SIMON WHITLOCK was eliminated from the Betway Premier League Darts with a draw against Wes Newton in Dublin on Thursday, as Phil Taylor secured survival at The O2 and Michael van Gerwen ended Peter Wright's unbeaten run in the event.
Australian ace Whitlock, the 2012 finalist, went into his eighth league match needing to claim victory to keep alive his hopes of survival into next week's Judgement Night.
But despite hitting five 180s, Whitlock was only able to pick up a draw as Newton claimed up a point which could be key to his own survival going into Week Nine.
Earlier, Newton had lost 7-3 to Gary Anderson as the 2011 Premier League Darts champion ensured his own passage into the final weeks of the event, where he will now set his sights on claiming a Play-Off place.
Anderson continued his strong form as he picked up the victory - despite being on tenterhooks with partner Rachel at home in Somerset and due to give birth on Thursday.
Newton now faces a huge clash with Dave Chisnall in Cardiff next week, after being joined on six points in the league table by the World Grand Prix finalist after his draw with Adrian Lewis.
Chisnall and Lewis shared ten 180s and four ton-plus checkouts in a thrilling contest, with the Stoke ace taking out 134, 124 and 100 only to see the World Grand Prix runner-up follow an earlier 158 finish by landing double 18 to snatch a draw in the deciding leg.
While Chisnall, Newton and Thornton - who sat out the Dublin night after previously doubling up in Exeter in Newton's absence - will all be battling to avoid elimination alongside Whitlock next week, six-time Premier League Darts champion Phil Taylor pulled himself out of the struggle with a draw against Raymond van Barneveld.
Taylor had found himself in the midst of the battle at the foot of the table after losing his opening three games, but secured survival as he came from 5-3 down to claim a point against his great rival.
Van Barneveld's point meant that he had to settle for a draw for a fourth successive week, although he remains in third place in the league table.
Away from the tension of the games involving players at the lower end of the league table, top two Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright clashed as the Dutchman ended his rival's unbeaten start to the year in their rematch of January's World Championship final.
Showman Wright's attempt to play to the crowd when needing the bullseye to complete a 161 finish at two-all backfired as he missed and van Gerwen reeled off four successive legs.
The Scot hit back to 6-5, but van Gerwen secured victory with a brilliant 128 checkout in the game's deciding leg to move two points clear of his rival in the table.
Betway Premier League Darts
The O2, Dublin
Gary Anderson 7-3 Wes Newton
Adrian Lewis 6-6 Dave Chisnall
Wes Newton 6-6 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 7-5 Peter Wright
Phil Taylor 6-6 Raymond van Barneveld
All games are the best of 12 legs - first to seven, or six-all draw.
|After Week Eight|
|Michael van Gerwen|
|Raymond van Barneveld|
|Simon Whitlock (R)|
Gary Anderson v Wes Newton
0-1 - Newton lands the game's opening 180 only to initially miss two darts to finish 85, but when Anderson is off-target on tops to take out 76, the Fleetwood ace returns to pin double five to break throw immediately.
1-1 - Anderson this time lands tops for a 76 finish to level with a break back.
2-1 - Anderson fires in a 180 to leave 42, and posts double eight to move ahead.
3-1 - Anderson takes out 82 with a bulleye, double 16 combination.
3-2 - The pair trade 180s before Newton breaks back by finishing 58 on tops, after Anderson missed double top and ten to extend his lead.
4-2 - Anderson breaks back again, hitting a 180 to be the first to a double before returning from a missed bullseye to finish double eight.
4-3 - Double ten sees Newton move back to within a leg of the 2011 champion.
5-3 - Anderson lands a 168 score during the leg, and when Newton misses double 16 to finish 70, he steps in to post tops in moving to the brink of a point.
6-3 - Anderson takes out 96 on double top to earn a minimum of a draw.
7-3 - Newton pays the price for further missed doubles as Anderson takes out 72 on tops to secure the win.
|Gary Anderson||7-3||Wes Newton|
|5||Breaks of Throw||3|
|7/14 - 50%||Checkout %||3/12 - 25%|
Adrian Lewis v Dave Chisnall
0-1 - Lewis misses double ten for a 140 finish, allowing Chisnall back in from a miss to break in the opening leg.
1-1 - Lewis opens with a 180, and though Chisnall fires in two maximums of his own, the St Helens ace can only watch as he waits on 32 as Lewis pins the bull for a 124 finish.
2-1 - Lewis takes out 79 on double 11 to move ahead.
2-2 - Chisnall lands double 18 to level the game.
2-3 - Chisnall regains the lead with a sparkling 11-darter, opening with a 180 before taking out 86 in two darts to break.
3-3 - Lewis takes out a 134 finish with a showpiece finish of treble 18 and two double tops to level again.
