Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena hosts the penultimate league night of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts tomorrow night as the battle to qualify for the play-offs reaches boiling point
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With two league nights remaining before the top four players progress to compete for the £125,000 title at Wembley Arena on May 23, five players are fighting to join league leader Phil Taylor in the semi-finals later this month.
The visit to Newcastle sees two pivotal games feature four of the rivals, while second placed Mervyn King comes up against resurgent Raymond van Barneveld, who cannot qualify for the play-offs but hit a nine-dart finish in Aberdeen last week.
The night opens when Ronnie Baxter, one of three players locked on 12 points, takes on Adrian Lewis - who has to avoid defeat in his bid to reach the semi-finals after slipping to two points adrift of the top four.
Lewis has picked up only one point from his last three matches and takes on Phil Taylor in Nottingham next week, and said: "There's no reason why I can't qualify - but I've got to win both games.
"My point snapped when one fell out of the board recently and I had to use heavier darts for a couple of weeks, and my darts were dropping lower. Now I've got a set which are a replica of the other ones, I'm confident again with the darts and I think I can beat both Ronnie and Phil."
Baxter drew with James Wade in Aberdeen last week, but was defeated 8-6 in a dramatic finale when he last faced Lewis, who took out 118 in the deciding leg to claim both points.
"I love playing Adrian because he's the same pace as me and we have a good game together," said Baxter. "He's got a lovely throw and he knows he can hit the big scores, but it's about who performs on the night.
"I missed my doubles last time for a draw and he took out 118 to get the win. He did very well against me and he's played pretty well throughout the league."
The night's third game may also prove key in the play-off race, as the other two players who join Baxter on 12 points, reigning champion James Wade and World Championship runner-up Simon Whitlock, lock horns.
"It's obviously a huge game and to win and get the two points would be massive for me," said Wade. "I had my chances to win last week and was disappointed only to draw against Ronnie but this is a new match.
"Simon's had a good first season in the Premier League and is a lethal finisher, but if I play like I can there's no reason I can't win."
Whitlock admitted that it was his biggest game since reaching the final of the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship in January, as he bids to celebrate his debut Premier League campaign with a play-off berth.
"It's a huge game," said Whitlock. "It's massive for me and the following week against Mervyn will be massive too because it's all on the next two games.
"I love playing every player and all the matches are tough but I'll be prepared for James. I think he brings the best out of me and I've got to perform on the night."
The night's other clash sees unbeaten league leader Taylor take on Terry Jenkins, whose feint play-off hopes were ended by a loss to van Barneveld last week.
"In a way I'm glad the pressure won't be on me," said Taylor. "The other players are fighting for their lives and even though Terry can't qualify he's wanting to finish the season on a high so it will be a cracking game."
Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts
Week 13 - Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Adrian Lewis v Ronnie Baxter
Mervyn King v Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade v Simon Whitlock
Terry Jenkins v Phil Taylor
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