We have another new nightly winner in this years’ Darts Premier League after Joe Cullen beat home favourite Michael van Gerwen in the final to win night seven in Rotterdam.
In an action-packed night in which all but four matches went the full 11 legs and all four losers had missed match darts.
And because five out of seven matches went the full length, the Dutch fans were treated to 74 legs of a possible maximum of 77 meaning they certainly got their money’s worth even if they didn’t see a win for their main man.
Showing exactly how quickly things can change in this new format, Cullen started the night on the bottom of the Premier League of Darts table, but following his win in Holland is now the occupier of the fourth and final play off spot, nudging out Gerwyn Price in the process.
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Cullen’s win also means that Michael Smith and James Wade are the only two remaining participants still that have not won a night, although Bully Boy has at least reached and lost a brace of finals.
Rocking It Up In Rotterdam
Joe Cullen went into last week’s event at the Ahoy Arena on the back of a five-match losing streak with his last points coming when he came second in Liverpool back in February.
Things didn’t look like they getting any better when he found himself 5-3 down in a bad-tempered quarter-final match against Gary Anderson.
The Rockstar survived four match darts, two of which were in the deciding leg, to eventually take the honours 6-3 over the previous week’s winner, who at the end of the match accused Cullen of cheating.
It’s thought that The Flying Scotsman was unhappy over a moment of alleged encroachment, but Cullen seemed surprised that there was even an issue.
The Bradford born Premier League debutant only averaged 92.82 in his opener against The Flying Scotsman and actually got away with an even lower average of 88.17 in his semi-final encounter with the league’s other Scottish star Peter Wright.
The UK Open champion chucked in four of the six 180s in his match against the world number one, who wasted a staggering 11 doubles out of 15 and was eventually sent packing in a 4-6 defeat to The Rockstar.
10,000 Sea Of Orange
Cullen then progressed to the final where he felt the full force of the 10,000 strong orange army of fans who were roaring for their home hero Michael Van Gerwen who lives nearby.
Van Gerwen had also been required to survive match darts in the deciding leg of his quarter-final with Michael Smith but raised his game considerably to produce a much better performance against Jonny Clayton in the last four to win 6-3 with a 103 average.
The final, like most matches of the night, went to a deciding leg where Cullen had the darts and found the form to fire in a 14 darter. The win powered by a brace of 180s to give the Rockstar his first Premier League night title of the season.
All of the quarter-finals had gone the full eleven legs and the other two saw Peter Wright – whose back is thought to be hurting him but doesn’t stop leaping about on stage after his walkout – overcome James Wade in the opener.
Elsewhere, the all Welsh affair between Jonny Clayton and Gerwyn Price also went all the way down to the wire, with The Ferret just about pipping The Iceman.
Michael van Gerwen vs James Wade
Top plays bottom in the night’s opener at the Utilita Arena, Birmingham as Michael van Gerwen takes on James Wade.
Mighty Mike boasts a 15-4 head to head score over The Machine and has also made the last three finals.
In terms of current form, van Gerwen has won eight matches from his last ten, while Wade has lost six matches from the last ten that he has played.
The new format has done James Wade no favours.
In a previous season, three wins in seven matches so far probably wouldn’t have seen him bottom of the table at this point, but nevertheless, he remains one of only two players still to win a night.
If Wade can bank a win, he, just as Joe Cullen found last week, could rocket up the table and things could look very different by the end of the night.
Also, relegation is not an issue this year as there is no Judgement Night.
He has made the final once, losing to Gerwyn Price on a night where the Welshman thundered in two nine darters, but The Machine still finds himself propping up the pack and we can’t see him getting the better of the Dutchman, who has two ranking titles this season on top of his two nightly Premier League triumphs, this week.
Joe Cullen vs Gerwyn Price
The second match of the night sees last week’s winner Joe Cullen step out against former world number one Gerwyn Price.
Question marks still remain about the condition of The Iceman’s hand and, after missing a week then banking minimum points a week later, he went out straight away last week when losing to his World Cup winning partner for Wales, Jonny Clayton.
