Premier League Darts stops off in Belfast this week, and one player who will be relishing his return to home soil is Daryl Gurney.
The 32-year-old is finally off the mark after ending his long winless drought with a morale-boosting performance against fellow struggler Mensur Suljović in Glasgow. Superchin got the evening off to a rip-roaring start with a confident 7-3 victory to pull clear of immediate elimination danger.
Even with a partisan crowd behind him, the Northern Irishman may find the going tough in Belfast against a formidable opponent in Rob Cross. The reigning PDC World Champion has resoundingly answered the critics who questioned his longevity amongst the darts elite in recent weeks. After his sluggish opening few rounds, Cross has now notched up five consecutive victories in a row, and looks to be one of the few players capable of rivalling an imperious Michael van Gerwen.
Belfast will go double Dutch on Thursday night, with one of the all-time great Premier League Darts match-ups set to light up the SSE Arena as MVG takes on fellow countryman Raymond van Barneveld. The two have a rivalry dating back an amazing 12 years, when van Gerwen was just breaking through as a precocious 17-year-old on the international circuit. Even with MVG very much in the ascendancy over the last few years, veteran Barney may just fancy his chances of ruffling a few feathers with victory in Belfast after thrashing Peter Wright 7-1 last time out.
That scoreline seems to be a millstone around the neck of the Scotsman, who has now lost 7-1 on his last three outings. With Judgement Night just around the corner, he desperately needs to find some form to stand any chance of surviving any further than Liverpool.
Wright may get his shot of redemption against an equally out-of-form Simon Whitlock, who suddenly looks every inch the outsider he was predicted to be at the start of the Premier League Darts season.
He looks vulnerable as Judgement Night approaches after sliding to a 7-4 defeat against Gary Anderson, who certainly made the most of a rapturous reception in Glasgow. Now safely ensconced just below the leading pack, the Flying Scotsman can really start looking upwards if he can bag a second consecutive Premier League Darts victory when he takes on Mensur Suljović in Belfast.
Finally, one player looking up enviously at Anderson in mid-table is poor old Gerwyn Price. The Welshman runs the risk of being left cut adrift at the bottom after yet another outing without registering victory. After a comprehensive defeat to Rob Cross last week, his barren run is unlikely to end any time soon as he goes up against Michael Smith in Belfast. Smith will be looking for an instant response after losing ground on van Gerwen last week in a 7-2 defeat to the Dutchman.
Night Eight – March 29
The SSE Arena, Belfast
Mensur Suljović v Gary Anderson
Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen
Daryl Gurney v Rob Cross
Simon Whitlock v Peter Wright
Key stats from Night Seven
Highest 3 Dart Average: Simon Whitlock -104.13
Highest checkout: Michael Van Gerwen – 148
Most 180s: Gary Anderson – 6
Total 180s: 22
|1||Michael van Gerwen||7||6||0||1||24||12|
|4||Raymond van Barneveld||7||3||2||2||3||8|
Judgement Night – April 5
Echo Arena, Liverpool
Gary Anderson v Rob Cross
Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright
Mensur Suljović v Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Simon Whitlock v Gerwyn Price
All image sources from PA Images