Title rivals Yorkshire and Lancashire both built up 12-6 overnight leads in their penultimate British Inter-Counties Championship Premier Division fixtures of the season today.
Defending champions Yorkshire are 12-6 ahead in their home clash with third place Cambridgeshire, while their nearest title challenges Lancashire lead by the same scoreline overnight in their trip to mid-table Nottinghamshire.
Yorkshire remain 30 points clear at the top heading into tomorrow’s final day of action this weekend, and they can still wrap up the title on Sunday if they pick up 10 more points overall than Lancashire.
Elsewhere, Lincolnshire are set to climb up the table as they hold an 11-7 lead overnight in their away fixture at fourth place Cheshire.
Seventh place Lincolnshire have provisionally climbed up one place into sixth spot, but they could move even higher if they can finish the job tomorrow.
Bottom side Essex and fifth place Warwickshire shared the points on offer today as they are level at 9-9 heading into tomorrow’s final day.
The two teams directly above Essex, Devon and Glamorgan, are also involved in a close contest, with hosts Devon narrowly 10-8 up on Glamorgan after the first day.
Lewis’ best performance of the day came in a stunning 6-5 victory over Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals, a game which saw an incredible 13 180s and another miss at double 12 for a nine darter – this time from van Gerwen.
The Stoke ace began the day with a narrow 6-5 win over Benito van de Pas, before beating Andy Hamilton and Justin Pipe to reach the last 16.
A 6-3 victory over Peter Jacques followed, before another last-leg success, this time over Richard North – who was enjoying one of his best runs on the PDC Pro Tour – put Lewis through to the semi-finals.
Chisnall’s run to the final – his first of 2017 – saw him narrowly edge past Ritchie Edhouse 6-5 in the opening round, before getting the better of Andy Jenkins and John Henderson to advance to the last 16.
There he defeated Mickey Mansell before whitewashing Mark Webster to reach the semi-finals.
A dominant 6-3 victory over Alan Norris meant Chisnall booked his place in his first final of the season, where he was beaten by Lewis.
It was another strong run for world number one van Gerwen on the floor, but his wait for a first Players Championship title in 2017 goes on, having now lost out in the semi-final stage on two occasions.
Norris’ good form continued, with the Players Championship 1 winner, who also made the last four at the Coral UK Open, reaching the semi-finals in Milton Keynes.
The PDC Pro Tour continues on Sunday, with another £75,000 prize fund up for grabs as Players Championship 6 gets underway at Arena MK.
Players Championship 5 Saturday April 1, Arena MK, Milton Keynes First Round
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Sven Groen
Vincent van der Voort 6-2 Haruki Muramatsu
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Jamie Caven
Simon Stevenson 6-1 Craig Gilchrist
Cristo Reyes 6-1 Darron Brown
Mick Todd 6-4 Martin Schindler
Steve Hine 6-1 Steve West
Aden Kirk 6-4 Ryan Palmer
Ian White 6-5 Ryan Searle
Matthew Dennant 6-1 Dennis Smith
Robbie Green 6-3 Richie Corner
Jamie Bain 6-4 Berry van Peer
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Kirk Shepherd
Rob Cross 6-2 Lee Bryant
Christian Kist 6-2 Paul Harvey
Scott Taylor 6-4 Jamie Lewis
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Richard North 6-3 Harry Robinson
Josh Payne 6-2 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Jimmy Hendriks 6-4 Mick McGowan
Shaun Griffiths 6-5 Michael Smith
Dimitri van den Bergh 6-4 Jonny Clayton
Kyle Anderson 6-5 Warrick Scheffer
Kevin Painter 6-5 Stephen Burton
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Benito van de Pas
Andy Hamilton 6-4 Terry Roach
Justin Pipe 6-2 Maik Langendorf
Joe Murnan 6-1 Ross Twell
Gary Anderson 6-1 Ray Campbell
Peter Hudson 6-4 Max Hopp
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Mark Barilli
Peter Jacques 6-1 Paul Nicholson
