JAMES WADE and Phil Taylor sealed their places in the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-offs at the Wembley Arena on Thursday night.

Wade maintained his lead at the top of the league table with two weeks remaining with an 8-6 defeat of Peter Manley, taking the last three legs for victory after trailing for long periods in a tight tussle.

Taylor is also secure in the top four following a thrilling 8-3 victory over John Part, which saw him rattle up a record Premier League average of 111.74.

Both Wade and Taylor are guaranteed at least £40,000 after securing their place at the semi-finals in Cardiff next month, with Taylor – who had lost three of his opening four games – eyeing a fourth successive Premier League title and the £100,000 winner’s cheque.

“I’m very chuffed,” admitted Taylor. “I thought after four weeks I’d finish bottom so I’m delighted with how it’s gone since.

“An 8-3 win didn’t reflect the game, John played fantastically well and brought the best out of me.”

Taylor’s win also ended Canadian Part’s chances of finishing in the top four, with two weeks remaining of the league phase of the tournament.

World number one Raymond van Barneveld consolidated his third place with an 8-4 defeat of Adrian Lewis, hitting three bullseye finishes to pick up his first win in three weeks.

Wayne Mardle maintained his play-off push with a draw against Terry Jenkins, who needs to pick up wins in his final two games if he is to finish in the top four.

Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts
Night 12, Wembley Arena
Terry Jenkins 7-7 Wayne Mardle
James Wade 8-6 Peter Manley
Raymond van Barneveld 8-4 Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor 8-3 John Part

TERRY JENKINS 7-7 WAYNE MARDLE

TERRY JENKINS maintained his hopes of a Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-off place by drawing with Wayne Mardle at Wembley Arena.

Jenkins had gone six matches without a victory in the tournament and slipped to second bottom following his recent disappointing run – but reignited his challenge for a top four berth against Mardle.

He trailed 3-1 early in a scrappy contest before battling to lead 6-5 and then 7-6, only for Mardle to grab a point in the deciding leg.

Jenkins took the game’s opening leg, but three in a row from Mardle – including a break of throw – saw the Essex man move ahead.

Jenkins hit a maximum in taking the fifth, but Mardle responded to nine poor darts in the next with a 177 to set up a 40 finish and a 4-2 lead at the break.

Mardle paid for three missed doubles after the restart as Jenkins pulled back the next, but a showman 96 checkout of single 20, double 18 and double top saw him regain his range on the doubles.

Jenkins took three in a row, including a 116 finish, to move back ahead at 6-5, and ensured at least a point when double top sent him 7-6 up.

But Jenkins lost his touch in the decider, with Mardle pulling clear before hitting double 15 for the draw.

“It’s very close in the table and it will go right to the wire,” admitted Jenkins. “I was feeling the pressure and struggled to find my range but I’ve got two games left and it’s still wide open.”

Mardle conceded: “We both knew that a defeat would probably end our challenge and the pressure was massive.

“I’ve hit my doubles for the last six weeks but it was like watching a car crash! I needed both points but I’ll settle for one.”

JAMES WADE 8-6 PETER MANLEY

JAMES WADE sealed his place in the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-offs by coming from behind to win 8-6 against Peter Manley.

Table-topper Wade looked on course to suffer defeat when he trailed 6-5 to play-off chasing Manley at the Wembley Arena.

However, Wade held his nerve with three fine legs to claim his eighth win of the campaign and ensure a spot in May’s semi-finals.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Wade. “To be guaranteed in the play-offs already is fantastic for me.

“It wasn’t a great game but it means I’m guaranteed £40,000 and the pressure’s off me and hopefully I can perform well in the last two weeks.

“That sounds funny when I consider I’m top of the league, but I played badly and won this and I know I can be better.”

Wade started well to lead 2-0, only for Manley to win the next three and take the advantage.

Wade levelled going into the break but the nip and tuck continued to leave Manley 5-4 up.

A fine 101 checkout, with Manley on a finish, saw Wade level once more before his opponent landed a second 180 of the game in moving 6-5 up and within reach of a much-needed point.

He also hit a maximum in the next, but a pressure 64 saw Wade level and he hit double 12 to move 7-6 up and ensure at least a point.

But the decider saw him seal both with a clinical two-dart 78 checkout to keep him top of the table.

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 8-4 ADRIAN LEWIS

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD got his Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts challenge back on track with an 8-4 win over Adrian Lewis at the Wembley Arena.

The Dutchman had lost three of his last four matches and slipped to third in the table, but bounced back with some clinical finishing in London.

He punished missed doubles from Lewis throughout, taking a 5-0 lead and also hitting three bull finishes in taking both points.

“I’ve had some bad results but I got a few legs and my confidence came back,” said van Barneveld. “Maybe I was lucky with three bullseye finishes but I had to play my normal game and took my chances.”

Van Barneveld made a fine start to break Lewis’ throw in the first leg, and took advantage of misses from the youngster to go 3-0 up before a 109 checkout put him four legs to the good.

A Lewis maximum left him a finish, but three more misses allowed van Barneveld in for a 90 checkout on the bull.

Lewis landed double top to get off the mark before the break, and also took the next two to move within two legs of van Barneveld.

However, he wasted further doubles in the next as another bullseye, this time for an 89 finish, saw van Barneveld move 6-3 up.

Lewis stepped in on double ten to take leg ten, but a third bullseye from the Dutchman saw him move 7-4 up and double eight gave him both points.

Van Barneveld’s win took a further step towards securing his place in the play-offs, and revealed that a pep talk from PDC Chairman Barry Hearn helped lift his spirits.

“Barry told me I’m a world class player, reminded me I’m still the world number one and to start believing in myself,” said the Dutchman. “I started thinking more positively and the old Barney is coming back!”

PHIL TAYLOR 8-3 JOHN PART

PHIL TAYLOR ensured his Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-off place in style with a record average in an 8-3 win over John Part.

Taylor celebrated his appearance at the Wembley Arena with a stunning display, coming from 2-0 and 3-2 down to take six straight legs for the win.

Taylor sat second bottom in the table after losing three of his opening four games, but an eight-game unbeaten run has now seen him move to second from top and remain on course for a fourth successive Premier League title.

“I’m very chuffed,” admitted Taylor. “I thought after four weeks I’d finish bottom so I’m delighted with how it’s gone since.

“An 8-3 win didn’t reflect the game, John played fantastically well and brought the best out of me.”

Part started superbly, taking the opening two legs in 14 and 12 darts to leave Taylor reeling.

Taylor, predictably, roared back with a 139 finish for a 12-darter of his own before taking leg four in 14 darts to level.

Part edged the fifth, but back-to-back 11-darters from Taylor put him ahead for the first time in the contest.

He also took the next two to lead 6-3, with Part’s only dart at a double coming in a missed bullseye for a 124 finish.

Part also missed two darts at a double in the next as Taylor pushed clear at 7-3, and he sealed the win with an unintentional 32 checkout of two double eight shots.

Part’s average of almost 104 was his second ton-plus average in defeat to Taylor in this year’s Premier League, and he said: “It’s disappointing but Phil was superb.”

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