4-3 - Lewis opens with a 180 and finishes 80 on tops to move back ahead as the lead changes hands again.
4-4 - Chisnall levels with a sensational 158 checkout, hitting two treble 20s and double 19.
5-4 - Lewis takes out 70 on tops to move back ahead.
5-5 - Lewis lands a fourth maximum of the game, but misses double 12 and Chisnall steps in to finish 85 on the bull to level the game.
6-5 - Lewis earns a minimum of a point by hitting a 180 and a 100 finish.
6-6 - Both players open the deciding leg with a maximum, before Chisnall takes out double 18 to claim a draw.
|Adrian Lewis||6-6||Dave Chisnall|
|2||Breaks of Throw||2|
|6/8 - 75%||Checkout %||6/7 - 86%|
Wes Newton v Simon Whitlock
0-1 - Whitlock makes an ideal start with a break of throw.
1-1 - Newton hits two 180s as he levels with a break.
2-1 - Whitlock fires in a maximumbut Newton moves ahead.
2-2 - Double one sees the Australian level.
3-2 - Double six edges Newton back ahead.
3-3 - Whitlock lands a 180 before finishing double four to square the game.
4-3 - The Australian misses tops and the same double sees Newton hold throw.
4-4 - Whitlock hits two 180s to Newton's one in the leg, and double eight sees the Australian level.
5-4 - Double ten moves Newton back in front.
5-5 - Whitlock finishes 65 on tops to level the game - but he needs to take the game's final two legs to keep alive his hopes of avoiding elimination.
6-5 - Newton fires in a 140 at a crucial time to leave 64, and takes out the finish in two darts to claim a point - ensuring that Whitlock will drop out of the tournament next week following Judgement Night.
6-6 - Newton leaves 81 after nine darts, but misses double 13 to claim the win as Whitlock follows a 168 score by landing double eight for a 13-darter to snatch a point.
|Wes Newton||6-6||Simon Whitlock|
|1||Breaks of Throw||1|
|6/13 - 46%||Checkout %||6/16 - 38%|
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
1-0 - van Gerwen takes out 97 in two darts for a 14-darter to open the game.
1-1 - Double eight sees Wright level.
2-1 - van Gerwen finishes 130 on double eight to move back ahead.
2-2 - Wright levels once more by finishing double 16.
3-2 - Wright misses the bull for a 161 finish - having encouraged the crowd to cheer on his attempt at the bullseye - to allow van Gerwen in to finish 84.
4-2 - van Gerwen breaks by finishing 68.
5-2 - van Gerwen lands a 180 and punishes missed doubles from Wright to hit tops.
6-2 - van Gerwen adds another maximum before posting an 88 finish to secure at least a point.
6-3 - The Dutch ace is unable to close out the win, and Wright keeps his hopes alive.
6-4 - Wright initially misses tops for a 120 finish but returns to continue his fightback.
6-5 - Wright misses the bull for a 132 finish, but returns to land double eight for a 14-darter to break and give himself a chance of grabbing a draw by sending the game into a deciding leg.
7-5 - van Gerwen opens with a 180 and claims victory with a brilliant 128 finish.
|Michael van Gerwen||7-5||Peter Wright|
|3||Breaks of Throw||2|
|7/15 - 47%||Checkout %||5/16 - 31%|
Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
0-1 - van Barneveld opens with a 14-darter to break throw, finishing 60 on tops.
1-1 - Taylor misses double five for a 130 finish, but van Barneveld is unable to post double 18 to take out 116 as the world number two returns on double two.
2-1 - Taylor opens with a 177 as he moves ahead.
2-2 - van Barneveld takes out a sensational 160 checkout to level.
2-3 - Taylor misses three darts at double 14, and the Dutchman breaks on double 16.
2-4 - van Barneveld posts his first 180 before taking out 121 on double 14 to move two legs clear.
3-4 - Taylor fires in double 18 to hit back.
3-5 - Double 16 sees van Barneveld hold throw to regain his two-leg lead.
4-5 - van Barneveld misses darts at double top and ten to secure a point as Taylor steps in to post tops.
5-5 - The Dutchman is again punished for a miss at tops, for a 108 finish, as Taylor hits the same bed to level the game with a break.
6-5 - van Barneveld opens with two 180s to set up a possible nine-darter, but he misses out on a perfect leg and then sees Taylor follow a maximum by finishing double ten for a 12-darter to secure at least a draw.
6-6 - van Barneveld lands his fourth 180s of the game, and returns from missing double 16 for a 109 finish to take out double eight to secure a point.
|Phil Taylor||6-6||Raymond van Barneveld|
|2||Breaks of Throw||2|
|6/18 - 33%||Checkout %||6/12 - 50%|