It is still all to play for in the closest ever finish to a Premier League season.
Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade will go head-to-head in Newcastle for a place in the PL semi-finals!
Barney snatched a dramatic draw against Gary Anderson, while Wade was well beaten 8-1 by Phil Taylor in week 13 in Birmingham.
So, both Unicorn men have 12 points going into next Thursday’s decider...Barney has to win, but a draw may yet be enough for Wade because of his superior leg difference.
It’s that close!
And throw fellow Team Unicorn stars Andy Hamilton and Kevin Painter into the mix and you can see why it is going to be a massive night in Newcastle next Thursday.
Painter and Hamilton both recorded brilliant wins over Adrian Lewis (8-3) and Simon Whitlock (8-4) respectively to stay in contention. Both now have 11 points and the Unicorn duo play each other in Newcastle, knowing the winner could be through to the semi-finals!
But despite his defeat, Whitlock became the second man after Taylor to clinch a play-off place.
So, Barney, Wade, Lewis, Painter and Hamilton are all in with a shout of the remaining two spots.
For Anderson though, the draw confirmed what we knew several weeks ago, that the defending PL Champion is out of contention, but in the last two weeks he will be satisfied that his game appears to be coming together again.
But the Dutchman deserved his draw and it could yet turn out to be a priceless point for him....he opened up with a 138 finish but then fell 1-3 behind! But back came Barney with four consecutive legs of his own, including a fabulous 170 finish.
Anderson broke back and went 6-5 ahead, only for Barneveld to do it again, this time taking out 120! The final two legs were shared and the Dutchman knows what he has to do!
Kevin Painter produced a sensational display to stay in the hunt, thrashing World Champion Adrian Lewis 8-3.
And in the process, he took his tally of ton plus finishes in the PL to 16 – the best out of the eight players.
“I like it that I kept being written off! Well, I am still in there fighting and it will be game on between me and ‘The Hammer’ that’s for sure!” he said.
Finishes of 100 and 106 put him 2-0 up and he led 4-2 at the break. Lewis just couldn’t get into the contest....in the third leg, Painter also hit six perfect darts courtesy of back-to-back 180s and in that mood, there was only going to be one winner.
Painter then nailed a magnificent 150 check-out to move 7-2 in front and although Lewis won a third leg, Painter hit D12 with his fourth match dart to complete his victory.
Well, if prizes were handed out for determination and fighting spirit, Andy Hamilton would win hands down - just as he did against Simon Whitlock.
Only one PL defeat in seven weeks for ‘The Hammer’ and he continues to have a hold over the Australian, who simply cannot beat the Unicorn man.
Believe it or not, the first seven legs were all won against the throw, but Hamilton’s finishing was terrific and Whitlock really struggled on his doubles....from 3-3, Hamilton won four consecutive legs and the damage was done.
He hit 8 doubles from just 11 attempts....brilliant finishing, as the Aussie could manage only four hits from 13 darts at doubles.
His impressive win included a 10 darter....140, 180, 165 and D8 and that one leg epitomises Hamilton’s performance in his debut season in the Premier League.
“I have done all I can,” Hamilton said. “It is just a pity for me that I couldn’t pick up more points in the first half of the Premier League season, but the last seven weeks I have played extremely well and if I can beat Kevin in Newcastle, you just never know. At least I have taken it to the last week and that was always my aim.”
Phil Taylor came close to more records as he trounced James Wade 8-1.
He was on course to break the World record for a TV average of 118.66 and his own Premier League record of 117.38, but in the end had to settle for 115.10 as he demolished ‘The Machine’.
At the break, Taylor was 6-0 in front and averaging 122, but Wade managed to avoid the whitewash as he hit D10 in the seventh leg.
It was a big blow for Wade, but at least he knows that a win over Barneveld in Newcastle will still see him qualify....it is going to be a thrilling finale.
Five men battling for two places.....
Birmingham week 13 results:
Simon Whitlock 4-8 Andy Hamilton
Gary Anderson 7-7 Raymond van Barneveld
Kevin Painter 8-3 Adrian Lewis
James Wade 1-8 Phil Taylor
Current PL table:
1 – Phil Taylor – 23pts - Q
2 – Simon Whitlock – 14pts - Q
3 – Adrian Lewis – 12pts (-6 leg diff)
4 – James Wade – 12 pts (-6 leg diff)
5 – Raymond van Barneveld (-11 leg diff)
6 – Kevin Painter – 11pts (-5 leg diff)
7 – Andy Hamilton – 11pts (-7 leg diff)
8 – Gary Anderson – 9pts
Newcastle PL schedule week 14:
Gary Anderson v Phil Taylor
Adrian Lewis v Simon Whitlock
Andy Hamilton v Kevin Painter
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
By STUART PYKE
Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC