MX23RW : Tuesday, February 19 15:42:32

Result: Van Gerwen starts bid for fourth successive Premier League crown with victory

Result: Van Gerwen starts bid for fourth successive Premier League crown with victory
© Reuters
The Dutchman beat Michael Smith in a repeat of last year's final.

Michael Van Gerwen's quest for a fourth consecutive Premier League title started with a 7-5 win over Michael Smith in Newcastle.

With a back injury forcing Gary Anderson to withdraw from the tournament earlier this week, Smith was seen as Van Gerwen's closest challenger.

Smith had a year to remember in 2018, reaching the Premier League and World Championship finals, but was beaten on both occasions by Van Gerwen.

And the world number one continued his recent dominance over Smith on the opening night of the new campaign, averaging 104.98 and hitting five 180s.

The Dutchman was forced to hold off some strong resistance from the 29-year-old, who had fought back from 4-2 down to give himself a sniff of claiming a draw in the deciding leg.

Raymond Van Barneveld's final Premier League campaign before retirement started with a 7-4 defeat to the in-form James Wade, who was beaten by Van Gerwen in the final of the Masters last weekend.

Chris Dobey, the first 'contender' to replace Anderson this campaign, blew a 5-1 lead before holding his nerve at the death to salvage a 6-6 draw with Mensur Suljovic.

Gerwyn Price secured his first-ever Premier League win in his second campaign, beating Daryl Gurney 7-4 with a 104 average, while Rob Cross sealed a 6-6 draw with Peter Wright in the final match of the night.

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Michael van Gerwen in action in March 2016
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