REIGNING champion James Wade qualified for the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-offs and denied Ronnie Baxter a tilt at the title as the league phase of the tournament ended in Nottingham on Thursday.

Wade had lost his first three games, but his 8-5 victory over Terry Jenkins at the Trent FM Arena saw him jump into the top four.

The final league night saw five players contesting for the three remaining play-off berths alongside unbeaten Phil Taylor, with an 8-2 defeat for Ronnie Baxter against Raymond van Barneveld in the second game costing him a top-four finish.

Simon Whitlock’s brilliant 8-2 defeat of Mervyn King ensured he finishes second place, having hit eight from nine attempts at a double in the match, while King will take on Taylor at the Wembley Arena in the semi-finals next Sunday after finishing fourth in the table.

Taylor, who lost to King in last year’s semi-finals, ensured he ended the 14-game league season unbeaten with an 8-1 rout of Adrian Lewis in the night’s other game.

“That’s the first part of the job done now,” said Taylor. “I’m delighted to be unbeaten but it’s a whole new format now next week and I’d love to win back this title.

“Mervyn will have to turn up and play well in the semi-finals because I’m confident and know I can go up two or even three gears if I have to.”

Whitlock has enjoyed a fine debut season in the Premier League and averaged 104.6 in defeating King in Nottingham.

“My goal was to qualify and I’ve done that but to finish second is crazy,” said Whitlock. “It would be incredible if I can win this now, but I’ll be going to Wembley to do just that.

“I love playing James and we seem to have great matches, but hopefully I can keep up this form and go all the way.”

Wade may just have timed his run to the play-offs perfectly, but admitted that the clash with Jenkins was one of the toughest games he has been involved in as he bids to take the £125,000 title for a second successive year.

“That’s the most pressure I’ve ever felt in my life but I’d love to get hold of the trophy again and it’s really up for grabs in the play-offs,” said the left-hander. “I’m starting to come into a little bit of form and we’ll see what happens at Wembley now.”

Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts
Night 14, Trent FM Arena, Nottingham

Terry Jenkins 5-8 James Wade
Ronnie Baxter 2-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Simon Whitlock 8-2 Mervyn King
Phil Taylor 8-1 Adrian Lewis

Play-Offs
May 23 – Wembley Arena, London
Semi-Finals & Final
James Wade v Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor v Mervyn King
Followed by
Third Place Play-Off
Final
Tickets: 0844 815 0 815 or www.wembleyarena.co.uk

Final League Table

 

P

W

D

L

+/-

Pts

Phil Taylor

14

12

2

0

+58

26

Simon Whitlock

14

7

2

5

+9

16

James Wade

14

5

4

5

-1

14

Mervyn King

14

5

3

6

-3

13

Ronnie Baxter

14

4

5

5

-7

13

R v Barneveld

14

5

1

8

-15

11

Adrian Lewis

14

4

3

7

-16

11

Terry Jenkins

14

3

2

9

-25

8

JAMES WADE 8-5 TERRY JENKINS
REIGNING champion James Wade qualified for the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-offs with an 8-5 defeat of Terry Jenkins, who is condemned to finish last in the league table after the loss in Nottingham.

World number three Wade lost his opening three games this season, but bounced back well and edged into the top four with a fifth victory of the campaign.

Wade’s victory also means that Jenkins, the 2007 runner-up, finishes at the bottom of the table after losing his final three games.

A nervy opening saw the players share the opening four legs, with the first two being won on double ten and the next pair on double top.

Jenkins also posted double top to win the fifth, but Wade found another gear and landed a 180 in levelling before punishing one missed double from his opponent to break throw for the first time in the game on double top.

Another double top finish put Wade 5-3 up, before he missed the same bed in the ninth as Jenkins posted double four to hit back.

Wade claimed a sixth leg with a key 110 checkout as the pace increased, Jenkins replying in 11 darts but left waiting on a finish in the 12th leg, as double top crucially gave Wade a 7-5 cushion.

With only a draw to play for, Jenkins set up a 141 finish only to miss the double 12, and Wade sealed victory on double 18.

“That’s the most pressure I’ve ever felt in my life,” admitted Wade afterwards. “It’s my own fault I was in this situation but I’d love to get hold of the trophy again.

“It’s really up for grabs in the play-offs. I’m starting to come into a little bit of form and we’ll see what happens at Wembley now.”

