Darts: Clayton Draws with Wright in Thriller on Premier League Night One
(Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Debutant Jonny Clayton picked up a point after playing out a sensational 6-6 draw with Peter Wright on the opening night of the 2021 Premier League in Milton Keynes

The Ferret held his nerve in the final leg to earn his first point against Wright, who also averaged a ton-plus in the game and was perfect on his doubles. 

Nathan Aspinall, last year's runner-up, was the only person to pick up a victory on Night One after a 7-3 victory over reigning champion Glen Durrant

Dimitri Van den Bergh and Jose de Sousa, both also making their full-time Premier League debuts, also picked up a point after drawing with Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross respectively. 

James Wade, who replaced world number one Gerwyn Price in the tournament on Monday morning, also played out a draw, as Gary Anderson took out a spectacular 156 finish in the last leg.

Clayton impresses on Premier League debut against Wright

Masters champion Clayton, who appeared as a ‘challenger’ in Cardiff last year, impressed in his first game as a full-time Premier League player, taking Wright all the way in a thrilling draw – averaging 105.56. 

After the first four legs in the game all went against the throw, Wright pressed on, hitting finishes of 106 and 138 to move into a 5-3 lead, before Clayton broke straight back with a stunning 129 checkout. 

Wright went into the last leg of the game with the lead, but Clayton remained calm under pressure, taking out 78 in two darts to pick up a point. 

Van den Bergh, who appeared as a ‘contender’ in Rotterdam in 2019, was also making his full-time Premier League debut and went close to claiming a huge victory over five-time champion van Gerwen. 

The Belgian ace went toe-to-toe with MvG and went into the final leg of the game ahead, but former world champion van Gerwen took out 101 in three darts – with Van den Bergh waiting on 64 – to ensure the points were shared.

Aspinall tops table after victory over Durrant

In the opening game of the night, Aspinall managed to avenge the defeat of last year’s final with an impressive 7-3 victory over reigning champion Durrant. 

A ton-plus checkout in the second leg settled Aspinall, who went on to race away with the game to the out-of-form Durrant, finishing with an average of 97.6 and with five 180s. 

Former world champion Cross fought back to claim the final two legs of the game to earn a point against current Grand Slam champion de Sousa. 

The Special One looked set to make a dream start to Premier League life after moving into a 6-4 lead, but Cross managed to break in the final leg, taking out 88 with a bullseye finish, to start the first block of matches with a draw. 

Wade, who replaced Price after the world champion tested positive for Covid-19, was left stunned after Anderson pinned the checkout of the night to take a draw. 

The three-time UK Open champion opened up a 4-2 lead against Anderson after taking out 96 and 87 in consecutive legs. 

Anderson refused to let Wade run away with the game, winning three of the next four legs to make it 5-5, and the Flying Scotsman took out a sensational 156 in the last leg to earn a point. 

Unibet Premier League  
Night One 
Monday 5 April 

Nathan Aspinall 7-3 Glen Durrant 
Rob Cross 6-6 Jose de Sousa 
Peter Wright 6-6 Jonny Clayton 
James Wade 6-6 Gary Anderson 
Michael van Gerwen 6-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh 

Night Two 
Tuesday 6 April (1900 BST) 

Gary Anderson v Jose de Sousa 
Jonny Clayton v Glen Durrant 
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Nathan Aspinall 
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright 
James Wade v Rob Cross