Whitlock picked up a key 8-4 win over reigning champion Wade with a scintillating display of finishing at the Metro Radio Arena.
The Australian hit three ton-plus checkouts amongst landing eight of 13 attempts at a double during the win, and now sits on 14 points, one ahead of King and Baxter.
“I knew I needed a good result and I’ve got a win so I’m very happy with that,” said Whitlock. “I’ve been working hard on my finishing again recently and it paid off for me.”
King suffered a second successive loss for the first time this season with an 8-5 reverse at the hands of Raymond van Barneveld, who followed up last week’s nine-darter with another improved showing to move off the foot of the table.
Baxter and Lewis, meanwhile, battled out a draw which leaves the Stoke youngster needing a big win over Phil Taylor next week and other results to go his way if he is to finish in the top four.
Baxter had chances to claim a crucial victory after going 7-5 up, but missed four darts at a double in each of the next two legs to take the win as Lewis scrambled home a point.
“The winning double can be so hard to hit sometimes and you never know if it will go in,” admitted Baxter. “I’ve still got a point, though, and that might prove important at the end of next week.”
Taylor maintained his unbeaten record this season with an 8-5 win over Terry Jenkins in the night’s other game, extending his lead at the head of the table to ten points as well as condemning his opponent to bottom place.
Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts
Week 13 – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Adrian Lewis 7-7 Ronnie Baxter
Mervyn King 5-8 Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade 4-8 Simon Whitlock
Terry Jenkins 5-8 Phil Taylor
Week 14 – May 13 – Trent FM Arena, Nottingham
Revised Order of Play
James Wade v Terry Jenkins
Ronnie Baxter v Raymond van Barneveld
Simon Whitlock v Mervyn King
Phil Taylor v Adrian Lewis
ADRIAN LEWIS 7-7 RONNIE BAXTER
ADRIAN LEWIS kept alive his slim hopes of securing a Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-off place by scrambling a draw against Ronnie Baxter, who maintains his place in the top four with a point.
Lewis’ hopes rest on the results of other players both later in Newcastle and also next week in Nottingham, where he could face league leader Phil Taylor needing to win well to reach the play-offs.
Baxter, though, held on to a play-off place by claiming a point – but was punished for eight missed match darts in the final two legs as he allowed Lewis in to take a draw.
Baxter also paid for poor finishing in the early legs, with Lewis twice punishing his misses in taking a 3-1 lead – and the Stoke ace also had five darts to win the second leg before his opponent got off the mark.
Baxter hit a 180 and double top to break throw in leg five before finishing 88 on the bullseye to level matters at the break.
Lewis returned with a 180 and eventually took the seventh leg on double three, while Baxter won the next 14 darts to square the match.
Lewis took out a pressure 86 in two darts to lead 5-4, but that finish was matched by Baxter in the next before he took out 100 against the throw to lead for the first time.
Double seven in the next pushed him 7-5 up and ensured a point, but he missed four darts at double 16 and double eight in the 13th leg for the match before Lewis scrambled in double five.
Baxter, who held the throw in the decider, was first to the finish again, but missed another four match darts, this time on double top and double ten, before Lewis posted tops to grab the draw.
“The winning double can be so hard to hit sometimes and you never know if it will go in,” admitted Baxter. “It’s just the width of that wire sometimes and it was on the wrong side tonight.
“I’ve still got a point, though, and that might prove important at the end of next week.”
Lewis admitted: “There was a lot of pressure on us both tonight and I’m disappointed with my performance.
“I was probably lucky to get the draw in the end but I should have been 5-1 up at the break and could have kicked on from there, but I wasn’t and left myself with too much to do to win it.”
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 8-5 MERVYN KING
MERVYN KING’S Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-off hopes were dented by an 8-5 defeat to Raymond van Barneveld at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.
The 2009 Premier League runner-up faces a crucial 14th-week battle with Simon Whitlock in Nottingham to ensure his play-off place, after suffering a second successive loss for the first time this season.
By contrast, van Barneveld picked up back-to-back wins for the first time in 2010, following up his nine-darter in a defeat of Terry Jenkins last week with another confidence-boosting victory.
The Dutchman made an ideal start to lead 4-0, and though King levelled he held his nerve to take four of the final five legs.
Van Barneveld hit a 177 and double top to break throw in the opening leg, which he followed up with a 180 in an 11-darter to move 2-0 up.
A missed bullseye from King allowed van Barneveld in on double ten to treble the cushion, and a second 180 put him into a four-leg advantage.
