MICHAEL Smith admitted he was relieved after winning six successive legs in a comeback victory against Gary Anderson on his return to the Premier League, writes Andrew Simpson.

The St Helens star trailed 5-1 as the Scot, a two-time former champion, made the early running in Dublin on Thursday night.

However a fine 114 checkout by the 27-year-old sparked a stunning recovery that concluded later when he landed double ten to prevail 7-5.

“It took me until the fifth week to put a point on the board last time,” he said afterwards.

“So to get a win under my belt straightaway is good for me, and I can relax a bit now because it takes off some pressure.”

The rivals shared the first two legs before Smith wasted an opportunity to break his opponent’s throw in the third leg when he missed four darts at a double.

Anderson showed no mercy, taking the next leg on double 16 to lead 3-1 before finishes worth 108 and then 85 added to his advantage.

Smith landed that 114 to stop the rot, and later punished 10 fluffed attempts at double by the Scot in the ninth leg to make it 5-4.

A brace of tops finishes moved him in front before he pinned double 10 to complete the job.

Smith said: “I should have taken the third leg but he pinched it.

“He played well after that and his finishing was good, but I got my own back when he let me in during the seventh leg.

“I could see that he was struggling with his back, and it was I found that difficult to deal with because we’re close friends and part of you wants to help.

“At the same time, I’ve a job to do. I feel happy, and also gutted for him at the same time.”

Elsewhere Michael van Gerwen made an impressive start to the defence of his title with a 7-2 defeat of world champion Rob Cross, while Simon Whitlock edged out Mensur Suljovic in a thriller.

Raymond van Barneveld fought back from 6-3 down to claim a draw against Daryl Gurney after the debutant had missed three match darts.

Another first-timer, Welshman Gerwyn Price, rallied from 5-1 adrift to share the spoils with last year’s runner-up Peter Wright.

The Premier League resumes next Thursday at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, where Smith opens proceedings against Gurney.


Unibet Premier League

Week One

3Arena Dublin

Mensur Suljovic 5-7 Simon Whitlock

Gary Anderson 5-7 Michael Smith

Daryl Gurney 6-6 Raymond van Barneveld

Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Rob Cross

Peter Wright 6-6 Gerwyn Price