MICHAEL VAN GERWEN and Phil Taylor continue to set the pace in the Betway Premier League following big wins at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena on Thursday, as reigning champion Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and James Wade also picked up victories.
World number one van Gerwen's astonishing recent form continued as he averaged 113.47 in a 7-2 defeat of Dave Chisnall, a display which included checkouts of 134, 105 and 100 in successive legs.
The win was van Gerwen's fifth in a row this season and leaves him ahead of Taylor on leg difference ahead of their high-profile showdown in Glasgow next week, and after also retaining the UK Open title on Sunday the Dutchman admitted: "I'm playing fantastic darts and I'm happy with what I'm doing at the moment.
"I think I played a really good game tonight but I was consistent and I got the win, which is what you aim for. Of course I can do better, but I'm still at the top and I can't wait to play Phil next week because I always look forward to playing him.
"He's the greatest who ever lived but I'm challenging him at the moment."
Taylor condemned World Grand Prix champion Robert Thornton to a second 7-0 whitewash of the season with a ruthless display of his own, limiting the Scot to only three darts at a double in a dominant performance as he also won a fifth straight match.
"Robert didn't deserve to be whitewashed and he missed one or two doubles, but I had to go out and do a job and I did that tonight," said Taylor. "I'm gutted for Robert because he's such a nice guy and a good player and he's struggling a little bit, but he'll be back.
"It's another two points for me and I'm focusing on getting to the Play-Offs. I'm really looking forward to next week against Michael and I can't wait - I'll be ready for him."
Adrian Lewis bounced back from his 7-1 loss to Taylor last week in Exeter with a 7-3 win over Sunday's UK Open finalist Peter Wright, averaging 107.93 and taking out a key 136 checkout in a superb performance.
"Peter's been playing some fantastic darts recently so I knew I had to be up for the challenge and I came through it well," said Lewis. "I played really well and I'm happy with my performance.
"Last weekend wasn't a great weekend for me - I lost 7-1 to Phil in the Premier League and then went out in the UK Open to Jelle Klaasen but I played awfully all the way through really - but I put it right."
James Wade joined Lewis on eight points as he edged out Raymond van Barneveld 7-5, after the Dutchman missed three darts at doubles to snatch a draw in the game's deciding leg.
Van Barneveld followed up finishes of 104 and 118 with a brilliant 161 checkout as he pulled back to 5-3, but a key 121 bull finish from Wade gave him breathing space before he took out 82 to claim both points.
"It was a strange game and Raymond probably should have got a draw out of it," said Wade. "Fortunately he missed his darts at a double, although I did the same against Adrian a few weeks ago and threw away a draw in the same way.
"I'm kicking myself a little bit because I got so far in front early on, but I'm really happy to get the win."
World Champion Anderson claimed his third successive win to give himself breathing space from the elimination battle at the foot of the table with a 7-3 defeat of Michael Smith, the Premier League newcomer who was facing his mentor on stage for the first time.
Smith hit back from 4-1 down to trail by just one leg before Anderson took out a key 64 finish in leg nine before landing a brace of double ten checkouts to seal the win.
"I was really nervous about the game because I've said for years how good Michael is and he's still yet to show it on TV, and he was a little bit off tonight so it was good to get the win," said Anderson. "If Michael had won it he'd certainly have let me know about it!
"I'm pleased to have go the points because I'm still not happy with my performance and I'm still not throwing right, I'm lobbing them a little and it's got me puzzled but I'll keep plodding on."
Thornton now sits on one point at the foot of the league table, albeit with a game in hand, with Smith and Chisnall on three points and 2014 champion van Barneveld having claimed four points from his opening six games.
The Betway Premier League continues next Thursday at The Hydro in Glasgow, where Anderson will compete twice to play his game in hand after missing the season's opening night in Leeds through illness.
Thornton then plays twice in Liverpool before Judgement Night in Cardiff sees the bottom two players eliminated, leaving the remaining eight stars to battle for Play-Off places in the second half of the season.
Betway Premier League
Night Six - March 10
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Michael Smith 3-7 Gary Anderson
Peter Wright 3-7 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 5-7 James Wade
Robert Thornton 0-7 Phil Taylor
Dave Chisnall 2-7 Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith v Gary Anderson
0-1 - Smith misses double eight and four, allowing Anderson in to break with a 64 finish.
1-1 - Anderson posts a 180, but Smith lands double 18 to break throw.
1-2 - Smith misses double 18 to finish 144, and Anderson breaks once more by landing tops.
