sport

Taylor shines on Leeds debut

Michael van Gerwen replaced Peter Wright on top and Phil Taylor's revival continued on a record-breaking night in Leeds on Thursday night.

A packed-out 11,000 strong crowd witnessed three draws as Peter Wright maintained his unbeaten start with a 161 finish - the checkout of the night - to snatch a share of the spoils against Raymond van Barneveld.

Defending champion Van Gerwen is the new leader on legs difference, though, after battling to a 7-5 victory over Gary Anderson.

'Mighty Mike' was behind for much of the contest but an average of 102 kept the pressure on Anderson, who buckled to remain two points above the relegation places.

Anderson made a costly blunder in the eighth leg when he missed single 10, van Gerwen ruthlessly stepping in and levelling for 4-4 with one dart at double 18.

Van Gerwen showed his class again in the 10th leg with a 121 checkout - his third three figure finish of the evening - and a slick 70 checkout saw him break for 6-5.

Anderson was never in with a chance of breaking for a draw, Van Gerwen finishing with an 11-dart leg to clinch his fifth win in eight matches.

On claiming top spot, Van Gerwen told Sky Sports: "I want to stay there, there's a long way to go but I want to win this tournament. This (tonight) was amazing, this is one of the best crowds I've ever seen in my life - they all seem to be enjoying the night and that's what is important."

Van Gerwen's fierce rival Taylor later made it three wins in four weeks as a 7-1 annihilation of Wes Newton to boosted his survival hopes.

Taylor registered a season's best average of 107, landing seven of 14 doubles and after the match sent an ominous message to his rivals.

"I'm going to get better each week, he said. "It will be a belter (against Barney in Dublin) next week. He's playing well and I'm not nervous anymore."

Adrian Lewis escaped with a draw after Robert Thornton missed two darts for victory in the second match of the night.

Relegation-threatened Thornton, who led 4-0 early on, missed a dart at tops for 7-4 and the same target for 7-5 and Lewis made him pay by hitting the lipstick for a share of the spoils.

A fourth draw in eight matches leaves Thornton in grave danger of finishing in the bottom two heading into his final match in Cardiff in two weeks, where he will face Taylor.

Simon Whitlock remains on course for an early exit from the competition but did at least pick up a point on his first visit to Leeds due to the profligacy of Dave Chisnall.

Chisnall led 3-0 and 6-4 but missed doubles and a costly 'busted' score in the deciding leg allowed Whitlock to level and claim just his third point of the campaign.