PHIL TAYLOR ensured that he would top the Holsten Premier League Darts table for a third successive year with an 8-3 win over Colin Lloyd. Taylor has now gone 12 games unbeaten in this year’s tournament – and 40 in the history of the Premier League – and holds an unassailable lead at the head of the table with two games remaining.

He confirmed his status in some style in front of a packed King George’s Hall in Blackburn, averaging almost 105 and hitting two ton-plus finishes. “I’m delighted because my first aim was always to finish top,” said Taylor, who faces Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld in his final two games. “My aim now is to be unbeaten going into the play-offs and win the title for a third time.”

Wins for Raymond van Barneveld and Terry Jenkins mean that they are now assured of play-off places and Lloyd, Adrian Lewis and Peter Manley cannot break into the top four. Mathematically, Roland Scholten could still catch Dennis Priestley, but would need the Yorkshireman to lose his last two matches heavily and to win his own games handsomely to overturn a leg difference of 19.

Scholten kept his hopes alive with an 8-4 win over Manley, while fellow Dutchman van Barneveld produced a sensational showing to defeat Dennis Priestley by the same scoreline. Van Barneveld – who turns 40 on Friday – joined Taylor in averaging over 104 and hit seven maximums, with both players having a chance of a nine-darter during a high-quality contest.

The night’s other game saw Terry Jenkins come from 4-2 down to win 8-5 against Adrian Lewis, winning five successive legs in the middle of the game to end the 22-year-old’s feint top four ambitions. The tournament reaches the penultimate night of the league phase next Thursday with the visit to Alexandra Palace in London, the new home of the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship.

Holsten Premier League Darts – Night 12, King George’s Hall, Blackburn

Terry Jenkins 8-5 Adrian Lewis
Peter Manley 4-8 Roland Scholten
Dennis Priestley 4-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Colin Lloyd 3-8 Phil Taylor

Night 13, Alexandra Palace – New Order of Play

Peter Manley v Dennis Priestley
Terry Jenkins v Colin Lloyd
Raymond van Barneveld v Roland Scholten
Adrian Lewis v Phil Taylor

TERRY JENKINS 8-5 ADRIAN LEWIS

TERRY JENKINS produced a superb second half to his clash with Adrian Lewis to end the youngster’s Holsten Premier League play-off hopes. Lewis had ignited his chances of reaching the top four with wins in the past two weeks, and looked on course to keep up the pressure on fourth-placed Jenkins by leading 4-2 at the break in their game.

However, Jenkins stormed back into the match after the interval with five successive legs, including two ton-plus finishes, to put a foot into the semi-finals. “It was a real pressure game for both of us, probably the hardest game I’ve ever played,” said Jenkins. “I needed to win to effectively get into the top four but I thought I’d thrown it away at the start.

“I hung in there and came back well after the break.” Jenkins took the first leg on double 18 after Lewis was off-target to break the throw, but the 22-year-old hit back in style. He won the next three, with Jenkins missing his doubles in two, to lead 3-1, but wasted two chances to take the fifth leg and further extend his advantage. A Jenkins 180, his first of the match, helped him to set up a double top finish in the sixth leg as he looked to level, but Lewis superbly took out 92 on double eight to take a 4-2 cushion into the break.

Lewis had another maximum in the first leg after the restart, but Jenkins took out a 12-darter, swiftly followed by finishes of 121 and 102 to hit the front. He then won the next two legs to make it five in a row and move 7-4 up, securing a minimum of a point and ending any chance Lewis had of overhauling him to reach the play-offs. Lewis continued to battle, hitting a sixth maximum of the game in winning leg 12 in 13 darts, but his missed dart at the bullseye in the next proved to be his last as Jenkins hit an 82 finish on double 12 for the match.

ROLAND SCHOLTEN 8-4 PETER MANLEY

ROLAND SCHOLTEN got back to winning ways in the Holsten Premier League Darts with an 8-4 win over Peter Manley at the King George’s Hall in Blackburn. The Dutchman has not been victorious since week seven in Blackpool, and repeated his Winter Gardens win over Manley with a methodical display. He hit back from a slow start which allowed Manley to win the first leg with ease to lead 3-1, landing two 13-darters and a brace of maximums along the way.

Manley won two of the next three either side of the break to pull back to 4-3, but Scholten stepped up a gear with three legs in a row – including a 117 finish – to put one foot over the winning line at 7-3. A superb 123 checkout, finishing on the bullseye, gave Manley leg 11, but Scholten hit five perfect darts to start the next leg and sealed the win comfortably on double six.

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 8-4 DENNIS PRIESTLEY

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD showed some brilliant form to defeat Dennis Priestley 8-4 and put himself back into second place in the Holsten Premier League Darts. The pair produced a sensational contest in Blackburn, both averaging over 100 and also coming close to hitting nine-darters in one amazing leg. They shared 11 maximums during the match, with seven coming from van Barneveld in the final nine legs after he failed to hit any in the opening three.

Priestley took the first leg before van Barneveld levelled in the next and then took out 116 against the throw – with the Yorkshireman sat on 40 – in the third. The fourth saw both open with back-to-back 180s to leave them looking at nine-dart finishes – although van Barneveld missed an eighth perfect dart at treble 19 and Priestley was then off target on dart seven.

The Dutchman left 32, which he finished in two darts for an 11-darter to move 3-1 up, before the next two were traded in 13 and 12 darts respectively to leave van Barneveld two legs up at the break. He came back out with a brace of brilliant 11-darters to go 6-2 up before Priestley hit two 180s in taking the next in 14 darts. Van Barneveld won the tenth leg in 14 darts, with Priestley sat on 24, to ensure at least a point before Priestley won leg 11 to stay in the hunt for a draw.

But the Dutchman landed yet another maximum among three ton-plus scores to wrap up the win and avenge his disappointing defeat to Priestley in Blackpool a month ago. “A month ago I couldn’t hit a treble against Dennis but I’ve been exercising, on the Atkins diet and I’ve invested in myself,” he said. “After I took the third leg I relaxed and hit trebles all the way. It would have been nice to hit the nine-darter but I’m just pleased to get the win.”

PHIL TAYLOR 8-3 COLIN LLOYD

PHIL TAYLOR ensured that he would top the Holsten Premier League Darts table for a third successive year with an 8-3 win over Colin Lloyd. Taylor has now gone 12 games unbeaten in this year’s tournament – and 40 in the history of the Premier League – and holds an unassailable lead at the head of the table with two games remaining. He confirmed his status in some style in front of a packed King George’s Hall in Blackburn, averaging almost 105 and hitting two ton-plus finishes.

Despite hitting two maximums in the first leg, Taylor actually went behind when Lloyd finished double top at the first time of asking for a 14-darter. He hit back with three successive legs, taking the third against the throw after Lloyd missed three darts at a double before finishing on 126 – the night’s highest – in the fourth. Another 14-darter from Lloyd gave him the fifth leg, but a three-leg burst from Taylor, all 15-darters including further checkouts of 110 and 96, put the 13-time World Champion in command at 6-2.

Lloyd landed the second of three maximums on his way to winning leg nine, but Taylor was not to be denied and swiftly took the next two in 13 and 14 darts to cap a remarkable display. “I’m delighted because my first aim was always to finish top,” said Taylor, who faces Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld in his final two games. “My aim now is to be unbeaten going into the play-offs and win the title for a third time. “There was pressure on Colin tonight because he had to win to give himself a chance of reaching the play-offs, so I knew I would have to perform well.”

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