RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD jumped up to third in the Betway Premier League with victories over Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis in Birmingham on Thursday, as Dave Chisnall sealed a Play-Off place.
A dramatic 13th league night of the season proved unlucky for Lewis as he saw his Play-Off hopes virtually ended by two defeats - but van Barneveld continued his brilliant form with a pair of wins to move into the top four.
The Dutchman had only escaped elimination on Judgement Night with a draw against Anderson, but he took his winning run to five successive matches as he overcame the Scot and Lewis at the Barclaycard Arena.
World Champion Anderson had taken a 4-0 lead in their contest as he punished a string of missed doubles with some superb finishing of his own, including a showpiece 125 checkout of bullseye, outer bull and bullseye.
Van Barneveld, though, clawed his way back level before punishing five misses from Anderson to lead 5-4, and though the Scot hit back with a 13-darter, two missed doubles to claim a draw in the deciding leg allowed the reigning Premier League champion to edge the win.
He then returned to the stage later in the evening and produced a sublime display to overcome Lewis 7-2, a result which moved him above Anderson in the table.
Van Barneveld took out 161 to win the opening leg, and though Lewis took out a pair of 132 checkouts - ending both on the bullseye - it was the Dutchman who reeled off four straight legs to claim the points.
"It's been an amazing night for me and I'm so proud of myself," said van Barneveld. "I was playing against two of the best players in the world and I'm really pleased.
"Adrian beat me 7-1 on the opening night with a 114 average, so it was a bit of payback for me! He's an amazing player but I put him under pressure.
"I had my back against the wall in Week Nine when I played Gary and I got the draw to stay in, but to have five straight wins since and be in the third position is great for me.
"I'm not in the Play-Offs yet, I still need wins, but I'm very proud."
The night also saw Dave Chisnall claim his Play-Off place with a 7-4 win over Lewis in the opening fixture, as the St Helens ace bounced back from a narrow loss to van Barneveld last week with a win which consolidates second place in the table.
Lewis opened the game with a 180 and led 3-1 before Chisnall turned the contest on its head with successive checkouts of 130, 116 and 104, before taking out a key 6-1 to move 5-2 up.
He added a 180 to lead 6-3, and though Lewis hit back in the next it was the 2014 Grand Slam of Darts runner-up who claimed the win to seal his spot in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 21.
"I'm delighted," said Chisnall. "I've finished well this season and that was the difference again tonight.
"The defeat last week was playing on my mind a bit before the game and I started slowly, but those three ton-plus finishes probably won me the game. Adrian missed a few darts at a double and I took my chances and scraped the win.
"Even though I'm through it's important to keep playing the darts I've been playing recently - you don't want to slack off and hopefully I can carry on winning."
Those results mean that six-time champion Phil Taylor is in danger of missing out on the Play-Offs for the first time since the Premier League was introduced in 2005, after slipping to fifth, and three points behind the top four, with a defeat to Michael van Gerwen.
Taylor, though, did little wrong as league leader van Gerwen averaged 112.91, hit five 180s and an 11-darter as he came from 3-1 down to storm to a 7-4 triumph.
"Phil played really well at the start but I was playing really well too, and when I was 3-1 down I just had to hold my own throw and try to break his, which I did," said van Gerwen.
"I'm really pleased with my own performance, and I hit the right shots at the right moments. Phil's a legend and to beat him like this means a lot to me.
"Averages are important but it's also about getting the two points and I did that tonight. I want to keep this going now in the next two weeks before the Play-Offs."
The night's other game saw James Wade and Stephen Bunting share a dramatic draw which means that the duo cannot now qualify for the Play-Offs.
A tight contest saw Bunting take out 100 before breaking throw for a 3-2 lead, only for Wade to edge ahead - but the 2009 champion missed two match darts in the deciding leg as the St Helens man stepped in to take out 120 for a point.
"I feel good and I enjoyed the game, but you obviously go up there to try and win the game and I couldn't quite do that tonight," said Bunting.
"It's been a bit of strange Premier League for me and I've not played as well as I wanted to, but I want to enjoy the last couple of weeks and pick up a couple of wins."
Wade's Play-Off challenge has faltered with four losses and two draws since Judgement Night, and he admitted: "I'm really disappointed.
"It wasn't a good enough result and I didn't play well enough - Stephen had a better game than me. If anything, I was probably a little bit too nervous and there was maybe too much respect for Stephen, but in the final two games I want to prove a point to myself."
The two remaining league nights, at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle next Thursday and at The Brighton Centre on May 14, will see four games played per night as the battle for the final two Play-Off places concludes.
A huge contest in Newcastle will see Taylor take on Anderson, while Chisnall faces Bunting, Lewis takes on van Gerwen and van Barneveld meets Wade.
Betway Premier League
Night 13, Thursday April 30
The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
Dave Chisnall 7-4 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Gary Anderson
James Wade 6-6 Stephen Bunting
Michael van Gerwen 7-4 Phil Taylor
Adrian Lewis 2-7 Raymond van Barneveld
Night 14, Thursday May 7
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
** Revised Order of Play **
Dave Chisnall v Stephen Bunting
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Tickets: 08444 93 666 or www.eventim.co.uk
Dave Chisnall v Adrian Lewis
1-0 - Lewis kicks off the match with a 180 and adds a 145 score to leave 40 after 12 darts, but misses three darts at doubles to allow Chisnall to finish 97 to hold.
1-1 - Chisnall this times opens with a maximum, but Lewis takes out 98 to avert a possible break of throw.
1-2 - Chisnall misses double 11 to finish 84, and Lewis breaks throw by landing tops.
1-3 - Double 18 sees Lewis win a third successive leg.
2-3 - Lewis fires in a 180 to leave 47, but Chisnall holds his nerve to take out a superb 130 on double five.
