Michael van Gerwen draws with Phil Taylor

Van Gerwen unable to hold out for win over The Power on thrilling opening night

runner-up Simon Whitlock was also a winner at the Odyssey Arena as he crushed a poor Adrian Lewis 7-3.

There was nothing to separate the players early on as the first five legs went with throw. But the Aussie struck a 121 finish to break and go 4-2 up before Lewis hit back immediately to reduce his arrears to 4-3.

Whitlock broke again, though, to lead 5-3 before hitting double top in the next leg to guarantee at least a draw. ‘The Wizard’ didn’t have to wait long to complete his win as the 10th leg summed up Lewis’s evening.

Eagle eyed: Simon Whitlock in action

Eagle eyed: Simon Whitlock in action

The two-time world champion missed six darts at a double and Whitlock stepped in to hit double eight and wrap up a comfortable win in Northern Ireland.

In the first match of the evening, Robert Thornton secured a 7-5 win over Andy Hamilton on his Premier League debut.

The UK Open champion raced into a 5-1 lead and appeared to be cruising towards victory before Hamilton fought back to level at 5-5.

But Thornton checked out a 120 finish against the throw in leg 11 before sealing a 7-5 victory in the deciding leg.

In week one’s other match, perennial Premier League slow starter James Wade earned his first opening-week win since 2008 as he cruised past debutant Wes Newton 7-4.