Michael Smith's unbeaten start to Premier League comes to an end as Michael van Gerwen moves top
7 March 2018, 19:45
There were fireworks as the Premier League hit Leeds with Rob Cross ending Michael Smith's unbeaten run while Michael van Gerwen moved ominously top.
Smith suffered his first defeat of the campaign against world champion Cross as the Premier League returned to action at the First Direct Arena following last week's postponement in Exeter.
Van Gerwen was out of sorts, but produced enough quality to see off Simon Whitlock, and move unerringly into second position. New UK Open champion Gary Anderson was forced to dig deep to hold Daryl Gurney to a thrilling draw.
Raymond van Barneveld was back to his vintage best against Gerwyn Price as three outstanding ton-plus finishes saw him home, while Mensur Suljovic produced a sizzling display of arrows to crush Peter Wright for back-to-back wins after opening with three straight losses.
Rob Cross 7-5 Michael Smith
Former World Youth Champion Smith won his first four games and was bidding to continue that run against high-flying Cross.
But Cross, who claimed a narrow win over Smith on his way to World Championship glory at Alexandra Palace and kick-started his debut Premier League season with victories in Newcastle and Berlin, won the final four legs to defeat Smith in Yorkshire.
Bully Boy punished his opponent after landing tops for a break of throw in the fifth leg before backing it up with his third straight leg. But Cross stayed cool to break for 5-5 before holding and then nailing a magnificent 121 to inflict a first defeat for Smith.
Michael van Gerwen 7-4 Simon Whitlock
Van Gerwen was a first-game casualty against Jeffrey De Zwaan at the UK Open at the weekend and was aiming to get back to winning ways at the First Direct Arena, but the Dutch ace quickly fell 2-0 down.
The world No 1 wasn't his usual self on the oche, and fired himself up with a quality 110 checkout to make it 3-3, before finding double four with his fifth dart at a double for a 5-4 advantage.
Mighty Mike made a crucial breakthrough in the next leg and when Whitlock missed tops for a share of the spoils, the reigning champion took out 25 in two darts to wrap up the match with a 100.17 three-dart average.
Gary Anderson 6-6 Daryl Gurney
Anderson was unable to maintain his momentum after winning the UK Open on Sunday night, with the two-time Premier League champion scrambling to a draw against winless Gurney.
Super Chin showed plenty of resolve to claw his way back from 3-1 down to lead 4-3 thanks to a calculated 110 checkout and secured a point with double four.
The Northern Irishman missed a costly two match darts to allow The Flying Scotsman in for double 17 to rescue a valuable draw in a nip-and-tuck battle.
Gerwyn Price 5-7 Raymond van Barneveld
Van Barneveld admitted he struggled to see at the UK Open last Friday, blaming his diabetes for the shock defeat to journeyman Mervin King, and the body language of the 2014 Premier League champion didn't look great against the Welshman.
Price held throw in the seventh leg before producing a 12-dart leg to break the Dutch great for a 5-3 lead. But Barney answered the break of throw with a vintage 121 finish before taking out a clinical 80 to level proceedings.
The five-time world champion earned the adulation of the Leeds crowd with a stunning 101 to break throw, and wrapped up the match with a picture book 89 checkout on the bullseye.
Peter Wright 1-7 Mensur Suljovic
World No 2 Wright took the opening leg against Suljovic before the Champions League of Darts winner stepped on the gas to win the next seven on the spin with a ruthless display.
The Austrian star produced a high-quality performance with a cool 103.01 three-dart average and 54 per cent on doubles, while the Scot was well below par following a bad weekend at the UK open where he was dumped out by 18-year-old Nathan Rafferty.
"The Premier League is a brilliant tournament and I'm here and ready for it," said Suljovic.
The 2018 Premier League heads to the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham next Thursday with coverage underway from 7pm on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Main Event. Ten weeks of tungsten action will then continue through to the season's conclusion with the Play-Offs on May 17 at The O2 in London.
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