Michael van Gerwen continued his pursuit of a second straight Premier League title after his 7-1 victory over Wes Newton, but he was kept off top spot for another week after Peter Wright's 7-3 victory over bottom-placed Simon Whitlock.
Elsewhere, Adrian Lewis built on his UK Open win with a victory over Gary Anderson, while Raymond van Barneveld missed a chance to keep heat on the top two as a plucky Robert Thornton fought him all the way to a 6-6 draw.
The evening's final match between Phil Taylor and Dave Chisnall saw eighth take on ninth, an affair that pushed both players to the limit, with Taylor edging his counterpart in a thrilling 7-5 victory.
|Peter Wright||7-3||Simon Whitlock|
|Adrian Lewis||7-5||Gary Anderson|
|Michael van Gerwen||7-1||Wes Newton|
|Raymond van Barneveld||6-6||Robert Thornton|
|Phil Taylor||7-5||Dave Chisnall|
|Michael van Gerwen||6||4||1||1||+16||9|
|Raymond van Barneveld||6||3||2||1||+8||7|
Sitting at the top of the table, you would have been forgiven thinking that it would have been a mere formality as Peter Wright took on bottom-placed Simon Whitlock.
Early signs certainly sang to that tune, as Wright sailed into a 4-0 lead over Whitlock. However, the 10th-placed star fought back to secure the next two legs, pulling the score back to a more respectable 4-2.
Whitlock then pulled off a marvellous 180 to wow the crowd in Nottingham. He looked set to take the sixth leg but for a shank in the arm, taking the chance away and presenting Wright with the chance to sail into a 5-2 lead, needing just two legs to take the match.
Wright's dominance showed as he took the eighth leg with ease, but a plucky Whitlock denied his opponent the chance to make it 6-3 and keep his hopes of a draw alive. But Wright held on and, despite a few wobbles and missed chances to take the tie; he finally secured his fourth win in five matches to extend his lead at the top of the table.
Sky Sports' Paul Higham captured the moment as stats showed how Wright had edged Whitlock on three-dart averages:
Adrian Lewis, who goes into the Week 6 fixtures on the back of his UK Open win, faced up against Gary Anderson who, sitting in fourth, could be leapfrogged by Lewis with defeat.
Speaking with The Sentinel, Lewis hoped to build on his UK Open victory as he prepared to take on Anderson and noted that he had received a massive boost after victory in Minehead:
Winning the UK Open is a massive boost for my confidence. I'd been a bit patchy in the early weeks of the Premier League, but I was under the weather and now I've got over a chest infection I'm getting back to my best.
Last weekend was a big step in the right direction for me. I'm trying to concentrate on what I'm doing and I want to keep my form going. I think at the moment I'm in the top two in the world and the game against Gary is another chance to show that.
Lewis' confidence told as the match got underway, taking the first leg before Anderson fought back to level the scores. From there, though, Lewis turned up the heat as he took three legs—hitting 180 before missing six darts at double 16—with Anderson missing bull in the third, which allowed Lewis to snatch victory to make it 4-1.
Anderson knew that he had to up his own game if he would have a chance to move closer to the top of the table, and the comeback looked on as he hit back with three leg wins of his own, with a 164 finish in the eighth leg to square up the scores at 4-4.
He then claimed the lead after a double 10 profited from Lewis' failure to land his 180. However, things were soon levelled up once again as Anderson squandered his chance to extend the lead, allowing Lewis to level, and then bag a double 16 to make it 6-5. He then signalled his intent to build on his mediocre start in the tournament to seal his third win and leapfrog Anderson—for the time being—in fourth.
Then it was the turn of Michael van Gerwen to take on Wes Newton. The Dutchman sailed into an early three-leg lead over Newton, as van Gerwen looked to keep pressure on table-topper Wright, and he took the fourth set to the delight of the Nottingham crowd.
