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Simon Whitlock took a giant step towards securing a spot in the McCoy’s Premier League play-offs with a comprehensive victory over Raymond van Barneveld at Bournemouth’s BIC.

Photo: Lawerence Lustig/PDC

‘The Wizard’ claimed his third successive victory to move onto the magic fourteen point mark, the amount thought to be enough to grab one of the four places on finals night in May.

Whitlock, who took out two ton-plus finishes, said: “I got two points and that’s the main thing, as it’s pushing me towards the final. There was a lot of pressure tonight because we were both fighting for a spot in the semis.

“I’ve got a tough run-in but I’m looking to get at least another win. I’m happy with how I’m playing, I’m smiling and I’m showing what I can do.”

‘Barney’ had almost brought the house down instantly, when he just missed double twelve for a 144 checkout. The Dutchman held his throw anyway, finding the bed with his second attempt.

Whitlock levelled up by hitting his first 180 before hitting double ten. ‘The Wizard’ hit double top to grab the first break of throw of the match, and he moved into a 3 – 1 lead with a brilliant 116 checkout.

The game-changing moment came when the Australian ace produced a moment of sheer class; taking out 155 to snatch another leg against the throw. Whitlock went into the break with a 5 -1 lead after van Barneveld just missed his double for a 117 finish.

‘Barney’ pulled a leg back by hitting double top to hold his throw, but missed the chance of a break when he failed to hit double eighteen twice, before ‘The Wizard’ stepped in to increase his lead to 6-2.

Van Barneveld hit his first maximum in the ninth leg, which he won with a neat 72 checkout. The five-time World Champion hit another 180 and punished his opponent for three missed darts at a double, hitting double two to break his opponents throw.

Whitlock responded by breaking back immediately, hitting his second maximum in the process. ‘The Wizard’ wasted no time in securing the victory, hitting double top to tighten his grip on second place.

By Chris Murphy

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