Wade, King and Jenkins maintain play-off hopes
Phil Taylor had to produce a fine display to see off the challenge off Simon Whitlock in Liverpool, while James Wade, Mervyn King and Terry Jenkins also enjoyed victories on night 11 of Premier League Darts.
Taylor and Whitlock met in what was a rematch of the Ladbrokes.com World final and, while the outcome proved the same, the Australian more than played his part in a cracking contest.
Both players averaged over 100 and there were no fewer than nine maximums (Whitlock five, Taylor four) in an absorbing clash that, for a long time, looked like going the distance.
After the first four legs were shared, Whitlock stepped in to take out 70 to claim the first break and get his nose in front at 3-2.
But Taylor responded like a champion in the next and, after successive maximums, was on course for a nine-darter.
He eventually failed to land treble-19 with his eighth dart, but was far enough ahead to complete a 12-darter that brought him level again at the interval.
Locked together at 5-5, Taylor moved clear again after checking out 96 in two darts and then secured what proved the crucial break to go 7-5 as he hit double-16 following a maximum earlier in leg 12.
He then closed out victory in the grand manner as he completed a 125 finish that featured two bulls and the outer ring.
Comfortable for King
King moved second in the table with a comprehensive 8-3 triumph over an out-of-sorts Adrian Lewis.
Lewis actually took the first leg of the contest, but King - who finished with an average of 94 - then proceeded to reel off the next seven as Jackpot was made to pay for a host of missed doubles early on.
He prolonged the match by hitting double-seven in the ninth leg and then took the next to add a degree of respectability to the scoreline, but it merely delayed the inevitable which came when King found tops to seal victory.
Raymond van Barneveld was again disappointing as he slumped to his seventh defeat on the spin in the competition with James Wade the latest player to get the better of him.
Wade was clinical as he also eased to an 8-3 scoreline, leaving Barney rooted to the bottom of the table.
The Dutchman looked in good spirits as he made his way to the stage and made a decent fist of things early on, a 12-darter good enough to see him go to the interval level.
But his game collapsed on the resumption as Wade pulled clear and by the end it was the crowd who were providing the left-hander with his biggest challenge - friendly barracking as he looked to hit tops to close out the match.
After twice missing he duly did so to consolidate his fine recent form and insisted he now fancied his chances of going on to retain his crown.
"I feel like I'm starting to show my true colours now and my finishing was good tonight but I know I've got more in the tank," Wade stated.
"All the games now are massive for me and it's a really interesting Premier League this season because seven players are in with a shout, and it's all about who's got the most bottle now."
Blow for Baxter
But while Wade's play-off hopes gather momentum, Ronnie Baxter's are under threat after an 8-4 defeat to Terry Jenkins.
Baxter did lead 2-1 early on, but was 4-2 down by the break and could not quite force his way back into the match.
Jenkins shows glimpses of his best form as he landed two ton-plus check-outs and the win keeps alive his hopes of making the top four.