Peter Wright 6-1 Mike De Decker
Wayne Jones 6-3 Diogo Portela
Steve Lennon 6-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Terry Temple 6-1 Paul Rowley
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Simon Preston
John Bowles 6-2 Devon Petersen
Steve Beaton 6-2 Zoran Lerchbacher
John Part 6-4 Ricky Williams
Alan Norris 6-5 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Ronnie Baxter 6-5 Ted Evetts
Ronny Huybrechts 6-3 Chris Quantock
Adam Hunt 6-5 Darren Johnson
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Madars Razma
Yordi Meeuwisse 6-3 Tony Newell
Chris Dobey 6-3 James Richardson
Ricky Evans 6-2 Colin Roelofs
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Ritchie Edhouse
Andy Jenkins 6-1 Jim Brown
Darren Webster 6-2 William O’Connor
John Henderson 6-5 Jeffrey de Graaf
Richie Burnett 6-0 Jelle Klaasen
Keegan Brown 6-2 Ryan Meikle
James Wilson 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Mickey Mansell 6-1 David Pallett
Jan Dekker 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Jonathan Worsley 6-1 Brian Woods
Robert Thornton 6-4 Prakash Jiwa
Mark Webster 6-2 Robert Owen
Andrew Gilding 6-5 Joe Cullen
Vincent Kamphuis 6-5 Andy Boulton
Wes Newton 6-3 Mervyn King
Matt Clark 6-5 Antonio Alcinas
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Vincent van der Voort
Simon Stevenson 6-2 Brendan Dolan
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Mick Todd
Steve Hine 6-4 Aden Kirk
Ian White 6-2 Matthew Dennant
Jamie Bain 6-1 Robbie Green
Rob Cross 6-4 Kim Huybrechts
Scott Taylor 6-0 Christian Kist
Richard North 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Jimmy Hendriks 6-3 Josh Payne
Dimtiri van den Bergh 6-1 Shaun Griffiths
Kyle Anderson 6-5 Kevin Painter
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Andy Hamilton
Justin Pipe 6-3 Joe Murnan
Peter Hudson 6-3 Gary Anderson
Peter Jacques 6-3 Daryl Gurney
Peter Wright 6-1 Wayne Jones
Steve Lennon 6-3 Terry Temple
Stephen Bunting 6-1 John Bowles
Steve Beaton 6-0 John Part
Alan Norris 6-1 Ronnie Baxter
Adam Hunt 6-2 Ronny Huybrechts
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Yordi Meeuwisse
Ricky Evans 6-4 Chris Dobey
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Andy Jenkins
John Henderson 6-1 Darren Webster
Keegan Brown 6-5 Richie Burnett
Mickey Mansell 6-4 James Wilson
Jan Dekker 6-0 Jonathan Worsley
Mark Webster 6-1 Robert Thornton
Andrew Gilding 6-2 Vincent Kamphuis
Matt Clark 6-3 Wes Newton
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Simon Stevenson
Cristo Reyes 6-5 Steve Hine
Ian White 6-5 Jamie Bain
Rob Cross 6-2 Scott Taylor
Richard North 6-1 Jimmy Hendriks
Dimitri van den Bergh 6-4 Kyle Anderson
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Justin Pipe
Peter Jacques 6-5 Peter Hudson
Peter Wright 6-2 Steve Lennon
Steve Beaton 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Alan Norris 6-2 Adam Hunt
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Ricky Evans
Dave Chisnall 6-3 John Henderson
Mickey Mansell 6-2 Keegan Brown
Mark Webster 6-2 Jan Dekker
Matt Clark 6-1 Andrew Gilding
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Cristo Reyes
Ian White 6-3 Rob Cross
Richard North 6-4 Dimitri van den Bergh
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Peter Jacques
Steve Beaton 6-4 Peter Wright
Alan Norris 6-2 Gerwyn Price
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Mickey Mansell
Mark Webster 6-2 Matt Clark
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Ian White
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Richard North
Alan Norris 6-5 Steve Beaton
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Mark Webster
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Alan Norris
Former European Tour winner Mervyn King dropped just three legs in his victories over Andy Boulton and Mark Barilli, while another former European Tour champion, Robert Thornton, whitewashed Paul Rowley and then saw off former World Youth champion Keegan Brown to progress through the qualifier.
