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JAMES WADE ended Michael van Gerwen's winning start to the 2019 Unibet Premier League season with an emphatic 7-3 victory over the Dutchman at Westpoint Exeter.
Night Four of the campaign saw four-time champion Van Gerwen taste defeat in a televised game for the first time since November, as Wade repeated his 2016 Premier League triumph over the world number one.
Eight missed doubles in the opening six legs from Van Gerwen saw Wade make the most of his opportunities to stay in the contest at 3-3.
The second half of the game saw Wade turn on the style, romping home to a memorable win without allowing Van Gerwen a shot at double in the final four legs. Wade found a crucial double 19 with his last dart in hand for a 65 finish to break throw and take the lead for the first time, before holding throw to take full control of the tie.
A clinical 121 checkout on the bullseye followed as Wade sealed a point, before finishing the job in the next leg, finding double 18 at the third attempt to record an impressive win and fire himself up to second in the table.
World Championship quarter-finalist Luke Humphries drew 6-6 with Gerwyn Price on his Premier League debut, in a game which saw Price miss double 12 for a nine-dart finish in his third consecutive draw.
An electric start to the evening began with Price emulating the form which saw him win back-to-back ProTour titles last weekend as the Welshman fired in a 147 finish to take a 3-1 lead.
Rising star Humphries hit straight back with a 161 checkout to halve the deficit, before Price came agonisingly close to landing the first perfect leg of this year's Premier League. Growing in confidence, Humphries took out his second bullseye finish of the match for an 81 checkout, which he followed with a 94 combination to hit the front for the first time at 5-4.
Two holds of throw followed, and after Humphries agonisingly missed double 14 for a 148 finish to take victory, Price took out 76 under pressure to claim a point from a thriller and maintain his unbeaten start to the campaign.
2018 Premier League finalist Michael Smith claimed his first win of the season against Raymond van Barneveld to climb off the foot of the table and send the departing Dutchman bottom in the process. Van Barneveld took a 3-1 lead, before Smith won three successive legs to go in front, only for Van Barneveld to halt the Smith charge and make it 4-4.
That was as good as it got for the former Premier League champion as injury-hit Smith battled through the pain barrier to land a 90 checkout to go 6-4 up, before finding his favourite double top in the following leg to end his winless start to the season
Mensur Suljovic also claimed his first win of the campaign as he fought off a Peter Wright comeback to run out a 7-4 victor. After world number three Wright took the opening leg, Suljovic ran off six legs without reply, sealing at least a draw with a 121 checkout.
Wright stopped the rot to make it 6-2, following it up with finishes of 81 and 85 to make Suljovic sweat at 6-4. However, the following leg saw the Austrian wrap up victory with his third attempt at a match-winning double to end Wright's unbeaten start to the season.
Rob Cross romped to a 7-1 triumph over Daryl Gurney as the former World Champion bounced back from his disappointing 7-2 defeat to Michael van Gerwen in Dublin on Night Three. The first six legs saw Cross relentlessly and clinically deny Gurney an attempt at double, taking out 153 - his highest finish of the season so far - on his way to a 6-0 lead.
Gurney took out 80 in two darts to avoid the whitewash, only for Cross to pin double six to seal victory in the next leg. However, the stars of the Premier League now travel to the Butlin's Minehead Resort to compete in this weekend's Ladbrokes UK Open.
2019 Unibet Premier League
Night Four - Thursday February 28
Luke Humphries (C) 6-6 Gerwyn Price
Daryl Gurney 1-7 Rob Cross
Mensur Suljovic 7-4 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 3-7 James Wade
Michael Smith 7-4 Raymond van Barneveld
2019 Unibet Premier League Table
|1||Michael van Gerwen||4||3||0||1||+7||9||6|
|9||Raymond v Barneveld||4||0||2||2||-6||7||2|
Travel to the EXETER
Westpoint Arena, Clyst St Mary, Exeter EX5 1DJ