Template - Date: UNIBET Premier League Nottingham
Michael van Gerwen came into Night Six of the campaign under pressure following defeat to James Wade and a draw with John Henderson, but returned to winning ways against in-form Welshman Price.
A cagey start saw both players struggling to find their usual high-scoring power, but it was Van Gerwen who edged his way into the ascendancy at 4-2.
The Dutchman lit up the contest with a majestic 132 finish on the bullseye to make it 5-2, before sealing the deal with legs of 13 and 14 darts to condemn Price to his first loss of the season.
Night Six – Thursday March 14th
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Nathan Aspinall 2-7 Michael Smith
James Wade 3-7 Mensur Suljovic
Rob Cross 7-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Gerwyn Price 2-7 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 6-6 Daryl Gurney
Rob Cross kept the pressure on Van Gerwen at the table’s summit with a 7-3 win over departing Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld, with Cross only behind Van Gerwen on legs won against throw.
An exceptional performance from last year’s semi-finalist Cross saw him kick off the game with 12 and 13-dart legs, but Van Barneveld fought back with two successive 25 finishes to level.
That was as good as it got for the 2014 Premier League Champion, as Cross proved too strong, landing a 129 checkout on his way to winning five of the next six legs to claim his fourth success of the campaign, while Van Barneveld remains rooted to the foot of the table.
It was a tough welcome to Premier League life for recently-crowned UK Open Champion Nathan Aspinall, as he went down to a comprehensive 7-2 defeat at the hands of 2018 finalist Michael Smith.
Ten missed doubles in the opening three legs from Contender Aspinall allowed Smith to punish and take a 3-0 lead, before a mid-match rally from Aspinall saw him land a 158 checkout to bring it back to 5-2.
However, Smith was not to be denied and won it in style with a 127 checkout, his second ton-plus finish of the match, to double his tally of wins in the 2019 campaign and climb away from the elimination zone.
Mensur Suljovic also made a positive step away from the drop zone, producing his best performance of the campaign to claim a 7-3 victory over James Wade, who topped the table heading into the night’s action.
The opening two legs went on throw, before three consecutive breaks saw Suljovic take a 3-2 lead, and he followed it up with an 84 checkout to open up a two-leg cushion for the first time in the match at 4-2.
The Austrian went on to win three of the next four legs, ending the contest with a 101.38 average, as he picked up his second win of the season to steer himself away from the relegation picture.
The final game of the evening saw a gutsy Daryl Gurney survive a match dart as he battled back from 6-3 down to draw 6-6 with Peter Wright. The opening five legs went with throw, before Wright punished Gurney’s seven missed darts at double to take a 4-2 advantage.
At 6-3, Wright looked to be on his way to a third win in four games, only for Gurney to fire in three legs of five visits to earn a hard-fought point and end a run of two defeats, with the Northern Irishman three points clear of Van Barneveld.
The Unibet Premier League continues on Thursday March 21 with Night Seven in Berlin, as German number one Max Hopp makes his Premier League debut against Van Barneveld at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.