Thornton and Whitlock to open with wins
Football fans around the country were enjoying the excitement of the final day of the Championship season on Saturday and we could be set for a similar evening of nerves and tension as the group stage of the Premier League comes to an end in Newcastle.
There is one place left in the play-offs and three men must scrap for it on Thursday night with no clear favourite for taking the final spot going into the final round of matches. James Wade holds fourth place currently on 16 points having played 15 games, Robert Thornton is just a point behind him but has played one less and will take to the stage twice on Thursday and Simon Whitlock is a point behind Thornton but also has two games to play.
The first match on is of no relevance to anything really although as a repeat of the 2012 World Championship final, it may just prove to be a very decent game. Adrian Lewis has had a shocking Premier League mustering just seven points from 14 games whilst Andy Hamilton’s has been much more respectable although ultimately still unsuccessful.
One of Lewis’ only three wins came against the Hammer a few short weeks ago but he has gone on to lose six matches on the spin since then so confidence will be at a serious low for the Jackpot. Neither will want to suffer the embarrassment of ending on a loss as potentially there is a place in next year’s event to think about and it should be a close one. Either man to pinch it 7-5 or it to end in a draw looks about right, so over 11.5 legs at 6/5 with Sky Bet could be what we want.
The first match of significance comes next when Robert Thornton faces Raymond van Barneveld. Thornton plays twice in Newcastle, and only one win could see him into the play-offs but with his second match against MVG, he knows he needs to perform first up.
Barney has been in spectacular form of late though and has deservedly secured his place in the semi-finals. The pressure is off the big Dutchman, whereas for the first time really all tournament the pressure is certainly on the Thorn. He too has been in good touch though both in the Premier League and the floor events as he won the first Players Championship of the year on Saturday so this should be a high quality affair.
Their first meeting in the competition ended in a draw so it should be another close one but there has just been something about Thornton this year that makes you think he can pull a result out when he really has to. He is second favourite for this match and at 9/4 with Bet Victor looks great value.
Adrian Lewis’ night’s work is over fairly quickly as he returns to the stage next to take on Simon Whitlock who desperately needs a win to keep his hopes alive. Whitlock has been in great form in recent weeks which has really shown how poor his early season form was as four wins from his last five games and he is still out of the top four. Compare this form to that of Lewis though and it is chalk and cheese.
Jackpot has been so disappointing in the competition to date that it is difficult to see him beating anyone that has been showing good form and so the Wizard is the man to back here. The Aussie is odds-on, but with a -2.5 handicap he is out to 11/8 with Sky Bet and that looks great value.
Andy Hamilton v Adrian Lewis over 11.5 legs @ 6/5 with Sky Bet
Robert Thornton to win @ 9/4 with Bet Victor
Simon Whitlock (-2.5) to win @ 11/8 with Sky Bet