PETER WRIGHT moved two points clear at the top of the Betway Premier League table with a comeback win over James Wade in Dublin on Thursday, as Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld thrilled a sell-out crowd at the 3Arena.
Wright is the only player with a perfect record following three weeks of the new Premier League season, having followed up his opening two wins with a high-quality 7-4 victory over Wade, averaging over 104 in a superb display.
Wade produced some fine darts as he took an early 3-1 lead, but Wright fired in a 13-darter to fire his challenge and pulled clear with a 161 checkout before sealing the points.
"James wasn't quite on his game and I took advantage," said Wright. "I was very nervous at the start and I started pretty slowly, but I felt confident and the darts came in the end.
"I felt pretty comfortable and the practice I've put in this week has paid off there. I'm happy, but I'm still not at my best and I know there's more to come."
2013 Premier League champion van Gerwen picked up a second successive win as he averaged 106.40 in a fine 7-4 win over Adrian Lewis in another thrilling contest.
Lewis hit back from an early 2-0 deficit to lead 4-3, but van Gerwen found an extra gear to reel off four straight legs and end the Stoke ace's winning start to the season.
"I really enjoyed the game," said van Gerwen. "It was a really important game for both of us and I think I played well, and I did enough to make sure my confidence keeps growing.
"At a couple of moments I wasn't too sure about my game but I did the right thing at the right moments. I did well and I'm really pleased with these two points."
Six-time Premier League champion Taylor condemned World Champion Gary Anderson to a second successive defeat with a 7-4 victory in their clash, winning four of the final five legs to claim his second straight win.
"I'm happy with the performance and to get the two points," said Taylor. "I'm really pleased with that because you know you've got to play well against Gary.
"You've got to go out and perform and I was consistent there. The crowd were fantastic and they loved it, so it was a good night all round."
2014 Premier League winner van Barneveld, meanwhile, hit checkouts of 116 and 153 against Robert Thornton, who took out 145 himself but missed one dart to snatch a draw in the game's final leg before the Dutchman edged to the win.
"I'm happy with the win," admitted van Barneveld. "I played a poor last leg but he missed his chance and let me in.
"Robert always comes back at you and he did again there - and he nearly got a draw. I'm happy with the performance and two points is really important right now because this is an open competition and everyone can beat everyone."
Youngster Michael Smith picked up his first Premier League point as he bounced back from three defeats in the opening two weeks by claiming a draw with Dave Chisnall in a see-saw encounter.
"That was a hard game so I'm pleased to get a point," said Smith. "Dave's a great friend and I think for the first two legs I was playing my mate up there but I gave it everything I've got.
"I missed a couple of darts to go 4-2 up and I did the same last week and got punished by James Wade, but I got back into it tonight and then Dave let me back in to go 6-5 up.
"Then I went and hit a 30 with my second score in the last leg and that killed me. I hit the 180 but then Dave checked out the 81 but I'm pleased now that I've got a point on the board and I know I've got a lot of improvement in me."
Chisnall produced two 11-dart finishes during the game, but admitted: "It feels like a point lost to me.
"When you go 6-5 down you're always happy to get a point, but I'd missed those doubles in the 11th. The 11-darter in the final leg was great.
"It was tough to play Michael and I think he'll get better. I started off well but it was a bit frustrating after that and I'm a little disappointed. I'll take the point and move on to next week."
The Betway Premier League season continues next Thursday with Night Four at the GE Oil & Gas Arena in Aberdeen.
Betway Premier League
Night Three - February 18
Peter Wright 7-4 James Wade
Dave Chisnall 6-6 Michael Smith
Phil Taylor 7-4 Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen 7-4 Adrian Lewis
Robert Thornton 5-7 Raymond van Barneveld
Peter Wright v James Wade
0-1 - Wade breaks throw immediately by landing double ten.
0-2 - Wade fires in a 162 score before finishing double six for a 14-darter to move two legs up.
1-2 - Wade lands a 180, but double six sees Wright claim his first leg of the contest.
1-3 - A third-dart double top sees Wade restore his two-leg cushion.
2-3 - The pair trade 180s before Wright finishes double 16 for a 13-darter to pull another leg.
3-3 - Wright levels the match by finishing double 16 to break.
4-3 - The colourful star finishes double four to win a third successive leg.
5-3 - Wright fires in his second 180 of the game before taking out a brilliant 161 checkout for a 12-darter to break throw and move two legs clear.
6-3 - Wright posts a third maximum before sealing a fifth straight leg by taking out 98 for a 12-darter to secure a minimum of a point.
6-4 - Wade's third 180 is followed by double ten as he continues his challenge.
7-4 - Wright takes out double top to complete a high-quality win, averaging 104.48 to claim a third successive victory.
Dave Chisnall v Michael Smith
1-0 - Chisnall kicks off the game with a 180 before finishing double three to claim the opening leg.
