Simon Whitlock knocked Adrian Lewis out of the McCoy’s Premier League Darts with a thrilling comeback from 5-2 down to end the World Champion’s hopes of claiming a Play-Off place.
Lewis had to take victory in the pair’s last league game if he was to keep alive his hopes of improving on last year’s run to the final – but saw his hopes crushed by the Australian.
Whitlock is now assured of finishing in second place after winning half of his 14 league games, as he prepares to challenge for the £150,000 title at The O2 in London next week.
“I was already in the semi-finals but I wanted to win tonight to make sure that I avoided Phil Taylor in the semi-finals, so I’m over the moon to have done that,” said Whitlock.
“Adrian was fantastic early on but I hung in there and when I was 5-2 down it took a lot of bottle to come back from there. I dug deep and the darts went in for me.
“The McCoy’s Premier League this year has been the hardest ever, so I’m delighted to have finished second but I’ve got two steps left now; to reach the final and then go on and win it.”
The pair traded 180s in sharing the opening two legs, with Lewis hitting tops for a 13-darter before Whitlock finished 92 on the same double to level before the World Champion took command.
Lewis. known as Jackpot, punished a missed double 16 from Whitlock to win the third on tops, before finishing 88 on the bull and 38 on double eight to move 4-1 up.
Whitlock fired in a 130 checkout, hitting the bull himself, to win the sixth but Lewis posted a 12-darter to move three legs clear again at 5-2.
Lewis also opened the eighth leg with five successive treble 20s, hitting a 180 and 123, only to see Whitlock reply with a maximum before taking out 77 for a 14-darter.
The Australian then punished a miss at tops from Lewis by landing double eight before levelling by following a 180 in the next with a nervy double one checkout.
Lewis hit a 180 and tops to regain the lead at 6-5, with Whitlock landing a maximum and double eight to square the contest.
Lewis left himself 69 in the 13th leg as he sought to seal at least a draw, but was dramatically denied a chance as Whitlock powered in a 140 checkout to move 7-6 up and lead for the first time, before sealing victory on double 16 to end the Stoke star’s Play-Off ambitions.