Darts: Phil Taylor in tussle for top after thriller
PHIL Taylor is locked in a four-way tie at the top of the McCoy's Premier League table after being held to a thrilling draw by James Wade in the latest round of matches.
But while the Potteries ace slugged out a 6-6 tie with 2009 champion Wade, Michael van Gerwen, Robert Thornton and Raymond van Barneveld all recorded emphatic victories at Exeter's Westpoint Arena to join the Power on six points at the summit.
Both Taylor and Wade averaged more than 100 during a superb contest, with the Potteries great using a brand new set of darts, but showing all his old quality to establish a 6-4 cushion before the left-hander hit back to win the final two legs.
">"I fancied a change of darts and I got this set on Wednesday," revealed Taylor. "I like the darts, they feel good and they're nice, so with a bit of match practice in the next couple of weeks I'll improve, but I'm pleased with a draw against James.
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"He took out a couple of great finishes, especially the 80 at the end to get a draw, but I enjoyed the game and I'm loving every minute of the league."
But while Taylor is still well-placed to defend his Premier League title, his one-time protege Adrian Lewis slumped to a fourth-successive defeat.
The double world champion from Cross Heath is now two points adrift at the bottom of the table after losing 7-2 to Wes Newton.
But after recovering from a shaky start to close out his first Premier League victory, the Blackpool ace declared: "That's not the Adrian Lewis everyone knows, and I could see he was struggling.
"When Adrian pulled it back to 6-3 I was having flashbacks to when Robert Thornton grabbed a draw against me last week, so I'm pleased I managed to finish Adrian off."
Andy Hamilton's bid to win a third successive match was derailed by Dutch youngster van Gerwen, who powered to a 7-2 win over the Dresden-based ace.
Night Four results (Westpoint Arena, Exeter): Robert Thornton 7, Gary Anderson 2; Andy Hamilton 2, Michael van Gerwen 7; James Wade 6, Phil Taylor 6; Wes Newton 7, Adrian Lewis 3; Raymond van Barneveld 7, Simon Whitlock 3.
Andy Hamilton v Michael van Gerwen
1-0 – Hamilton makes a brilliant start with a maximum, and finishes 66 on double 18 to win the opener with throw.
1-1 – van Gerwen levels by finishing double ten, after Hamilton is unable to take out 139.
1-2 – van Gerwen breaks throw with double 16 for a 13-dart finish.
1-3 – van Gerwen hits a 180 as he wins a third successive leg.
1-4 – The Dutchman initially misses his chance, but Hamilton is off-target with three darts at double 16 and van Gerwen lands double four to break throw again.
2-4 – The pair trade 180s before Hamilton breaks back by finishing 100 on double ten.
2-5 – The youngster adds another maximum and posts double eight to move three legs clear.
2-6 – van Gerwen ensures he will remain unbeaten, hitting another 180 as he leaves 64 after nine darts before hitting tops to seal at least a draw.
2-7 – van Gerwen opens with his fith 180 of the game and lands double four to seal a brilliant win.
James Wade v Phil Taylor
1-0 – Wade hits double 16 to win the opening leg with throw in 15 darts.
1-1 – Taylor – using a different style of barrel on his darts – misses double 16 initially, but when Wade misses tops to complete a 99 combination, the reigning champion returns to hit double eight at the third time of asking to level.
2-1 – Wade posts a 180 and finishes 85 in two darts on tops to continue his strong start.
2-2 – Taylor finishes 67 in two darts to square the game once more.
2-3 – Wade is unable to finish 110, and Taylor posts double 16 to break throw for the first time.
2-4 – Taylor opens the leg with 140 and 180, and although he initially misses three darts on the wire of double top, he returns to hit the bed and move two legs clear.
3-4 – Wade hits a 180 and then finishes 72 to reduce the game to one leg.
3-5 – Taylor finishes 94 on double eight to regain his cushion.
4-5 – Taylor scores 177, 140 and 134 to leave 50 after nine darts, but misses two darts at double 16, and Wade punishes him by taking out 68 on tops.
4-6 – Taylor posts double top to ensure that he will remain unbeaten.
5-6 – Wade opens with 180 and 134, with Taylor replying with a maximum and a 140 but only able to watch on as the 2009 champion finishes tops for an 11-darter to force a deciding leg.
6-6 – Taylor is unable to take out 142 but leaves 40, only for Wade to pin tops for an 80 checkout to grab a draw.
Wes Newton v Adrian Lewis
0-1 – Newton hits a 180 but misses four darts at double 16, and Lewis returns to hit double ten.
1-1 – Newton misses three further darts at doubles, this time at tops, but returns to hit the bed and level.
2-1 – Newton takes out 71 on tops.
3-1 – Newton hits tops once more to break throw again and move two legs clear.
4-1 – Lewis lands a maximum in reply, but Newton is first to a finish and hits double top once again to continue his run.
4-2 – Lewis hits back by taking out a seemingly effortless 117 on tops.
5-2 – Newton ends a 60 combination on double five to move three legs clear once more.
6-2 – Newton lands his second maximum of the game, and although he misses the bull and two further darts at doubles, he returns to post double four to ensure at least a point on the night.
6-3 – Lewis initially misses double seven, but Newton is unable to land double 14 for the match and the world number two hits the bed with his next attempt to keep his hopes alive.
7-3 – Newton opens with a maximum and is first to a finish, and although he misses double eight for a 96 finish, he returns to hit the bed at the third time of asking to seal his first Premier League win.