BARNEY DELIGHTS ROTTERDAM CROWD AS ANDERSON ENJOYS DUTCH DOUBLE
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD enjoyed a dream Premier League night at Rotterdam Ahoy on Wednesday as Peter Wright ended Michael van Gerwen's winning streak and Gary Anderson enjoyed a Dutch double.
The first of two sold-out Premier League nights at Rotterdam Ahoy saw Dutch legend Van Barneveld given another heroes' reception, and the five-time World Champion rose to the occasion.
Van Barneveld defeated Simon Whitlock 7-3, averaging 101.44 as he ended a four-match losing run in style, to the delight of the 9,000 -strong crowd.
He took the opening three legs without reply, including a 100 finish to break, and held off Whitlock's fightback before completing the win with an 11-dart leg to reignite his Play-Off hopes.
"I was emotional when I got on stage," admitted Van Barneveld. "This is what it's all about - to play in front of this crowd is such an honour.
"To be here and to do so well in front of a crowd like this is amazing and I'm so happy.
"I've been struggling for the last two or three weeks and I've lost four games on the spin, so tonight it was really important to have the win against Simon.
"I've got Michael van Gerwen now on Thursday and I can look forward to that. I still believe I can do it but I can't make any mistakes. If you dream, anything can happen."
There was disappointment for world number one Van Gerwen as he lost out 7-5 to Wright, suffering only his second defeat of the season as the Scot completed a Premier League double.
Wright raced into a 4-1 lead only to see the reigning Premier League champion hit back to level after ten legs.
The pair traded 180s as Wright regained the lead at 6-5, and when Van Gerwen was unable to take out 117 to claim a draw the Scot stepped in on double 12 to seal a famous win.
"It's special to play in this atmosphere and it makes you focus more and want to play your best darts," said Wright. "I always like playing Michael because he brings the best out of you.
"I knew I had a game on my hands because he's top of the league and the number one in the world, but it didn't matter what Michael did tonight, I knew I would win.
"I was just in that mood and when you feel like that the game is easy."
The night also proved memorable for two-time Premier League champion Anderson, who moved up to third place in the league table by defeating Michael Smith and Rob Cross.
Anderson had opened the night with an outstanding performance to defeat Smith 7-2, with his 110.83 average being the highest of the season.
The Scot broke immediately with a 68 finish and landed a 14-darter to double his lead, while back-to-back 12-darters took him into a 5-1 advantage.
Smith hit back in leg seven, but Anderson took out 70 to regain his edge before a 138 checkout sealed a fine win.
He later returned to see off Cross 7-3, despite the World Champion opening the contest with a 144 checkout and leading 2-1 after the pair traded 14-darters.
Checkouts of 120, 104 and 117 in successive legs put Anderson in command before he missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish in leg eight, before recovering to lead 6-2.
Cross hit back with a 6-3 finish, but Anderson completed a superb display of finishing on tops to seal his second win of the night.
"Coming here knowing I had three games in two nights I wanted to get six points, so to have four points so far is looking good," said Anderson, who plays Daryl Gurney on Thursday.
"It came good and the first game was great against Michael. He beat me on the first night and I couldn't let myself lose to him twice in a season!
"The 180s were banging in and the checkouts were good, and it was a lot better than the last time I played Michael.
"The finishing went well throughout the night tonight, it was absolutely great. It's been a while since I played two games in a night but this part of the season is where you've got to start digging deep."
Anderson added: "It would have been lovely to hit the nine-darter, and I thought the double 12 was going in. When I let go I thought it was perfect, but it just missed."
Cross had begun his double-header with a 7-4 win over Gurney, who produced a stirring fightback from 5-0 down but was unable to force a deciding leg.
The World Champion took out 107 and 119 in successive legs as he claimed the opening give without reply, only for Gurney to hit back with checkouts of 120 and 138 to pull back to 6-4.
Gurney, though, missed his chance in leg 11 to reduce the arrears to one, and Cross was on hand to secure the victory on double eight to avenge his Belfast loss to the World Grand Prix champion.
"The crowd was fantastic and I didn't realise how loud it would be, but it was an absolutely great experience," said Cross.
"The big checkouts helped at the start and I'm happy to have got the win against Daryl."
The Premier League's double-header in Rotterdam concludes on Thursday, where Dutch rivals Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld will clash.
Gurney takes on Anderson and Whitlock, with the Australian also up against Smith, while Wright meets Cross in a battle of the players ranked second and third in the world.
The Premier League at Rotterdam Ahoy will be broadcast live on Sky Sports from 7pm BST (8pm local time) on Thursday, and aired worldwide through the PDC's international broadcast partners and for PDCTV-HD Subscribers outside of the UK, Ireland & Netherlands.
In addition, the Premier League will feature radio commentary throughout the season on talkSPORT and talkSPORT2. For further details of coverage, please visit www.talksport.co.uk.
Pictures: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Night 11 - April 18
Michael Smith 2-7 Gary Anderson
Rob Cross 7-4 Daryl Gurney
Raymond van Barneveld 7-3 Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright 7-5 Michael van Gerwen
Rob Cross 3-7 Gary Anderson
Night 12 - April 19
Simon Whitlock v Michael Smith
Daryl Gurney v Gary Anderson
Rob Cross v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Daryl Gurney v Simon Whitlock
All games - best of 12 legs
League Table - Following Night 11