Simon Whitlock 13-17 Raymond van Barneveld (1 draw)
Simon Whitlock demolished current PDC World Champion Rob Cross 7-1 last week in Cardiff to make it two wins out of two in the 2018 Premier League so far for the Australian number one.
Although it was a convincing win for Whitlock, his overall performance was quite a bit below the levels he produced during his victory over Suljovic in week one. His average was 13 points lower and he also missed 11 darts at a double during the week two win over Cross.
Whitlock’s best performance during the three UK Open qualifying tournaments played last weekend was a run to the last 16 on the Saturday where he lost out to the eventual champion Corey Cadby. He lost out in last leg deciders in the earlier rounds during the other two tournaments.
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD
Raymond van Barneveld battled to a hard fought 7-5 win against Mensur Suljovic in week two in his second consecutive match that required the full 12 legs to reach a conclusion.
Van Barneveld had his nose in front for most of the match having taken the initiative with a 167 finish in the fourth leg. the match was taken all the way when Suljovic broke the Van Barneveld throw in the penultimate leg of the match to force a decider but Barney held his nerve to take the final leg against the darts.
In what was a high scoring encounter against Suljovic, Barney averaged over 100 for most of his match against Suljovic who himself was averaging over 100 throughout.
These are two very experienced players who ARE looking to build on their unbeaten starts to the 2018 Premier League. Simon Whitlock has exceeded all expectations over the opening two weeks to claim two wins from two matches; his display against Cross last week certainly didn’t reach the levels he produced against Suljovic but he did what needed to be done and comfortably punished a below-par opponent.
Raymond van Barneveld upped his performance in week two - especially on his checkouts - and the way he has held his nerve in winning the twelfth and final leg in both matches bodes well for his chances. It is the Dutchman who holds an overall lead in their head-to-head win record, and this is their first meeting since November 2016 when Whitlock ended a six-match losing streak against Barney.
It’s a tough game to predict but the big Dutchman may just have what it takes to maintain his unbeaten start to the Premier League season with victory over the Wizard here.