Peter Wright made it back to the World Darts Championship final for the first time since 2014 after producing the goods to defeat Gerwyn Price 6-3 at Alexandra Palace on Monday night.
Wright averaged 98.39, hitting 31 140s and 16 maximums as he swept past beleaguered Price to return to the New Year’s Day showpiece.
“Before the match me and Gezzy were winding each other up. He said he was going to win the first two sets and I would change darts, I like him but I don’t appreciate what he did. He wanted me to concentrate and I did, there you go, you lost,” the Scot told Sky Sports Darts.
The contest opened with a 21-dart hold of throw for Price before the Welshman struck the 800th maximum of the tournament in the third leg. It went to a deciding leg in which Wright pummelled a 180 and then cleaned up 81 for a clinical 11-darter against the throw with a majestic 104.03 average to boot in the race to six sets.
They left the stage for a break with Wright nudging Price and chuckling. The Scot had predicted that quarter-final opponent Glen Durrant would emerge victorious against the Welsh ace on Sunday.
“Peter thought I was going to lose 5-2, and now I’m going to smash him 6-0,” laughed Price during an interview. “Me and Peter get on brilliantly [but] I think he was trying to get into my head.”
‘Snakebite’ returned to the stage landing a showstopping 131 with two double tops at the start of the next. Price, a two-time Grand Slam of Darts champion, appeared agitated, but scrapped his way to a deciding leg in which he took in 15 darts before bouncing about on the stage with pure glee in front of his opponent.
Former Rugby League player Price flexed his muscles in the third set, taking out a ton in two darts in leg four to move 2-1 up in sets.
Wright, who shrugged off a recent bout of illness and keep his own hopes of a first world title alive, struck back with a clean sweep of legs to make it 2-2 in an Ally Pally hotbed of noise and colour.
Wright made it five legs on the spin before Price stopped the rot in a gripping contest. But the 49-year-old Scot moved 3-2 ahead after taking the deciding leg in 12 darts.
New Year’s Day Final (1900 GMT) Peter Wright vs Michael van Gerwen or Nathan Aspinall
In a clash which was lacking any rhythm, ‘The Iceman’ stayed cool to restore parity at 3-3 despite a 92 average and 30 per cent on doubles.
Wright, the 2014 finalist, edged another deciding leg in the seventh set by sinking double 12 with his last dart in hand and he took out 47 in the fourth leg of the next to open a two-set cushion at 5-3 for the first time in the match.