GARY ANDERSON and Raymond van Barneveld claimed the final two places in the Betway Premier League Play-Offs in Newcastle on Thursday, as a defeat for Phil Taylor meant he would not reach the top four for the first time in the tournament's history.
World Champion Anderson picked up a narrow 7-5 triumph over the six-time Premier League champion, as Taylor was edged out in a must-win contest.
A draw for Raymond van Barneveld, against James Wade, also means that the reigning Premier League champion will compete in the Play-Offs in a fortnight, as a win for Adrian Lewis over Michael van Gerwen came in vain for his top four challenge.
Anderson's clash with Taylor was typically tight, mirroring their classic World Championship final and the Scot's narrow win on the opening night of the season, and he once again prevailed.
Taylor once again performed admirably, but was unable to break his rival's throw during a high-quality contest, as the opening ten legs all went with the throw, with the Stoke great landing a 126 checkout along the way.
Anderson had earlier taken out 90 on the bull and landed seven perfect darts in another leg, which he won in 11 darts, before breaking on double nine in the 11th leg for a 6-5 lead before edging the decider on double one to take the win.
The result means that Taylor misses out on the Play-Offs for the first time in 11 seasons of the Premier League, while Anderson remains on course for a second title to follow his 2011 triumph.
"As long as I held my own throw for six legs then I knew I'd get the point that I needed, but I got a break as well and then pinched it at the end," said Anderson. "I've scraped through and anything could happen now.
"For the first nine weeks I was doing really well but I've struggled for a few weeks, so it's great to make sure I'm in the Play-Offs. It's a shame to knock Phil out because he's had some huge averages this season, and he'll be back."
Reigning champion van Barneveld came from 3-0 down to draw with James Wade to claim the point that he ultimately needed to book his spot in the Play-Offs - extending his unbeaten run to seven matches.
Wade started superbly, finishing 121 to break in the second leg, and was left waiting on 61 following a 180 in leg four only for van Barneveld to land double 16.
The Dutchman also took the next two to level, and though Wade finished double ten to edge 4-3 up, the Dutchman finished key checkouts of 80, 74 and 68 as he moved into a 6-4 advantage.
The pair traded 180s in leg 11 as a 14-darter from Wade forced a deciding leg, with van Barneveld missing two match darts to allow the left-hander to snatch a point.
"After having only five points going into Judgement Night it's great to get through to the Play-Offs," said van Barneveld, who survived with a draw in Manchester before winning his next five matches.
"I think it was a fair result because I didn't get going at the start - at 3-0 down you think it's not your night, so you're happy to get a draw at the end.
"I'm happy to still be in the competition but my game has to improve and I'll be giving it my all next week against Stephen Bunting."
Lewis was at his sublime best as he overcame van Gerwen 7-5 in a see-saw thriller, averaging 108.91 and hitting seven 180s to briefly keep alive his hopes of snatching a Play-Off spot.
Lewis had led 2-0 before missed doubles in the third allowed van Gerwen to get off the mark, with the Dutchman levelling and following a 98 checkout from his rival with checkouts of 87 and 121 to move 4-3 up.
Van Gerwen then punished Lewis' miss at the bullseye in the next to lead 5-3, only for Lewis to fire back with a maximums in the next four legs.
His surge began with a 12-darter before he punished two misses from van Gerwen to level, before posting a brilliant 11-darter to move 6-5 up and taking the final leg in another 11 superb darts to claim the victory.
"I had to win the game to stay in the mix and I did that, but I don't think I deserved to be in the top four," admitted Lewis. "I was under pressure from the off because Michael had nothing to lose, and it was great to get the win.
"All I wanted to do was take my floor form onto the stage, and tonight I proved that I can do it so I'm happy with that. There are more major tournaments coming up soon and I want to take that form into those events."
Van Gerwen's defeat means that he now faces Dave Chisnall in Brighton next week in a shoot-out to decide who finishes top of the table, with the St Helens ace moving just a point behind the current league leader with a 7-1 win over Stephen Bunting.
After taking the opening leg with tops, Chisnall produced some brilliant darts with legs of 12, 14 and 11 darts - including a sublime 180 followed by a 137 checkout to move four legs clear.
He traded 180s with Bunting to win a fifth leg before the former Lakeside Champion hit back in the sixth on double ten, but Chisnall was clinical in securing the victory by taking out double 16 in the next and a 132 checkout on the bullseye, ending with a 104.50 average.
"I'm delighted," said Chisnall. "I started a bit slowly but it's all about the winning and I've done that.
"Stephen didn't play like he can and I took full advantage - I scored heavily and finished well again. I'm over the moon with how I'm playing at the moment and I want to keep winning and take this into the Play-Offs."
The final league night of the 2015 Betway Premier League season takes place at The Brighton Centre next Thursday, with Taylor facing Wade, van Barneveld meeting Bunting and Lewis playing Anderson before the decider for top spot between van Gerwen and Chisnall.
A small number of tickets are still available by calling 0844 847 1515 or online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk.