The whitewash looked on as van Gerwen cut through the match like a knife through butter; he mauled Newton into a 5-0 lead and looked unplayable on the night. But Newton managed to snatch a leg of his own to make the match look—at least a little—more respectable.
The 24-year-old continued to show just why he's in contention for the 2014 title as he cruised to a 6-1 victory against a plucky Newton, and he finished with aplomb to complete victory and keep his place in the title hunt.
Raymond van Barneveld faced Robert Thornton in the penultimate match, with van Barneveld hoping for a big win that could help him to leapfrog second-placed van Gerwen.
Thornton, sitting just two places above the drop zone, also needed victory to ensure that his stay in the Premier League carries on. However, he succumbed to the first leg of the match as Barney took a 1-0 lead.
Yet it wasn't one-way traffic in this one as Thornton, who had recorded just one win in the tournament so far, gave a plucky display in the second leg to level the scores. He could do nothing but watch, though, as van Barneveld took the match up a notch by regaining his lead, sat at 2-1, before Thornton clawed his way back onto level terms with a 38 finish.
The Dutchman then regained his lead once again to take the fifth set. He found stern competition in Thornton, who refused to consider himself as defeated at any point throughout the opening six legs, as at 3-3, you could not tell who was sat at which end of the table.
Barney once again took the lead at 4-3, hitting 80 percent of his doubles during the match. This showed his class with the dart as the event continued to wind down, with the usually vocal crowd almost silenced, as the Scot continued to defy the standings.
A double 20 helped seal a 100 finish for Thornton in the eighth set as he continued to stake his claim on retaining his Premier League place—with a performance that could easily see him in title contention—knowing that even a narrow defeat could keep him well out of the drop zone.
Thornton continued to impress as he snatched his way into a 5-4 lead, piling the pressure back on van Barneveld as an upset looked on the cards. The Scot knew that two more legs would signal his second win of the tournament, and he had an excellent chance to make it 6-4, but he missed double 20 and handed the leg back to van Barneveld to level things up once again.
It was a gripping encounter, with Thornton hitting an impressive 180 to put him just a double 12 from regaining his lead, which he did in cool, calm and collected style. He made it 6-5 with just one leg away from a memorable upset.
Thornton wasted a glorious chance with double top to seal victory as van Barneveld hit double 19 to make it 6-6, and an equal share of the spoils dished out, with Live Darts tweeting of an excellent average finish from Barney to seal his point:
Taylor has been out of sorts in this year's Premier League, notching just one win from five before start of play in Nottingham. He limped his way into a 1-0 lead over Chisnall after missing a large number of darts, highlighting Taylor's poor recent run of luck.
Chisnall, who had lost two games before meeting Taylor, levelled things up in the second leg and looked to turn up the tempo as Taylor found his rhythm to maintain his 2-1 lead. He looked to overturn a poor display in league life so far, and soon after made his experience count as he took the fourth leg.
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His opponent wasn't finished there, though, as he clawed back the fifth leg to make it 3-2. But Taylor continued on his rampage as he looked more composed with the dart and made fewer errors. Despite his good work, though, Chisnall once again showed his lack of fear in Taylor's long-standing reputation, as he pulled the score back to within one leg.
The match was then levelled at 4-4 as Chisnall continued his fight back. Taylor took two bites of the cherry to seal double three to make it 5-4, and place him just two legs away from a morale-boosting victory.
Chisnall once again levelled the score at 5-5 and hit an impressive 180 in the ninth set to put him within double eight of taking the lead, but he fluffed his lines and opened the door for Taylor to take the leg—which he did, with aplomb, to move one leg from victory.
With chance to seal a point, Chisnall aimed his arrow but missed bullseye, with Taylor waiting in the wings to seal a 7-5 win.
Victory for Wright and van Gerwen set the pace for the top two. Both players steered clear from third-placed van Barneveld, while Taylor's victory will not only build confidence from his poor start to league life, but also jettison The Power one step closer to survival.