Exeter played host to Week 5 of the Premier League Darts season on Thursday evening, with the biggest names of the brand once again coming together in the hopes of moving closer to this year's title.
The field was reduced to just nine players after it was announced that Wes Newton had to pull out of the event through injury, with the Professional Darts Corporation's official website explaining that Robert Thornton would instead play twice in his absence:
Newton has been struck down by the viral infection this week and has failed to recover in time for the fifth week of the Betway Premier League Darts season, and will now miss out on his clash with Simon Whitlock.
Scottish ace Robert Thornton will now double up in Exeter, opening the night with his planned clash against Peter Wright before taking on Whitlock in the final contest of the evening.
Newton will then play Whitlock in Dublin on March 27 as he doubles up following a game against Gary Anderson at The O2 in Week Eight.
That being said, the remaining list of stars made sure that Newton wasn't missed for too long, with a breakdown of the Exeter extravaganza given ahead. Let's begin with the results.
|Player 1||Score||Player 2|
|Peter Wright||6-6||Robert Thornton|
|Raymond van Barneveld||6-6||Dave Chisnall|
|Adrian Lewis||6-6||Michael van Gerwen|
|Phil Taylor||5-7||Gary Anderson|
|Simon Whitlock||7-5||Robert Thornton|
Each match has had an effect on the overall league table, which can be seen below.
|2.||Michael van Gerwen||5||3||1||1||+10||7|
|3.||Raymond van Barneveld||5||3||1||1||+8||7|
Peter Wright 6-6 Robert Thornton
The first of Robert Thornton's two matches on Thursday evening went as smoothly as "The Thorn" could have hoped, considering it was the current league leader lining up opposite.
Having initially gone 3-1 up in legs, but a flurry of ton-plus finishes saw Peter Wright rally, managing to find a 5-4 lead at one stage in the bout.
As Live Darts attest on Twitter, this was a back-and-forth affair between two of Scotland's biggest names that didn't leave much to be desired:
Raymond van Barneveld 6-6 Dave Chisnall
Having won back-to-back Premier League outings, Raymond van Barneveld met Dave Chisnall in good form this week, a clash between two players with completely different table prospects on their minds right now.
However, the pair cancelled each another out in Exeter, and the close parameters of the encounter were evident in the fact that no player ever led by more than one leg.
In the end, "Barney" and "Chizzy" were left to share the spoils, with neither player's point having a huge impact on the standings given the other draws taking place on the night.
Adrian Lewis 6-6 Michael van Gerwen
The blockbuster matchup of Exeter's card, Adrian Lewis and Michael van Gerwen's meeting made for a mouth-watering collision, but a third consecutive 6-6 draw ensured that bragging rights wouldn't be handed out on Thursday.
Despite the heated nature of their meeting, The Guardian's Daniel Harris shows just what a good camaraderie the rivals have for one another:
Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis draw in the battle of the ideal sons-in-law pic.twitter.com/XG3wolqQcK— Daniel Harris (@DanielHarris) March 6, 2014
Lewis did well to come back into the match from 6-3 down, with Van Gerwen quoted by Sky Sports (h/t ESPN) as saying after the match:
He did very well. I had a point from 6-3 and then I was struggling to finish, he came back very well. We like to play each other, we both have a fast game. Most of the people like to watch that. We didn't turn up, both of us, but we're still in the race for the play-offs.
Phil Taylor 5-7 Gary Anderson
The Scots maintained their unbeaten evening when Gary Anderson managed to hand Phil Taylor a fourth defeat in five Premier League matches. "The Power" remains planted just above Simon Whitlock in the standings.
Given the three draws that preceded this match, it could have been the ideal scenario for Taylor to take advantage and ease this campaign's woes, but a profligacy was apparent in his play throughout, with multiple doubles missed in what seemed like easy conditions for the veteran.
PDC Darts World show statistics of the encounter, with Taylor's checkout percentage telling the story of his night:
Simon Whitlock 7-5 Robert Thornton
Despite having had the advantage of a warm-up match earlier in the evening, Robert Thornton was unable to make it count against Simon Whitlock, who claimed a first win of the Premier League season in Exeter.
The Australian triumphed 7-5 after yet another tight fixture that had the look of a fourth 6-6 draw written across it, only for Whitlock to edge ahead at the death, winning four successive legs after finding himself 5-4 down at one point.
Both players were in fine form during a matchup that was far from shy of ton-plus scores, but Whitlock's high finish of 150 ultimately told against Thornton's less impressive 86.
Whitlock isn't able to move off the bottom of the table just yet, but some more performances of this caliber may yet see Taylor take up a shock spot in the basement slot.