Justin Pipe, the 2012 Austrian Darts Open champion, edged out Richie Burnett and Warrick Scheffer to book his spot in Jena, while Ronnie Baxter battled past former European Tour winner Steve Beaton 6-5 in their decider to win through.
Former BDO world champion Mark Webster qualified at the expense of William O’Connor and Paul Nicholson, Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney got the better of Lee Bryant and James Richardson to move into the main event, but his fellow countryman Mickey Mansell was beaten by Australia’s Kyle Anderson in their decider.
The UK Qualifier kicked-off the PDC Pro Tour weekend at Arena MK in Milton Keynes, with Players Championship 5 and 6 being held at the venue on Saturday and Sunday.
Both events will be streamed live with coverage from two boards simultaneously for PDCTV-HD subscribers worldwide via http://www.livepdc.tv, as well as through a series of bookmakers’ websites.
HappyBet German Darts Masters UK Qualifier Friday March 31, Arena MK, Milton Keynes Preliminary Round
Darron Brown 6-2 Michael Barnard
James Richardson 6-3 Matthew Dennant
Brian Woods 6-4 Jim Brown
John Bowles 6-3 Peter Jacques
Mickey Mansell 6-2 Martin Lukeman
Jamie Bain 6-2 Andy Jenkins
Warrick Scheffer 6-5 Simon Preston
Terry Temple 6-5 Stephen Burton
Simon Stevenson 6-3 Ryan Searle
Peter Hudson 6-4 Paul Harvey
Andrew Gilding 6-5 Matt Clark
Darren Johnson 6-2 Adam Hunt
Steve Hine 6-5 Ritchie Edhouse
Jim Walker 6-3 Craig Gilchrist
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Ross Twell
John Part 6-1 Ray Campbell
Devon Petersen 6-5 Chris Quantock
Mick McGowan 6-2 Ricky Williams
Joe Murnan 6-2 Harry Robinson
Steve Beaton 6-1 Dennis Smith
Ronnie Baxter 6-1 Darron Brown
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Lee Bryant
James Richardson 6-2 Mick Todd
Tony Newell 6-2 Chris Dobey
Brian Woods 6-1 Ryan Palmer
Andy Hamilton 6-3 James Wilson
Robert Owen 6-3 John Bowles
Kyle Anderson 6-2 Steve Lennon
Mickey Mansell 6-3 Richard North
Mervyn King 6-2 Andy Boulton
Mark Barilli 6-5 Jamie Bain
Justin Pipe 6-5 Richie Burnett
Warrick Scheffer 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Robbie Green 6-4 Ryan Meikle
Jonathan Worsley 6-2 Terry Temple
Robert Thornton 6-0 Paul Rowley
Keegan Brown 6-1 Simon Stevenson
Darren Webster 6-0 Wes Newton
Ted Evetts 6-3 Peter Hudson
Josh Payne 6-2 Callum Loose
Andrew Gilding 6-3 David Pallett
Raymond van Barneveld 6-1 Luke Woodhouse
Darren Johnson 6-3 Aden Kirk
Jamie Lewis 6-4 Jamie Caven
Rob Cross 6-4 Steve Hine
John Henderson 6-2 Terry Roach
Ricky Evans 6-1 Jim Walker
Mark Webster 6-3 William O’Connor
Paul Nicholson 6-4 Wayne Jones
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Adrian Grey
Scott Taylor 6-2 John Part
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Kirk Shepherd
Devon Peterson 6-3 John Norman Jnr
Richie Corner 6-5 Kevin Painter
Joe Murnan 6-1 Mick McGowan
Ronnie Baxter 6-5 Steve Beaton
Daryl Gurney 6-2 James Richardson
Brian Woods 6-5 Tony Newell
Robert Owen 6-5 Andy Hamilton
Kyle Anderson 6-1 Mickey Mansell
Mervyn King 6-1 Mark Barilli
Justin Pipe 6-3 Warrick Scheffer
Robbie Green 6-1 Jonathan Worsley
Robert Thornton 6-4 Keegan Brown
Ted Evetts 6-4 Darren Webster
Andrew Gilding 6-2 Josh Payne
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Darren Johnson
Jamie Lewis 6-3 Rob Cross
Ricky Evans 6-5 John Henderson
Mark Webster 6-3 Paul Nicholson
Adrian Lewis 6-1 Scott Taylor
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Devon Peterson
Joe Murnan 6-1 Richie Corner
Raymond van Barneveld chalked up his fourth consecutive win in the Betway Premier League as he swept past James Wade 7-2 in Cardiff last night, where Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor also picked up victories.
Van Barneveld, the 2014 Premier League champion, has climbed into the top four with his recent run of form, beating the world’s top two players van Gerwen and Anderson, and he continued that with a ruthless display against Wade.
The Dutchman limited Wade to just one dart at a double as he won the opening five legs without reply, before the 2009 Premier League champion finished 36 and 70 to take two of the next three.
However, van Barneveld, who had claimed his sixth leg with an excellent 12-darter, took the ninth on double seven to secure another two points in his bid to secure a spot in the play-offs.
“That’s four wins on the trot so I’m very happy,” said van Barneveld. “It’s so tight in the league table so I had to focus and you have to play well against everyone.
“James didn’t play as well as he could and I was surprised at that but I’m happy with the win.”
Reigning Premier League champion van Gerwen moved back to the top of the table with an impressive 7-1 win over Dave Chisnall, averaging 104.25 and hitting 50 per cent of his darts at a double.
The world number one had lost his first game of the season last week against van Barneveld, but returned to winning ways as he defied five 180s from Chisnall with a dominant display.
“I had to play well tonight and I’m happy that I did,” said van Gerwen. “The pressure was on me because I want to be back on top of the table where I belong and where I’ve worked hard for.
“When you lose a game, like last week, you’re upset but tonight I enjoyed it again. I’m a happy man and I’m already looking forward to next week.”
Two-time Premier League winner Anderson fired in finishes of 143 and 170 in a superb 7-3 win over Adrian Lewis, averaging 107 as he came from 2-1 down to clinch his third win in four games.
“I didn’t think the performance was as good as the average, but I’ll take it!” said Anderson. “There was some good scores and some bad scores – the 170 felt like it came from nowhere and I took out the 143 too.
“We all want to get into the play-offs. When the tournament starts you don’t want to be in the bottom two, and once you get past tonight it’s a fight for the top four and everyone’s trying for it.”
Six-time Premier League champion Taylor also had to come from behind before he saw off Jelle Klaasen 7-5 in a deciding leg.
Klaasen – who had been eliminated before his ninth league match – raced into an early 4-1 lead, before Taylor, aided by an 11-darter, turned the match around to claim his second win on the spin.
“It’s another two points for me and they could all prove crucial at the end of the season,” said Taylor. “It could prove the difference for getting into the play-offs – if I’d lost I think I’d have struggled to qualify.
“I think Jelle’s injury affected him, at the beginning he was fairing well but during the game he was struggling and he wasn’t the same player. Fair play to him, it must be very frustrating but he’s battled on.”
The night had seen just eight players in action, with Kim Huybrechts – who had already been eliminated – absent to remain in Belgium with his terminally ill mother, meaning that Peter Wright was awarded a 7-0 victory in his intended opponent’s absence.
“All our thoughts are with Kim and his family,” said Wright, who made an appearance on stage in front of the sell-out Cardiff crowd before the event and signed autographs for the fans.
“You have a fantastic crowd in Cardiff, the atmosphere is amazing and I’m gutted that I’m not playing. I was looking forward to trying to win tonight but unfortunately I’ve got to get back on the practice board.”
The Premier League continues with the visit to Dublin’s 3Arena next Thursday, as the second phase of the season begins with five games.
Betway Premier League Night Nine – Thursday March 30 Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Phil Taylor 7-5 Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson 7-3 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 7-2 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 7-1 Dave Chisnall
NB: Peter Wright awarded 7-0 win following Kim Huybrechts’ withdrawal.