He added: “The 110 finish was crucial and won me the game. It wasn’t the best match but I did the job and that’s what was important.”

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 8-2 RONNIE BAXTER
RONNIE BAXTER’S hopes of qualifying for the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-offs were ended by a crushing 8-2 defeat against Raymond van Barneveld in Nottingham.

Baxter needed to avoid defeat in his final league match if he was to hold on to a top four, but he paid the price for a string of missed doubles after out-scoring his opponent.

Van Barneveld’s superior finishing saw him pick up a third successive victory to finish a disappointing campaign on a high.

Baxter started well, taking the opening leg in 13 darts and hitting double top at the first time of asking.

Van Barneveld levelled on double nine, and took advantage of three misses from his opponent in the next to break throw and lead 2-1.

Two further misses allowed the world number two to move 3-1 up on double 16, before he took out 120 on double top for a three-leg cushion.

Van Barneveld struggled himself on his doubles in the next two legs, but Baxter was unable to capitalise in two visits to the oche in each as the Dutchman moved 6-1 up, a lead which was extended to six legs when he landed double ten to land the next.

Baxter finished double six, with his third dart at a double in the leg, to stop van Barneveld’s winning run.

However, the Dutchman opened with scores of 180 and 137 in the next and posted double three to seal the win.

“I’m really happy to finish with the win,” said van Barneveld. “It’s been disappointing to miss out on the top four but I can build for the rest of the year now.”

Baxter admitted: “I had a nightmare on my doubles. My scoring was no problem but when it came to the double it just didn’t happen.

“I’ve been in the top four for a long time but my doubles in the last couple of weeks have cost me. I’ve enjoyed the season and I’ll be trying my hardest to get back in next year.”

SIMON WHITLOCK 8-2 MERVYN KING
SIMON WHITLOCK secured second place in the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts table with an 8-2 win over play-off rival Mervyn King at the Trent FM Arena in Nottingham.

The Australian has impressed in the past six months, reaching the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship final in January and coming through to enter the final league night of the Premier League second in the table.

A superb display of finishing, where he hit eight from nine attempts at a double for the second time this season, saw him blow away King, who finishes fourth and will now play Phil Taylor in the semis.

Whitlock made the idea start, hitting double top for the first leg and a 130 finish on the bull for a 12-darter in the second.

King landed a 180 in the third, but Whitlock wired the bullseye for a 164 checkout before returning to post double eight.

A double 19 finish put him 4-0 up before King landed a pressure double eight to get off the mark in the next leg, after Whitlock left himself on 16 with a superb 174 score.

The duo traded double 16 finishes in the next two legs, and Whitlock hit the same bed to lead 7-2 before hitting a 180 and an 88 finish in wrapping up the victory with a superb 104.60 average.

“My goal was to qualify and I’ve done that but to finish second is crazy,” said Whitlock. “It would be incredible if I can win this now, but I’ll be going to Wembley to do just that.

“I love playing James and we seem to have great matches, but hopefully I can keep up this form and go all the way.”

PHIL TAYLOR 8-1 ADRIAN LEWIS
PHIL TAYLOR crushed Adrian Lewis’ feint hopes of breaking into the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-offs with an 8-1 triumph at the Trent FM Arena in Nottingham.

While unbeaten Taylor faced no pressure going into the final league game of the season, Lewis needed to win either 8-1 or 8-0 to reach the play-offs.

Although he won the opening leg, starting with a 180 and taking out an 11-darter, Lewis’ hopes of securing that win were dashed in stunning fashion by his Stoke rival.

Taylor showed Lewis no mercy in storming to victory, hitting a 180 and double eight in the second leg before breaking throw with a 98 finish.

Double top in the fourth was a hammer blow to Lewis’ hopes, and missed doubles from the youngster allowed Taylor in on double 16 for a 4-1 lead.

Taylor then followed a 71 checkout with a 105 finish to pull clear, and hit a second 180 and double seven to lead 7-1.

Lewis posted a second maximum of the game to leave 24 in the next, but Taylor completed the rout with a two-dart 80 finish in progressing in style to the play-offs.

“There was probably too much pressure on Adrian in that match and you could tell, but I concentrated on my job and did it,” said Taylor.

“That’s the first part of the job done now. I’m delighted to be unbeaten but it’s a whole new format now next week and I’d love to win back this title.

“Mervyn will have to turn up and play well in the semi-finals because I’m confident and know I can go up two or even three gears if I have to.”

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