HUMPHRIES DOMINATES IN DUBLIN TO SECURE PREMIER LEAGUE HAT-TRICK

Luke Humphries continued his scintillating form with a third consecutive nightly victory in the BetMGM Premier League in Dublin on Thursday.

The world number one arrived in the Irish capital fresh from wins in Brighton and Nottingham, and he maintained his dominance with Night Eight success in the Emerald Isle.

Humphries recorded a trio of ton-topping averages to scoop the £10,000 bonus prize, defeating Peter Wright, Nathan Aspinall and Michael Smith to extend his lead at the top of the table to seven points.

The 29-year-old opened Thursday’s proceedings with a comprehensive 6-1 success against Peter Wright, averaging 106 and producing two stunning ton-plus checkouts in the process.

This set the tone for another memorable night for the World Champion, who crashed in six 180s to overcome a spirited Nathan Aspinall in the semi-finals, in a repeat of last week’s Nottingham final.

Humphries then produced another merciless display to topple Smith in the evening’s showpiece, kicking off the contest with legs of 12, 13 and 11 darts to threaten a record-breaking average.

Smith converted 113 and 125 combinations to win his two legs, although it wasn’t enough to deny Humphries a ninth consecutive victory in the Premier League.

“I’m really enjoying myself,” said the Newbury-born star, who could become the first player in Premier League history to win four successive nights with victory in Belfast next week.

“At the start of the season it felt really tough for me, but now I’m enjoying the game, and that’s when I’m at my best.

“I feel much more comfortable now. I feel like I belong here, and the last three weeks have just been fantastic.

“I know I’m not unbeatable, but I feel like I’m playing at a level where it’s going to take a big performance to beat me.

“I loved tonight. It was the loudest crowd I’ve ever played in front of. The atmosphere was incredible.

“As I said last week, I have got Irish heritage in my family, and I’m sure my Mum will be super-proud tonight, so it’s a really special feeling.”

Despite Humphries’ heroics, it was another positive night for Smith, who won through high-quality encounters against Luke Littler and Gerwyn Price to advance to his third nightly final of the campaign.

The 2023 World Champion recovered from 3-1 down to sink Littler in the last eight, winning five of the last six legs to secure his third win over the teenager in four meetings.

Smith then survived a match dart to deny Price in a captivating semi-final showdown, firing in six 180s and sealing the deal with a nerveless 104 checkout in the decider.

Earlier in the night, Price ended his run of four straight defeats with a thrilling deciding-leg win over Michael van Gerwen, avenging his defeat to the Dutchman in last year’s Dublin decider.

The Welshman averaged 102 and crashed in six maximums to inflict a fourth consecutive defeat on Van Gerwen for the first time in Premier League history.

Aspinall also won through a last-leg shoot-out in the quarter-finals, sealing a fourth straight win over Rob Cross in a high-quality contest which saw both players average 101.

The BetMGM Premier League continues at Belfast’s SSE Arena on Thursday March 28, as Humphries renews his rivalry with Littler in the evening’s opening quarter-final.

Van Gerwen will aim to return to winning ways when he plays Smith, Price meets Aspinall, while Wright and Cross also lock horns for a place in the semi-finals.

2024 BetMGM Premier League

Night Eight, Thursday March 21

3Arena, Dublin

Quarter-Finals

Luke Humphries 6-1 Peter Wright

Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Rob Cross

Gerwyn Price 6-5 Michael van Gerwen

Michael Smith 6-4 Luke Littler

Semi-Finals

Luke Humphries 6-4 Nathan Aspinall

Michael Smith 6-5 Gerwyn Price

Final

Luke Humphries 6-2 Michael Smith

Night Nine – SSE Arena, Belfast

Thursday March 28

Quarter-Finals

Luke Humphries v Luke Littler

Michael Smith v Michael van Gerwen

Nathan Aspinall v Gerwyn Price

Rob Cross v Peter Wright

Photos credit Steven McAuley/PDC

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