Michael Smith took the honours in the all Unicorn clash on the opening night of the Premier League in Dublin.

But he admitted afterwards that the victory was hard to take against his mentor. Anderson was again struck down by the debilitating back problem which has troubled him for some time.

Anderson led 5-1 but was struggling to walk and Smith incredibly won six straight legs.

“I really feel for Gary,” he said. “I could see he was in a lot of pain. That made it difficult for me because I didn’t want to win like that.”

Both hit three 180s in the opening six legs but it was Anderson who took control as he nailed finishes of 86, 108 and 85 on the bull to go 5-1 up. Then his back took a turn for the worse and so did his darts. In total he blew 21 darts at doubles.

He missed three at D14 and D7 to guarantee a point at 6-1 and Smith just kept chipping away as he took out 114. Incredibly Anderson then blew 10 darts for 6-3 and Smith pinched the leg. He then dominated to take the 7-5 win. Credit to Smith for persevering but what now for Anderson?

He has some serious thinking to do now because the back problem clearly isn’t getting any better.

Elsewhere on the opening night, World No.1 Michael van Gerwen convincingly beat World Champion Rob Cross 7-2. The defending Premier League Champion gained a little revenge for his World Championship semi-final defeat at the hands of Cross and he hit three 114 finishes along the way.

Simon Whitlock - back in the PL after a three year absence - produced a stirring fightback to beat debutant Mensur Suljovic 7-5. The Austrian led 3-1 and missed a dart at the bull to move 4-1 up. The Aussie won four legs on the spin including a terrific 160 finish......back came Mensur with a 138 check-out which was his third ton plus finish, but Whitlock held firm with a 106.49 average and 7/8 on the doubles!

Raymond van Barneveld survived three match darts to come from 3-6 down to earn a point against Daryl Gurney. The Irishman won four consecutive legs to lead 6-3 but Barney’s experience told in the end.

And in the last match of the night, Gerwyn Price won five of the last six legs to pinch a point against Peter Wright.

Dublin results:

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

Cardiff week 2 schedule:

Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney

Rob Cross v Simon Whitlock

Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright

Gerwyn Price v Gary Anderson

Raymond van Barneveld v Mensur Suljovic

By STUART PYKE in Dublin

Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC