Joe Cullen holds nerve in make-or-break Peter Wright battle
Joe Cullen kept his cool under intense pressure to dump world champion Peter Wright out of the Premier League and secure a play-off spot in Berlin.
The pair went into their match in Newcastle, the final night of the regular season, knowing the winner of their quarter-final would seal a play-off place and join Jonny Clayton, Michael van Gerwen and James Wade in the German capital on June 13. Both played their part in a tense and absorbing contest, but Cullen’s superb finishing, particularly on double 16, saw him over the line.
All of the first nine legs went with throw, although there were some scares along the way. Wright went close to breaking in the seventh leg, almost taking out 161. The ninth leg, on Cullen’s throw, was key. Wright looked set to pinch it and needed double 18 after just nine darts. But Cullen held his nerve to brilliantly take out 105 before he got the chance.
Buoyed by that escape, Cullen finally forced the only break of the match, taking out 49. In a brilliant display of finishing from both players, just two doubles were missed in the entire match.
After sealing victory, Cullen punched the air with delight before a lukewarm handshake with the dejected Wright, who had vowed to win the tournament earlier this month, despite his patchy form.
Speaking immediately after the match, Cullen told Sky Sports: “The Premier League has been so erratic for me this year but I felt so comfortable tonight.
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“It’s really strange. There’s weeks when I’ve been under no pressure and I’ve not played great. Then, under this amount of pressure, I produced that. It wasn’t the greatest average but if you can finish like that, you give yourself a chance.
“I’ve been working towards the Premier League for a long, long time. To get in was amazing. To qualify, on the last night as well, it was like judgement night.”
In the semi-finals, Cullen faced Jonny Clayton, who edged out a spirited Gary Anderson 6-5 in the first match of the night.
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