He really needs to get going if he is to reclaim his playoff spot that was taken from him seven days ago, ironically by tonight’s opponent.
On paper this would like a good game for Price to revive his Premier League Darts hopes, but the match up between the pair is much closer than you might have thought, reading 6-5 in favour of The Rockstar.
And yet, Cullen has the lowest tournament average of 92.37 and is also the least clinical finisher in this year’s Premier League of Darts.
From his last ten, Price has only managed to win half, so form is in question as much as fitness, although the two are clearly linked.
He did, however, take down a Players Championship event in Germany on Saturday so perhaps things are looking up for The Iceman.
If both are better in Birmingham, then Price should win, at his best he can blast players off the oche.
But with the momentum Cullen, who proved you can play well below your best and still walk away victorious, is trying to build, and those fitness questions around The Iceman, we’re leaning toward The Rockstar this week.
Peter Wright vs Gary Anderson
The night’s third match is an all Scotland affair that sees Peter Wright throw off against Gary Anderson.
When it comes to the head to head between the two, Anderson is slightly in front 10-7, but Snakebite won the last time they met.
But Wright, like Price, is another player carrying an injury that could have a huge say in how things play out, especially given the quality of his opponent.
Wright has only won in half of his last ten games, while The Flying Scotsman has seven over that time, so neither is in great shape.
We would normally favour the world number one, but just as with The Iceman, injury is forcing us to look the other way.
Peter Wright is streaky at the best of times as proven by his averaging over 100 on seven occasions so far, but also hitting around the 80 mark another four times.
Worse still, three of those have come in his last four outings.
He sat out the weekend’s events in Germany in favour of a rest and will no doubt have new darts, but Anderson has been the better player of late, even if he doesn’t look like he’s enjoying it.
Jonny Clayton vs Michael Smith
The fourth and final match of the quarter-finals pits Jonny Clayton and Michael Smith against each other.
Bully Boy is one of just two players yet to win a Premier League night and faces a tough night against The Ferret.
This year’s Darts Premier League is proving very tough to call and this game definitely falls into that.
Reigning Premier League champ Clayton is third in the table and has four more points than Smith, but it’s the St Helens’ man who has looked the more dangerous in recent weeks and has won three of their last four matches.
After a poor start, the Bully Boy looks close to winning a night and has reached two of the last three finals.
In terms of the head to head between the pair, it reads 8-3 in Smith’s favour, but this could well be The Ferret’s night.
BET365 DARTS BETTING PRICES
With four matches on the docket on Thursday night, here are the Darts Premier League betting odds as provided by Bet365.
Michael van Gerwen (1/3) Vs (12/5) James Wade
Joe Cullen (8/11) Vs (4/7) Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright (1/2) Vs (13/8) Gary Anderson
Jonny Clayton (8/11) Vs (11/10) Michael Smith
PREMIER LEAGUE OF DARTS WEEKLY WINNER NIGHT 8 BET365 DARTS BETTING ODDS
Michael van Gerwen – 11/4
Gerwyn Price – 7/2
Peter Wright – 7/2
Jonny Clayton – 11/2
Michael Smith – 8/1
Joe Cullen – 11/1
Gary Anderson – 14/1
James Wade – 22/1
PREMIER LEAGUE OF DARTS OUTRIGHT WINNER BET365 DARTS BETTING ODDS
Michael van Gerwen – 12/5
Peter Wright – 7/2
Gerwyn Price – 4/1
Jonny Clayton – 11/2
Michael Smith – 17/2
Joe Cullen – 12/1
Gary Anderson – 14/1
James Wade – 22/1
PREMIER LEAGUE OF DARTS TABLE
|Player||Nights Won||Matches Won||Leg Difference||Points|
|Michael van Gerwen||2||8||+27||17|
*pulled out of Night Five with injury
QUICK GLANCE AT THE PREMIER LEAGUE OF DARTS WEEK 8
Venue: Utilita Arena, Birmingham
Format: Best of 11 legs (first to six)
Current Champion: Jonny Clayton
Where To Watch: Sky Sports Main Event HD & Sky Sports Action HD
When To Watch: 19:00 UK