By Gareth James
Darts devotees, those who thirst for tungsten action, and anyone who loves a Welsh sporting rivalry – get a bit of this.
On Thursday night at London’s O2 Arena, Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton go head-to-head again in the Premier League Darts play-off climax.
It will be the sixth time they have met in the 17-week format of the competition, but the most significant with a £275,000 top prize at stake.
The night will involve the top four finishers of the weekly league, that includes Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith, as well as the two Welshmen.
Price plays Clayton in the first all-Dragonhood semi-final meeting, followed by Dutchman Van gerwen against England’s Smith.
It’s not often that darts players suffer injury scares – a burnt finger from the kitchen stove, possibly – but Van Gerwen genuinely had a shoulder problem he is trying to shake-off and which seemed to affect his throwing in Aberdeen a week ago.
No such worries for “Iceman” Price or “The Ferret”, Clayton who will snort fire at each other, before Smith faces Van Gerwyn.
Price finished top of the table but says: “I know Jonny will play a blinder against me, but I’m ready for him.
“Bar the first night, I have played well for most of this Premier League and things have gone well for me.
“I made nine finals out of the 16. I only won four, so I bombed a few of them. I should have won at least three more, so I feel my game is in a good place.
“The other three guys know that I’m playing well, but that doesn’t matter. It’s all about how well you play on the night.”
Sky Sports expert Wayne Mardle says of the big Welsh head-to-head, “They both seem to play decent against each other and after Clayton won a Pro Tour event at the weekend, he’s obviously feeling very good about himself.
“Price has shown better quality than anyone else in the Premier League this year so far and he’s shown it more often which is why he finished top of the table and appeared in nine finals… nine finals in 16 weeks. That’s incredible!
“He’s been a little clever after what happened with the ear defenders at the Worlds before playing poorly at The Masters and he didn’t start off particularly well in the Premier League until he played in Cardiff.
“That’s possibly turned his career around because before that night and even on that night, he was looking a little down.”
Finals Night in London: Thursday, May 25
Semi-Finals (Best of 19 legs)
Gerwyn Price vs Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith vs Michael van Gerwen
Final (Best of 21 legs)
Price/Clayton vs Smith/Van Gerwen