sport

Wright keeps hopes alive

Peter Wright kept alive his hopes of qualifying for the Premier League play-offs as he claimed a 6-6 draw with Phil Taylor in Newcastle.

Six-time champion Taylor headed into the encounter knowing that a win would confirm his place in the semi-finals and had a dart in the deciding leg to clinch victory.

But he was unable to convert as Wright snatched a draw, meaning the fight for the final two play-off places, involving both men and Gary Anderson, will go down to the wire in Brighton next week.

Wright started well as he claimed an immediate break of the throw, but Taylor hit back to claim the next two and looked to have landed a real body blow when he took out 120 after Wright had missed three darts at a double to lead 3-1.

But 'Snakebite' responded well and calmly took out both 55 and 49 in two darts to haul himself level at the halfway point.

He would get his nose in front again as he took advantage of some sloppy finishing from his rival to claim a third straight leg, but Taylor then produced his best spell of the match to take control again.

Having clinically taken out 65 to level, the 16-time world champion came up with an 11-darter, featuring two maximums, to open a 5-4 lead.

Wright held his nerve to level, but Taylor ensured he would take at least a point from the match when he found tops to move 6-5 to the good.

In a dramatic denouement, Wright just failed with a 150 checkout - stopping to goad the crowd between his second and third darts - to leave a clearly unimpressed Taylor with three darts at 62 for the match.

But he missed with a single dart at double-16 allowing Wright to return and take out double-nine for a share of the spoils.

"I was gutted, I had my chances and I missed a lot of doubles there. But I'm happy to still be in there," Taylor told Sky Sports afterwards.

"I'll be trying to win, a draw might get me through, but it's going to be a twitchy, twitchy time next week. There's three of us fighting for two spaces, it's brilliant really."

Anderson earlier beat Dave Chisnall 7-4 to ensure he is now level on points with Taylor in the standings and one ahead of Wright going into the final round of the regular season.

In the top-of-the-table clash between Dutchmen Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld, it was the former who claimed bragging rights with a 7-4 win over his compatriot.

Barney had opened a 3-1 lead in the early stages, but his younger rival came roaring back with four straight legs to put himself firmly in the driving seat.

Although van Barneveld stopped the rot in the ninth, van Gerwen would not be denied and finished the job in real style with a 132 checkout to ensure he moved two points clear at the top of the table.

In the night's other match, Adrian Lewis put a nightmare run behind him with a hard-fought 7-5 triumph over Robert Thornton.

Lewis had not tasted victory in his eight previous matches in the competition, but produced a maximum in the final leg before hitting double-five to finally get back to winning ways.