Michael Smith was back to his best as he beat league leaders Gerwyn Price 6-4 to claim his second Cazoo Premier League night win of this year in Leeds on Thursday.
Smith slipped out of the top four for the first time since night two after a quarter-final loss to Price in Rotterdam last Thursday, but delivered an emphatic response on night 13 in a raucous First Direct Arena. The world champion went into his fifth weekly final of the campaign in full fashion, giving up just three legs as he saw off Chris Dobey and then Peter Wright. Smith averaged 105 in his demolition of Dobey in the quarter-final, making five 180s and threatening a nine darter before wrapping up a 6–1 success. The 2018 runner-up then punished a sub-par performance by defeating Wright 6-2 in the semifinal, crashing in five more 180s and sealing his progression with a spectacular 164 checkout. This set up a showdown against the league leader Price, but Smith avoided a third successive defeat to the Welsh, producing a stellar display to collect West Yorkshire’s £10,000 winner’s bonus.
The world number one fired legs of 13 and 11 darts to race into a 2-0 lead, and while Price halved the deficit with a 12-dart catch in leg three, Smith maintained his two-leg buffer with subsequent tricks. Price conjured an effortless combination of 148 at the top to reduce the arrears to 4-3, though the St Helens star was undeterred, rounding legs by 13 and 14 darts in the latter stages to secure five valuable points. “This was a big night for me,” reflected Smith, who averaged 104 to overtake Price to four points clear of fifth-placed Jonny Clayton. “If I had lost to Chris tonight, I think my first four chances would have been a bit slim, so to come to Leeds and get five points, it feels huge. “I just wish I could play like this every week. I seem to only do it when I need to. This is a learning curve for me. “Three or four years ago I wouldn’t have done that tonight. Now I’m able to fight and fight which you have to do when you play against the best players in the world, like Gezzy. “I showed what I can do. I had to fight for everything and luckily that pushed me over the edge.”
Price, meanwhile, extended his lead at the top with wins over Jonny Clayton and Nathan Aspinall to reach his seventh night final of 2023 and move into second place four points clear of Michael van Gerwen.
The 38-year-old was commanding in his All-Welsh quarter-final against Clayton, averaging nearly 111 to storm in a 6-2 success, which saw 2021 champion Clayton slip out of the top four. Price continued his charge by avenging his defeat to Aspinall in last Thursday’s Rotterdam final, capitalizing on the Stockport star’s doubling woes to emerge victorious in a disjointed contest. Semi-finalists Wright and Aspinall left Leeds with two points each thanks to victories in the quarter-finals against Van Gerwen and Dimitri Van den Bergh respectively. Wright produced arguably his performance of the season as he defeated Van Gerwen 6-3 in his last eight fights, putting out three straight legs to end his four-match losing streak against the Dutchman. Elsewhere, Night 12 winner Aspinall outlasted Van den Bergh for the second straight week, crashing in a top four and converting an extra final pairing to burn out a 6-4 winner.
The Cazoo Premier League roadshow heads to Manchester’s AO Arena for night 14 next Thursday as Price takes on defending champion Van Gerwen in a battle for the league’s top two.
Play-off hopefuls Smith and Aspinall collide in a crucial clash, Clayton begins his bid for a third night win of the season against Wright, while Dobey and Van den Bergh also collide.
The article Darts Premier League: Michael Smith returns to his best after beating Gerwyn Price in Leeds first appeared on Planetsport.com.