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Glasgow revels in sharp end of darts contest

Hampden has a roar.

Peter Wright was typically colourful as he got the home crowd going with an opening victory against Englishman Adrian Lewis. Picture: SNS
Peter Wright was typically colourful as he got the home crowd going with an opening victory against Englishman Adrian Lewis. Picture: SNS

The Hydro had a din last night. Glasgow's newest venue had its first taste of a sports crowd as the world's top darts players descended on the city for the Betway Premier League, the home crowd making itself heard to inspire a Scottish trio to five points on week four.

As the noise from 10,000 punters reverberated around the vast arena, all eyes were fixed on centre stage and the oche where 10 players did battle on a night of drama, nerves, triumph and despair. The star-studded field which contained no fewer than four World Champions came in search of crucial league points after an opening few weeks of competition which has provided plenty of thrills and spills already.

There was only one man who could get the night off to a start to match the occasion, however. Peter Wright, clad in saltire trousers and with a patriotic design on his famous mohawk, got the event up and running and gave the home crowd something to cheer.

"I was s******* myself, to be honest," said the Scottish player known as Snakebite, following a superb 7-1 win over Adrian Lewis. "As soon as I walked out I could hear the noise and I thought 'I can't let myself down, I can't let Glasgow down'.

"I kicked off with a 180 and then went in the big five. I know Adrian was getting booed but I'll go places where I get booed and I'll deal with it."

The atmosphere was still at fever pitch when another of Scotland's favourite sons took the stage, Robert Thornton again the man with the backing in the second match with the Auld Enemy. He was unable to follow in compatriot Wright's footsteps, however, Wes Newton taking the last leg of their match as it finished 6-6.

"I couldn't find my rhythm tonight," Thornton said. "To walk away with a point, I am happy enough. Whatever happens tonight, I stay out of the bottom two. I was 4-2 down and the fans lift you a lot. When the darts aren't going in, it is a big help."

It has been some time since Glasgow has witnessed a relegation battle but the stakes could not have been higher as the next pair - Phil Taylor and Simon Whitlock - took to the oche. In the battle of the bottom two in the league, it was the Power who ensured he would not be facing an early exit from the competition, the grin in the aftermath of the 7-3 win one of both relief and satisfaction.

Before the final Scot, Gary Anderson, could aim to send the Glasgow punters home happy, two Dutch crowd favourites put on a compelling tungsten tussle as Raymond van Barneveld upset countryman and reigning World Champion Michael van Gerwen with a 7-5 win. The Barney Army rightly saluting their hero after a 107 average.

It was Anderson who would take the final points of the night, though, with the Flying Scotsman turning in a superb performance to record his second win of the Premier League.

"I am actually playing quite well," said the Berwickshire-born player afterwards. "I played Raymond, who had a 109 average and Robert with 106. You can't do much against that.

"My doubles are fine. It has been killing me for the last two years. I was going up there and missing doubles and people kept mentioning it. I am pleased to get back after two years of playing bad, especially to win it Glasgow."

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