The Darts Column – By Polly James

Price And Clayton Continue To Lead The Welsh Charge As The Competition Heats Up

Wales’ darts players are continuing to impress on the world stage, with Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton leading the way in both the Premier League and the PDC Pro Tour.

Price has really begun to find his stride in the last couple of weeks, following his excellent Premier League win in Cardiff. The mini-tournament format saw him beat off the world best, decked out in a new red shirt where he eventually beat Nathan Aspinall 6-3 in the final in front of adoring Welsh fans! What a dream homecoming and certainly something Gezzy needed in the bag.

I think he was always quietly confident that he would soon be back to his winning ways. It’s always nice to get a victory and a few points on that Premier League board early on and now with a win under his belt, the Markham ace fell to a 6-3 defeat to reigning World Champion Michael Smith during night three of the PDC Premier League in Glasgow, but soon put that disappointment behind him the following week in Dublin, reaching the final on night four. He beat heavyweights Dimitri van den Bergh and Michael Smith on his way to the final. And in the final showdown, he quickly went 5-2 up racing to the finish line but in true Michael van Gerwyn fashion, the Dutchman fought back to win the tie 6-5, after the Welshman missed match darts to lose the game. Albeit a narrow defeat, Gezzy said the crowd were fantastic, a real rarity for him. Must have been another new shirt in green he donned for his Irish contingency.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, our other Welshman is currently plying his trade; Jonny Clayton has improved his form in recent weeks, despite a poor start.

After a disappointing first two weeks in the Premier League, ‘the Ferret’ picked up his first points of the tournament in Glasgow. Clayton took two points with an emphatic 6-1 win against Chris Dobey in the quarter final, before falling to Smith for the second time in two weeks in the semi-final.

Clayton picked up another crucial two points the following week in Dublin, beating Nathan Aspinall 6-4, before once again falling at the semi-final stage. This time, it was the in-form Michael van Gerwen who ruined any hope of an all-Welsh final in Ireland with that eventual comeback win against Gezzy.

Looking to the PDC Pro Tour, the Welsh darts contingent continue to impress. Price reached the semi-final of the Players Championship 3. The Iceman beat Andrew Gilding 6-5 in an exciting quarter final, but fell to a disappointing 7-3 loss against Belgian, Kim Huybrechts.

Clayton also enjoyed a good run in the championship, beating Martin Lukeman 6-1 in the round of 32 before falling to a 6-4 defeat against Gian van Veen in the Last 16.

The Welsh success didn’t end there, with Jim Williams also reaching the third round, while Rob Owen and Lewy Williams both fell at the second-round stage.

Williams went on to be Wales’ best performer in Barnsley, where he reached the quarter finals of the Players Championship 4 in impressive fashion.

‘The Quiff’ has been enjoying an impressive few months after reaching the last 16 of the PDC World Championship, losing to the eventual finalist, Gabriel Clemens 4-3.

Williams continued his good form by qualifying for the German Grand Prix alongside Price, Clayton and Owen during what was an impressive day of qualifying in Barnsley. The 38 year-old beating Nick Kenny and Stephen Bunting to book his sport in Munich.

In the WDF Scottish Open, Wales were once again on the forefront with Mark Graham and Dafydd Edwards winning the Men’s pairs event.

It was a positive tournament for Wales women as well, with Rhian O’Sullivan and Lorraine Hyde backing up the men’s win with another superb Welsh win in the ladies’ doubles event.

There may have been no title for Rhian O’Sullivan, who finished as the runner-up in the ladies’ singles event, but the darts player from Swansea has been enjoying an excellent start to the PDC Women’s Series, and a title can’t be too far away as she is on course to qualify for the women’s World Matchplay with just eight events to go.