1-3 - Anderson hits a 174 before pinning double top again to claim the leg, despite Smith landing two 180s.
1-4 - Anderson once again lands tops, this time finishing 46, as he breaks throw for a third time.
2-4 - Smith lands a 180 and is handed a reprieve for two missed doubles when Anderson is off-target on double 12 for a 141 finish, allowing the former World Youth Champion back on double ten.
3-4 - Smith cuts the gap to just one leg by landing double top with his third dart.
3-5 - Another 64 finish from Anderson sees him edge clear of his rival.
3-6 - Anderson secures at least a point, opening with a 180 before landing double ten.
3-7 - Another double ten checkout seals a third successive victory for Anderson.
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
0-1 - Lewis takes out 24 to claim the opening leg against the throw.
0-2 - Wright lands a 180, but Lewis finishes double five to move two legs up.
1-2 - Wright fires in another maximum before posting double four.
1-3 - Tops sees Lewis restore his cushion.
2-3 - Wright lands a third 180 before double eight sees him respond.
2-4 - Lewis replies with a 180 before hitting double 16.
2-5 - Another Lewis maximum is followed by a sublime 136 checkout.
3-5 - Lewis hits another 180, but Wright takes out 90 on double 15 to hit back.
3-6 - Lewis seals at least a draw, following a fifth 180 by taking out double four to punish a miss at the same bed from Wright.
3-7 - Tops secures Lewis' fourth victory of the season.
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
0-1 - van Barneveld lands the game's first 180, but Wade finishes 101 to claim the opener against the throw.
0-2 - Wade pins double 12 to double his lead.
1-2 - van Barneveld posts another maximum before finishing 104 to punish a missed bull from the left-hander.
1-3 - The 2014 champion misses two darts at double 18 to level, allowing Wade back in double ten to regain his cushion.
1-4 - Wade takes out 84 on double 12 to move three legs clear with another break of throw.
1-5 - Another miss from van Barneveld, at double 16, allows Wade in on double ten.
2-5 - van Barneveld responds with another ton-plus finish, taking out 118 on double 19.
3-5 - Wade fires in his third 180 of the game to leave 24, but can only watch on as the Dutchman finishes a sensational 161 finish, bringing a capacity crowd to its feet.
3-6 - The game sees a fifth ton-plus finish in nine legs, as Wade kicks off with a 180 before taking out 121 on the bull to secure at least a point from the match.
4-6 - Wade misses double top for the match, allowing van Barneveld in on double 12 to keep his hopes alive of snatching a draw.
5-6 - The Dutchman lands a 180 before returning on tops to send the game into a deciding 12th leg.
5-7 - van Barneveld is first to a double, but misses double seven and two darts at double two to grab a point, allowing Wade in to finish 82 on double 16 to finally claim both points.
Robert Thornton v Phil Taylor
0-1 - Taylor lands two 180s as he takes the opening leg.
0-2 - The 16-time World Champion holds throw to double his advantage.
0-3 - Taylor kicks off with a 180, and when Thornton misses double top and ten he steps in to finish 56 on tops to break throw for a second time.
0-4 - Taylor again opens with a 180 before finishing double eight to win a fourth straight leg.
0-5 - Thornton hits a 180, but Taylor finishes double 17 to continue his dominant display.
0-6 - Taylor lands a 174 score before taking out 32 to secure a minimum of a point.
0-7 - Taylor ruthlessly completes victory, starting with his fifth 180 of the game before finishing double four to claim a fifth straight win.
Dave Chisnall v Michael van Gerwen
0-1 - van Gerwen kicks off the game with a 180 before landing tops for an 11-darter.
1-1 - Chisnall opens with 140 and 180 before hitting double ten to level.
1-2 - van Gerwen lands a 168 score before taking out a sensational 134 checkout to break throw for a second time.
1-3 - The Dutchman opens with a 177 before checking out 105 to move two legs clear.
1-4 - van Gerwen lands a third successive ton-plus checkout by taking out 100.
1-5 - van Gerwen kicks off with a 177 score for a second time, before double 15 wins him a fifth leg.
2-5 - Chisnall opens with a maximum of his own before being handed a let-off for five missed doubles as he returns on double five, after van Gerwen misses double 14 and seven.
2-6 - The pair trade 180s before double 12 seals at least a point for van Gerwen.
2-7 - van Gerwen's third 180 of the game is followed by double 16 to complete another brilliant victory with a 113.47 average.