Price Explodes onto PL Scene Despite "Bombing" His Chances
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN made an impressive start to his Unibet Premier League title defence with a 7-2 defeat of Rob Cross. Van Gerwen was in dominant mood as he denied the World Champion a debut victory - and avenged his loss in the Alexandra Palace semi-finals a month ago - to begin his bid for a fourth Premier League title. The World No1 took out 114 in the opening leg, and finished 81 and a double ten to lead 3-0 before a 70 checkout gave Cross his first leg on the Premier League stage. But MVG finished a further two 114 checkouts in the next three legs as he moved 6-1 up, before replying to a 14-darter from Cross to close out the win on double eight. The Dutchman said: “It's a phenomenal start to the season for me. I’ve got a lot of confidence at the moment and I can build on this. “It doesn't matter how you win a game as long as you win, and this is a good two points for me. It wasn't my best performance but I did enough to win, and a 7-2 win over Rob Cross is a good start. “Everything was new for Rob and this is totally different to any other tournament, but there's a long way to go in the season yet.”
DARYL GURNEY admitted it felt like a defeat after blowing three missed match darts to beat Raymond van Barneveld. Superchin produced a fine performance to leave the five-times world champ RVB on the rack at a sell-out 9,000 3Arena. But Derry ace Gurney blew a 6-3 lead and three darts to win in it to let the big classy Dutchman come back to draw 6-6. Gurney admitted: “It feels like a loss. I played well and got 2-0 up, and to have darts to win the game and then draw was disappointing. “It could have been worse - I still got a point and it will stand me in good stead. I'm always learning against these top players. “When I had the darts for the match I thought the first dart was in at double 10, and I took half a step forward, and it unsettled me for the double fives. “The atmosphere was unbelievable, especially when I was on for the nine-darter. To feel that atmosphere I know what it felt like for Adrian Lewis and people like that who've hit one. “I played well but it's still a missed opportunity and right now it probably feels like a loss but there's not many people who play Raymond in the Premier League and get a draw so you've got take every point you can get. “I'm proud to be a part of the Premier League and hopefully I can move on to next week now and get a win.”
GARY ANDERSON’S back injury came back to haunt him again as he lost six successive legs in an opening night shocker. The Flying Scotsman was brought crashing down his protege Michael Smith 7-5 despite being on cruise control in the early stages. Ando roared into a comfortable 5-1 lead before his back injury once again played up and then Bully Boy took control to take the win. Anderson was left shaking head in dismay backstage and admitted: “My back is sore but Michael played great and showed true fighting spirit. I've obviously given him too many top tips.” He said: “I don’t even feel happy that I won knowing that Gary was struggling like he was. I was 5-1 down and he started missing his doubles and I could see he was struggling. “I couldn’t get going because I want Gaz to win but I wanted to win as well. I hate it when he loses but I hate it when I lose too.
SIMON WHITLOCK roared back into the Premier League with a fine 7-5 win over Mensur Suljovic. The Wizard of Oz admitted: “I want to say thanks to the selectors for putting me back in, I know what I can do. I’ve just proved why I’m here. “That was a tough game, Mensur’s a top class player. I don’t beat him very often but I have twice now in Dublin, it must be my place! “I just thought you are here for a reason, I’ve practiced hard and I’ve earnt this position and believed in myself again. “The crowd were amazing and I’m here where I belong again. It feels fantastic.”
By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia) Photography courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC