Dave Chisnall survived elimination from the Betway Premier League Darts with victory over good friend Wes Newton on Judgement Night in Cardiff on Thursday night.
The pair went into the league’s crucial ninth night bidding to avoid elimination alongside Simon Whitlock and it was the Morecambe ace who prevailed with a 7-5 win at the Motorpoint Arena as Newton was sent packing for a second successive year.
Chisnall made a superb start by winning the game’s opening two legs, only for Newton to win the next four as he took command in moving 4-2 up - only to then miss three darts in each of the next two legs as his opponent levelled.
The next two were shared before a crucial break of throw put Chisnall 6-5 up and secured him the point which sealed his survival - before he hit double five to claim victory and knock out the Fleetwood ace.
Premier League debutant Chisnall said: “It was one of the toughest games I’ve ever played and we both felt the pressure, so I’m over the moon to have survived.
“We’re great friends and I felt a bit for Wes, but when he went 4-2 up he let me back in.
“Once I got the sixth leg I knew I could relax and I got the last leg, and to get both points could be important for me now at the end of the season.
“I believe that I can get into the top four if I can hit my doubles because when I’ve been missing they’ve not been far away, and I feel really comfortable on the Premier League stage now.”
Newton admitted: “It’s very disappointing but I’ve got to take it on the chin, and I’ll come back stronger from this.
“Dave came out firing and I had a bad start, but I got back into it and took control of the game at 4-2 up, and then had three darts to win each of the next two legs and all of a sudden it was four-all.
“There was a lot of pressure on that game for both of us and I’ve found it really tough this season.
“This is the elite of the game and it’s a learning curve - you’re up there week-in, week-out in front of massive crowds and hopefully it will make me a better player in the future.
“I’m so grateful to be given the chance to be in the Premier League and it’s not worked out, but I’ll go back to the drawing board and do my best in the TV events for the rest of the year.”
Elsewhere, Newton’s defeat meant that Robert Thornton, who also entered Judgement Night on six league points but with better leg difference than his basement rivals, survived into the second phase of the campaign despite a 7-4 defeat to Phil Taylor.
Michael van Gerwen consolidated his status at the top of the table with a 6-6 draw against Simon Whitlock, as the Australian bowed out of the tournament with arguably his best display of the season.
Peter Wright sits a point behind van Gerwen after he bounced back from last week’s defeat to the Dutchman with a 7-5 win over Gary Anderson while the night’s other game saw Raymond van Barneveld draw for a fifth successive week, as he hit back from 4-1 down to share the points with Adrian Lewis.
The remaining eight players will now face each other once more over the next seven league nights, before the top four progress to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 22.
Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena will host the tenth league night next Thursday.