very pleased with that," said van Barneveld. "My scoring was great but I have to sharpen up on my finishing,
"Other players may have punished me tonight so I know I^ll have some work to do on the practice board, but I believe in myself and I know I can win this tournament.
"The crowd were great and I^m looking forward to Aberdeen next week too because I always get a good reception in Scotland too."
Simon Whitlock took out finishes of 121 and 108 as he overcame Adrian Lewis 7-3 in the battle of the Premier League^s last two beaten finalists to punish some wayward finishing from the world number two.
"I was hoping to get off with a win tonight and I^ve managed to do that, so I^m happy," said Whitlock. "The performance probably could have been better, but I hit the doubles at the right time, and a couple of key big finishes, and got the win.
"It^s important to get off with a win because nobody wants to be in the relegation places so I^m really happy."
Lewis was left frustrated with his performance, which was typified when he hit a 180 to leave 60 in one leg only to burst his score by hitting the treble 20 - instead of a single 20 to leave tops - when he returned, and he missed 14 darts at a double in the contest.
"I^m very disappointed," said the two-time World Champion. "I missed too many doubles and that^s what cost me the match.
"When I hit the treble 20 and burst my score it summed up my night. I had Simon and let him off the hook, and it^s frustrating - but I^ll get back on the practice board and work hard to get ready for Aberdeen next week."
Debutant Robert Thornton survived Andy Hamilton^s fightback from 5-1 down as he edged out the 2012 semi-finalist 7-5.
Thornton took out finishes of 104 and 117 in winning five straight legs before Hamilton, aided by a brace of 80 checkouts, hit back to level.
The UK Open champion, though, won a crucial 11th leg by hitting a 180 and a 120 finish before sealing victory with a fifth 180 in a 12-dart finish.
"Andy has the experience of playing in the Premier League last year and he^s one of the toughest opponents in the event, so I^m delighted to get the win," said Thornton.
"He^s a street fighter and, like me, he^ll never give in so I knew when he started fighting back what could happen. When it went to five-all I just wanted to hold my throw, so to take both points was great.
"It^s a good start and the adrenaline rush when I got on stage was unbelievable - it^s an amazing atmosphere."
Hamilton, who reached the semi-finals in his debut Premier League season 12 months ago, admitted: "I missed too many doubles early on and that^s what lost me the game in the end.
"Robert played the better darts and deserved to win, but the league season^s a marathon, not a sprint and this wasn^t my night."
2009 champion James Wade capitalised on missed doubles from another debutant, Wes Newton, as he took a 7-4 victory from their opening clash.
Wade took command by moving from two-all to lead 5-2 before retaining his advantage to take the points.
"Getting the two points was the main thing, event if I didn^t play as well as I^d wanted to," said Wade. "I^ve been practising hard, I^ve got the hunger and I believe in myself.
"Obviously the practise has paid off because I got the win, and I hit the right shots at the right time."
Newton, last year^s European Championship finalist who was playing in front of the biggest crowd of his career, admitted: "It was an awesome experience and brilliant to be on stage in that atmosphere, but it would have been better if I^d won!
"I was a bit nervous, and maybe that showed in my finishing because I missed a lot of doubles.
"I was a bit rusty on my finishing and that cost me the game, but I^ll be back."
The McCoy^s Premier League Darts will continue next Thursday with the second of 14 league nights being held at the AECC in Aberdeen.
McCoy^s Premier League Darts
Night One - Thursday February 7
Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Andy Hamilton 5-7 Robert Thornton
James Wade 7-4 Wes Newton
Raymond van Barneveld 7-4 Gary Anderson
Simon Whitlock 7-3 Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor 6-6 Michael van Gerwen
Andy Hamilton v Robert Thornton
Andy Hamilton will throw first
1-0 - Hamilton hits a 180 with only his second visit to the board, and lands double eight to win the opening leg.
1-1 - Thornton finishes 60 on tops to win his first leg of the season.
1-2 - The Scot takes out 104 to break throw and move ahead.
1-3 - Thornton opens with a 180 and lands tops for a third successive leg as he pushes two clear.
1-4 - Hamilton lands a 180 and adds a 140 to leave 40 after 12 darts, but misses double top, ten and five to allow Thornton to finish 117 on tops to win a fourth straight leg.
1-5 - Thornton posts a second maximum of the game, but initially misses four darts to win the leg - only for Hamilton to miss double 16 for a 99 finish to allow him back to finish double one.
2-5 - The pair trade 180s before Hamilton wins his second leg of the game by finishing 80 on double ten.
3-5 - Hamilton hits his fourth maximum of the game and then takes out 80 once again, this time on tops, as he hits back to within two legs.
4-5 - The 2012 semi-finalist cuts the gap to one leg by finishing double 16.
5-5 - Hamilton misses double 16, but when Thornton misses two darts at tops to finish 90 - having hit the bed four times in a row earlier in the night - the Stoke ace returns to post double 16 with his third dart to level the game.
5-6 - Thornton posts his fourth maximum and takes out 120 to secure at least a point.
5-7 - Thornton opens with 180 and 140 to take command, and posts tops for a 13-darter to seal the victory.
James Wade v Wes Newton
James Wade will throw first
1-0 - Wade finishes 68 to win the game^s opening leg.
1-1 - Newton finishes double 16 to win his first leg in the McCoy^s Premier League Darts.
2-1 - Wade moves back ahead by finishing double ten.
2-2 - Newton wins the fourth leg to square the game.
3-2 - Wade misses the bull for a 167 finish and two further darts for the leg, but a missed double top from the debutant allows Wade to move back ahead on double five.
4-2 - Newton powers his second maximum of the game, but missed doubles cost him dear as Wade finishes double ten to break for the first time.
5-2 - Wade wins a third successive leg to push clear.
5-3 - Newton pins double 16 to hit back.
5-4 - Newton capitalises to break throw on double ten as he cuts the gap to one leg.
6-4 - Newton misses three darts to level, and Wade is let off from earlier missed doubles by posting double two to move ahead.
7-4 - Wade seals the win in style, hitting a 177 to leave 24 before hitting double12 for the match.
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld will throw first
0-1 - van Barneveld misses four darts at a double, and Anderson steps in on double 16 to win the opener against the throw.
0-2 - Both players hit 180s, and when van Barneveld misses the bull for a 126 finish the Scot finishes 80 on tops to double his lead.
1-2 - van Barneveld wins his first leg of the season by finishing 68.
1-3 - The Dutchman leaves 24, but Anderson takes out 106 on double 18 to regain his cushion.
2-3 - van Barneveld hits double 16 to hit back again.
3-3 - Anderson wires two darts at double ten, and van Barneveld finishes double four to level.
4-3 - Anderson hits a 180, but misses three darts to win the leg and van Barneveld hits double 16 to move ahead.
5-3 - van Barneveld posts a 180 and double eight to move two leg clear.
6-3 - van Barneveld finishes 68 to ensure at least a point from his opening fixture.
6-4 - van Barneveld lands his fourth maximum of the game, but misses double five for a 90 finish to take victory and Anderson posts double two to keep the game alive.
7-4 - Anderson misses tops to force a deciding leg, and van Barneveld lands double 16 for the win.
Simon Whitlock v Adrian Lewis
Simon Whitlock will throw first
1-0 - Whitlock finishes 89 on double five to win the opening leg.
1-1 - Lewis fires in a 180 as he levels.
2-1 - Lewis lands another maximum as he leaves 60 - only to hit a treble 20 to burst his score and allow Whitlock in to finish 108 to move ahead.
2-2 - Lewis misses two darts at double 18, but Whitlock is off-target on double 13 for a 146 finish to allow the two-time World Champion back in to hit the bed at the third time of asking.
3-2 - Lewis is unable to finish 120, and Whitlock takes out double 16 to regain the lead.
4-2 - Whitlock finishes 121 on the bull to break for the first time.
4-3 - Lewis breaks back by landing a 177 to leave 24 before hitting double 12 to win his third leg.
5-3 - Lewis hits a 180 to leave 57, but misses double top and ten to allow Whitlock in on double ten to regain a two-leg cushion.
6-3 - Lewis misses the bull to finish 94, and Whitlock lands a third-dart double top to secure a point.
7-3 - Lewis posts another 180, but misses six darts to keep his hopes alive Whitlock finishes double eight for the victory.
Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor will throw first
1-0 - Taylor opens the game with two 180s, and although he misses out on a nine-darter he returns to land double 12 for a 13-dart finish.
1-2 - van Gerwen posts 180, and when Taylor misses four doubles he steps in to break on tops.
1-3 - The young Dutchman punishes two more misses from Taylor to move two legs clear, recovering from his own double trouble to finish double one.
2-3 - Taylor lands two more maximums, and posts double 16 to hit back.
3-3 - van Gerwen hits a third 180 but misses double top, ten and five, and Taylor punishes him by landing the bull to complete an 89 checkout.
3-4 - van Gerwen lands a 180 and hits double four to move back ahead.
3-5 - The Dutchman posts another 180, his fourth, and finishes 41 to move two legs clear.
4-5 - Taylor finishes 70 on double 16 to pull himself back to just one leg behind.
4-6 - van Gerwen opens with a fifth maximum of the game and lands double 16 to ensure a minimum of a draw.
5-6 - van Gerwen opens two with more 180s to set up a possible nine-darter, and although he is unable to achieve that feat he is first to a finish - only to miss five match darts and allow Taylor in to hit double 16 to force a deciding leg.
6-6 - van Gerwen leaves 40 as he cannot finish 99, and Taylor takes out 104 to scramble a draw.