Van Barneveld had one dart to lead 5-0, but his miss at double top allowed King a reprieve as he landed double top to get off the mark.
King then posted a 180 and an 80 finish on the bull to pull back to 4-2, a 130 checkout for a third leg and then double top to win a fourth successive leg and level the game.
A 12-darter from van Barneveld saw him steady the ship, and a second successive 76 checkout put him 6-4 up.
Double 16 gave King a fifth leg, and the pair traded 180s in the next but van Barneveld was first to the finish to ensure a minimum of a draw at 7-5, before landing double ten to get a second successive win.
“Last week it was a great relief for me to get the win and it’s given me a lot of confidence,” said van Barneveld. “I was determined to get the win tonight and I hope I can finish as high as possible in the league.
“I’m great friends with Mervyn but I have to do my job and I don’t want to finish eighth, and I had to get the win.”
SIMON WHITLOCK 8-4 JAMES WADE
SIMON WHITLOCK clamed a key 8-4 win over James Wade to put one foot into the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-offs on a dramatic night in Newcastle.
The pair entered the clash locked on 12 points in the league table, and it was the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship who emerged victorious to enter the final week needing only a draw to qualify.
Wade, the reigning champion, now has to defeat Terry Jenkins in Nottingham to keep alive his hopes of retaining the title at Wembley Arena on May 23.
Whitlock, as so often during the Premier League, benefitted from his tremendous finishing, hitting eight from 13 attempts at a double in the game and three ton-plus finishes.
The game’s opening two legs both went against the throw before Whitlock broke with a superb 124 bullseye finish in the third.
The pair traded 180s in the fourth leg, which Wade won in 12 darts, only to then miss two darts to edge in front as Whitlock took out double eight for a third leg.
The Australian posted a third 180 of the game in holding throw for the first time, with double 16 seeing him move 4-2 up thanks to hitting four of five attempts at a double.
Wade hit a 180 in a 13-darter to pull back in leg seven, but Whitlock found another gear to win the next three, including a 104 checkout against the throw, in taking a commanding 7-3 lead.
Wade checked out 127 on the bull to win the next in 12 darts, but any hopes of a fightback to claim a draw were dashed when Whitlock took victory thanks to a 100 finish.
“I knew I needed a good result and I’ve got a win so I’m very happy with that,” said Whitlock. “Being in fifth spot going into the game and knowing I needed at least a draw meant there was a lot of pressure.
“I’ve been working hard on my finishing again recently and it paid off for me. If my finishing is there my scoring usually flows and it did.
“It’s down to me next week now. Mervyn King will be ready for me and it will be a big game but hopefully I can get the win again and make sure of a play-off spot.”
PHIL TAYLOR 8-5 TERRY JENKINS
PHIL TAYLOR moved ten points clear at the top of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts table with an 8-5 defeat of Terry Jenkins in Newcastle.
Taylor’s charge towards a fifth Premier League title remains on course following his 11th win in 13 games so far in the league season, as he looks to enter the play-offs unbeaten after facing Adrian Lewis next week.
The defeat means Jenkins returns to the foot of the table, although he matched Taylor during the early stages only to fall victim to a typical mid-game burst from the 15-time World Champion.
Jenkins held throw to win the opening leg before Taylor checked out 123 on the bull for the second.
The pair traded the next two, Jenkins hitting double ten before Taylor set up a double 16 finish with a superb 174 score in a 13-darter.
Double top from Jenkins gave him a 3-2 cushion, but he paid dearly for missed doubles in the next two legs – Taylor checking out 104 to level and then double 12 for a 13-dart finish in hitting the front at 4-3.
That was better with an 11-darter in the next as he pulled two legs clear, checking out on double 12 for a third successive leg, although Jenkins took out double ten to punish two missed doubles from Taylor.
Finishes of double 16 and double 19 gave Taylor the next two and a 7-4 lead, but Jenkins produced his best leg of the game with a 14-dart finish in claiming a fifth leg.
Taylor, though, was in no mood to allow Jenkins back into the game, ruthlessly sealing the win in 11 darts, hitting a 180 and an 81 checkout in wrapping up two more points.
“I’m pleased with the win and to get another good performance under my belt,” said Taylor. “It was a difficult game because I’ve already qualified and Terry can’t make the play-offs so he had nothing to play for, but I concentrated and did the job.
“It was a good atmosphere and the fans seemed to enjoy the match. Terry is a consistent player but he’s had a disappointing season and he’s looking to get back to where he can be, and he showed some signs of that in this game.”