Wright backs up pre-match talk in Leeds

KEEPING COOL: Mendham's world number five, Peter Wright, in action against Premier League debutant Michael Smith in Leeds last Thursday
KEEPING COOL: Mendham's world number five, Peter Wright, in action against Premier League debutant Michael Smith in Leeds last Thursday
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Peter Wright promised his fans he would deliver a straightforward win to open his Betway Premier League camapign last Thursday — and he did just that.

The Mendham-based thrower, ranked number six in world, bullied the man known as ‘Bully Boy’ on his Premier League debut as Michael Smith found ‘Snakebite’s’ venomous comments ahead of the match lacked no bite on the night.

Wright, who was the evens favourite with BetVictor earlier in the week to see off William Hill World Championship semi-finalist Raymond van Barneveld (12/8) in last night’s SKY televisied second round in Newcastle (see www.dissexpress.co.uk/sport/live-sport for updates and result), saw off Smith 7-2, having flown into a 5-1 lead.

After an edgy start from both players, it was Wright who hit a double eight to finish a 20 dart leg to go 1-0 up.

He shot into a 3-0 lead with a 121 checkout on the bull and a double in the fourth leg to show there appears to be a new steely determination to avoid continuing a shaky Premier League record that had seen him win just three of his 19 previous matches.

Smith hit back to check out 84 after Wright slipped up by wiring double tops on what would have been a 116 out, before Snakebite pulled clear again with a comfortable hold of throw finishing on double tops this time, before breaking his opponent’s throw again.

But the Mednham ace proceeded to narrowly miss tops for a 120 and Smith stepped in with double 10 to break his throw and reduce his lead to 5-2 in the best of 12 legs match.

There was to be no more slip-ups for Snakebite though, as he concluded a dominant display by responding with a 12 dart leg before finishing off the match for a 7-2 victory.

n Meanwhile, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), have announced they will break new ground once again in 2016 by staging its first tournament live on the BBC, following a deal to introduce the Champions League of Darts to the circuit Wright is part of in September.

The eight-player tournament will be held on September 24-25 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff to kick off a new era for the sport on terrestrial television.

Featuring the leading eight players from the PDC Order of Merit following July’s BetVictor World Matchplay, the Champions League of Darts will see the stars split into two groups of four players.

Following the round-robin phase, the top two players from each group will then progress to the knockout semi-finals and final, with a huge £100,000 first prize on offer for the eventual champion.

PDC chairman, Barry Hearn, said: “The BBC has a long history of broadcasting darts but this will be the start of an exciting new era.”