2-0 - Chisnall tees up a potential nine-darter with two 180s, and though he misses a seventh treble 20 he returns to mop up the leg with a brilliant 11-darter on double four.
2-1 - Smith hits back by landing double top to complete a solid 14-dart finish as he breaks throw.
2-2 - Double ten sees Smith level the contest, having weathered Chisnall's superb start.
2-3 - Smith fires in his first 180 before taking out tops to move ahead with a third successive leg.
3-3 - Chisnall hits his fourth maximum of the contest, and is given a reprieve for a miss at double 18 by returning to hit the bed to punish Smith's misses at double top and ten.
4-3 - Chisnall regains the lead by finishing 80 on double five to claim a second successive leg.
4-4 - Smith posts another 180 to give himself the breathing space to recover from three initial misses at tops to return and hit the bed to level.
5-4 - Chisnall fires in his fifth maximum of the game before landing tops to edge back in front.
5-5 - Smith follows his third 180 with tops to square the contest.
5-6 - Smith capitalises on Chisnall's three missed doubles by stepping in on tops to secure his first Betway Premier League point.
6-6 - Chisnall scores three successive 140s before Smith fires in a fourth 180, but the youngster can only watch on as the 2015 semi-finalist takes out double 12 for an 11-darter to grab a draw.
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
1-0 - Taylor lands the game's first 180 before finishing double eight to win the opening leg.
1-1 - Anderson kicks off with a 174 score before landing tops as he levels.
2-1 - Taylor clinically picks off a 101 checkout to hold throw once again.
2-2 - Anderson again replies, firing in his first 180 before taking out 96 on double 18.
3-2 - Double 18 edges Taylor back in front.
3-3 - Taylor lands his second 180 but pays for four missed darts at double seven, allowing Anderson in on double nine to hold throw and level.
4-3 - Taylor fires in a 180 and double four to move ahead once more.
5-3 - Taylor misses the bull to take out 161, but returns on double eight to break throw.
5-4 - Anderson breaks back, hitting a 180 and finishing 61 on double 18.
6-4 - Taylor's miss at the bull for a 167 finish is followed by Anderson missing the middle double to complete a 158 checkout, and the six-time Premier League champion returns on double eight to claim at least a point.
7-4 - Taylor completes victory by posting double 16 to claim a second successive win.
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
1-0 - van Gerwen lands a 180 before finishing double 16 for a 13-darter to make a superb start.
2-0 - Lewis opens leg two with a 180, but van Gerwen replies with another maximum before taking out 87 to break throw.
2-1 - Lewis lands his second 180 before hitting a third-dart double six to break back with his first leg of the game.
2-2 - Lewis is handed a let-off for a miss at double 11 when van Gerwen wires double 16, allowing the Stoke ace back in to finish double four as he levels.
3-2 - Double ten sees van Gerwen move back ahead.
3-3 - van Gerwen fires in a 180 but is punished for failing to give himself a dart at a double when on 81 as Lewis hits double ten to square the contest.
3-4 - Lewis breaks throw with a superb leg, following a 180 with a two-dart 85 finish to move ahead for the first time.
4-4 - Double 16 sees van Gerwen square the match with a break in reply.
5-4 - Lewis opens with a 180, but van Gerwen's double 16 sees him edge back into the lead.
6-4 - van Gerwen posts 180 to leave 47, and when Lewis misses a dart at double 16 to finish 91 the Dutchman steps in to hit the same bed to seal at least a draw.
7-4 - van Gerwen kicks off with his fifth 180 of the game, with Lewis wiring the bull for a spectacular 164 finish to keep the game alive before the Dutch star takes out double ten for a 14-darter to seal the points.
Robert Thornton v Raymond van Barneveld
0-1 - van Barneveld finishes 116 to claim the opening leg with a break of throw.
0-2 - van Barneveld fires in a 180 and tops for a 13-darter to double his lead.
1-2 - The pair trade 180s before Thornton steps in to punish van Barneveld's two missed doubles by taking out 64 on double eight.
1-3 - van Barneveld hits his third 180 before scrambling home double one.
2-3 - Thornton produces a brilliant 145 checkout to hit back.
2-4 - An 81 finish sees van Barneveld regain his two-leg cushion.
3-4 - The pair trade 180s before Thornton lands double six to hit back.
3-5 - van Barneveld powers in a thrilling 153 checkout to delight the capacity 9,000 crowd.
4-5 - Thornton hits tops to respond once more.
4-6 - van Barneveld lands a superb two-dart 87 finish to earn a minimum of a point with a superb 11-darter.
5-6 - Double ten keeps Thornton's hopes alive as he sends the game into a deciding leg.
5-7 - The tension rises in the final leg, with van Barneveld missing tops to finish 145 before Thornton misses the same bed to snatch a draw, allowing the Dutchman back in on double five to take the victory.