3-3 - Chisnall levels by breaking throw with a fine 116 checkout on tops.
4-3 - Chisnall posts his second 180 before finishing 104 on double 18 for a third ton-plus checkout in as many legs.
5-3 - Lewis misses three darts at double top and ten, allowing Chisnall in to finish 61 on double four to claim another break and a fourth successive leg.
6-3 - Chisnall opens with another maximum and finishes double 16 for a 14-darter to secure a minimum of a point.
6-4 - Chisnall fires in a 177 to leave 40, but misses three match darts to give Lewis a reprieve for two misses of his own, as the Stoke star returns to finish double one to keep the contest alive.
7-4 - Chisnall lands a fourth 180 to kick off the leg, and when needing 161 opts against throwing for the bull and instead leaves 40 - and though he initially misses three darts at tops for the match returns to land double ten to seal the win.
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
0-1 - Anderson fires in a 180 in the opening leg, and when van Barneveld misses double ten to finish 137, the World Champion lands double top for a 13-darter to break throw immediately.
0-2 - van Barneveld misses double 13 to finish 81, and Anderson takes out double ten for a 14-darter to continue his superb start.
0-3 - The reigning champion lands a 180 of his own but misses two darts at a double this time - at tops and double ten to finish 100 - to allow Anderson in to take out 125 with a showpiece bull, outer bull, bull combination to bring the Barclaycard Arena crowd to its feet.
0-4 - The pair both land 180s in the leg and miss three darts at doubles each before Anderson returns to punish the Dutchman once again, landing double five to claim a fourth straight leg.
1-4 - Double eight sees van Barneveld pick up his first leg of the game.
2-4 - van Barneveld lands a 180, and when Anderson misses tops and then bursts his score when aiming at double ten - hitting double 15 - the Dutchman breaks throw on double six.
3-4 - The reigning champion opens with a 180 and adds a 140 before finishing 76 on double 18 to reduce the gap to one leg.
4-4 - Anderson misses a dart at tops, and van Barneveld hits the same bed to finish an 80 combination as he levels the contest.
5-4 - The game takes another dramatic turn as van Barneveld moves ahead, punishing five missed doubles from Anderson by landing double four - in a let-off for four earlier missed doubles of his own.
5-5 - Anderson scores three 140s before finishing tops for a 13-darter to claim his first leg in six as he levels.
6-5 - Double 16 sees van Barneveld edge back ahead as he seals a minimum of a point.
7-5 - The duo trade 180s before Anderson misses double top and ten, and van Barneveld finishes double 16 to take a key victory.
James Wade v Stephen Bunting
1-0 - Wade pins tops to claim first blood in the opening leg.
1-1 - The 2009 champion misses one dart to break throw, and Bunting finishes 100 on double ten to level.
2-1 - Double ten sees Wade move back ahead.
2-2 - Bunting finishes 81 on double 12 to level the game.
2-3 - Bunting fires in a 180 before punishing three misses from Wade at double 12 by hitting double four to break for the first time.
3-3 - The pair trade maximums before Bunting is this time punished for two missed doubles as Wade lands double ten to level.
4-3 - Bunting posts another 180 but misses three doubles across two visits to allow Wade in on tops.
4-4 - Wade misses tops this time, allowing Bunting in to take out 101 to level.
5-4 - Wade is given a let-off for three missed doubles as he returns on double two.
5-5 - The pair trade 180s once again before Bunting finishes double 16 for a 12-dart leg to square the contest.
6-5 - Wade finishes 62 on double ten to secure at least a draw.
6-6 - Wade scores 180, 140 and 137 against the throw, but misses darts at double top and ten to claim the win, and Bunting claims a draw with a superb 120 checkout.
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
1-0 - van Gerwen finishes a 14-darter on double 16 to win the opening leg.
1-1 - Taylor takes out 89 for a 12-darter to level.
1-2 - van Gerwen misses a dart at double 18 to finish 76, allowing Taylor to break throw on double ten.
1-3 - Taylor lands double 16 to move two legs clear.
2-3 - van Gerwen fires in a 180 and takes out 48 to hit back with his first leg in four.
3-3 - The Dutchman lands a 180 for a second successive leg before finishing 88 on double 14 to break throw in 12 darts.
4-3 - van Gerwen moves back ahead with a brilliant 11-darter, scoring 180, 140 and 149 before finishing double eight to complete a superb leg.
5-3 - The pair trade 180s before van Gerwen takes out 102 on double 16 to claim another break of throw.
6-3 - van Gerwen hits a maximum for a fifth successive leg before taking out double eight, securing a point and taking his average to 112 in-running.
6-4 - Taylor lands double ten to keep his hopes alive - with van Gerwen waiting on 28.
7-4 - van Gerwen, with the advantage of throw, pins double 16 to seal the win, ending with a 112.91 average.
Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld
0-1 - Lewis misses tops to take the opening leg, and van Barneveld breaks with a superb 161 checkout.
0-2 - Double one sees the reigning champion move two legs up.
1-2 - Lewis takes out 132 on the bull to hit back.
1-3 - van Barneveld finishes 80 on tops to win a third leg.
2-3 - The Dutchman lands a 180, but Lewis takes out 132 once more to win his second leg of the game.
2-4 - van Barneveld hits back to restore his cushion.
2-5 - The Dutchman lands a 180 before being given a reprieve for two missed doubles as he returns on double seven for another break of throw.
2-6 - Double 16 sees van Barneveld seal at least a point, ensuring that he ends the night unbeaten from his two
2-7 - Lewis opens with a 180, but misses three darts to keep his hopes alive as van Barneveld steps in on double 15 to claim the win - moving himself up to third in the league table.