Betway Premier League
Night 14, Thursday May 7
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Dave Chisnall 7-1 Stephen Bunting
Adrian Lewis 7-5 Michael van Gerwen
James Wade 6-6 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 5-7 Gary Anderson
Night 15, Thursday May 14
The Brighton Centre
** Revised Order of Play **
Phil Taylor v James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld v Stephen Bunting
Adrian Lewis v Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
Tickets: 0844 847 1515 or www.ticketmaster.co.uk
Dave Chisnall v Stephen Bunting
1-0 - Chisnall finishes 50 on tops to win the opening leg.
2-0 - Chisnall lands a 180 to leave 137 before taking out the combination on double 16 to break.
3-0 - Chisnall finishes 70 on double eight to move three legs clear.
4-0 - Another break of throw sees Chisnall move four legs clear as he produces a brilliant 11-dart leg, opening with a 180 before finishing double 16.
5-0 - The pair trade 180s before Chisnall lands double two to win a fifth leg.
5-1 - Bunting finally gets off the mark as he takes out double ten.
6-1 - Both players open with 180s before double 16 sees Chisnall seal a minimum of a draw.
7-1 - Chisnall finishes the game in style by taking out 132 on the bull, completing the contest with a 104.50 average.
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
1-0 - Lewis finishes 64 to win the opening leg.
2-0 - Lewis lands double 12 to break throw and move two legs up.
2-1 - Lewis fires in a maximum, but misses three darts at tops as van Gerwen lands double seven to break back.
2-2 - Double eight sees van Gerwen level.
3-2 - The Dutchman lands a 180, but Lewis takes out 98 in two darts on double 19 to move back ahead.
3-3 - van Gerwen takes out 87 on double eight to square the game again.
3-4 - The pair trade 180s again before van Gerwen finishes 121 on the bull to break throw and move ahead for the first time.
3-5 - Lewis misses the bull to take out 121 himself, and van Gerwen returns from a miss at tops to hit the bed at the second time of asking.
4-5 - Lewis hits back with a 12-darter, featuring a 180 and a 91 finish.
5-5 - Lewis posts another maximum, and is given a let-off for his missed doubles when van Gerwen is unable to land double ten and five, allowing the Stoke ace back to level on tops.
6-5 - Lewis produces a brilliant 11-dart leg, scoring 180, 140 and 145 before finishing double nine to move ahead.
7-5 - Lewis kicks off the final leg with five perfect darts - scoring 180 and 125 - before sealing the victory in style.
Lewis' win means that he can still make the Play-Offs should Raymond van Barneveld and/or Gary Anderson lose their final two games.
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
1-0 - Wade finishes tops to take the opening leg.
2-0 - van Barneveld scores 171 to leave 40, but Wade takes out a superb 121 on double 14.
3-0 - Wade finishes 56 on tops to win a third successive leg.
3-1 - Wade lands a 180 to leave 61, but misses tops to complete the combination as van Barneveld finishes double 16 to get off the mark.
3-2 - Wade leaves tops, but van Barneveld finishes double ten to break and win a second successive leg.
3-3 - van Barneveld lands his first 180 before taking out double ten once again.
4-3 - Wade this time lands double ten as he moves back ahead.
4-4 - Wade fires in a maximum to leave 41, but van Barneveld holds his nerve to finish 80 on double ten to level.
4-5 - van Barneveld takes out 74 on tops to break throw and move ahead for the first time.
4-6 - The reigning champion opens with a maximum before finishing 68 on double four to secure at least a draw.
5-6 - The pair trade 180s before Wade completes a 14-darter on double ten to take the game into a deciding leg.
6-6 - Wade lands his fourth 180 but wires the bull for a 121 finish - only for van Barneveld to miss two match darts at double 16 as Wade returns to pin double ten.
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
1-0 - Taylor lands double five with his third dart as he takes the opening leg.
1-1 - Anderson finishes 90 on the bull to level.
2-1 - Anderson lands a 180, but Taylor finishes 84 on double 12 to move back ahead.
2-2 - Anderson hits back on double eight.
3-2 - Taylor finishes 66 with a bullseye, double eight combination.
3-3 - Anderson lands seven perfect darts - hitting two 180s and a seventh treble 20 before missing the treble 19 in his bid for a nine-darter - but returns to win the leg in 11 darts.
4-3 - Anderson opens with a 180, but Taylor fires in double 18 to edge back ahead and avert a possible break of throw.
4-4 - Anderson finishes a 66 combination with treble ten and double 18 to level once again.
5-4 - Taylor once again moves in front, taking out a superb 126 finish on the bullseye.
5-5 - Anderson lands his fifth 180 before posting double 16 to level the game again - ensuring the clash will go the full distance.
5-6 - Taylor hits his second 180, but misses double 11 to finish 102 to allow Anderson in, and double nine for the Scot sees him secure at least a point and knock Taylor out of the tournament - securing both his own and Raymond van Barneveld's Play-Off places.
5-7 - Anderson eventually seals victory on double one, after Taylor misses his chance to claim a point.