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Luke Littler beats Nathan Aspinall to win Premier League Darts night nine in Belfast

Luke Littler and Luke Humphries acknowledge each other after the former wins in the quarter-finals of Premier League Darts night nine in Belfast
Luke Littler (left) has beaten Luke Humphries (right) in all four matches between the pair since the latter won the World Championship final on 3 January [PA Media]

Teenager Luke Littler continued his extraordinary rise as he won his first Premier League Darts night with a 6-4 win over Nathan Aspinall in Belfast.

Littler, 17, rose to prominence when he was runner-up to Luke Humphries in the World Darts Championship on debut.

The Premier League debutant had reached the final in week two in Berlin but lost to Michael van Gerwen.

He beat Humphries, who defeated him in January's World final, in the quarter-finals, and Van Gerwen in the semis.

The win leaves Littler second in the eight-player Premier League Darts table with the top four progressing to the play-offs on 23 May at London's O2 Arena.

"I'm happy to win," Littler told Sky Sports. "I've practised more tonight and it has paid off.

"I've got to enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it, you won't perform or play well."

Since his defeat in January's World final, Littler has won the Bahrain Masters and the Players Championship One event as he continues his rise through the sport.

His Premier League campaign has been up and down, with two quarter-final defeats in the opening eight weeks, but this win puts him on track to reach the play-offs.

His 6-5 defeat by Van Gerwen in Berlin on night two has not fazed him, with the Warrington-born teenager looking more relaxed as the weeks go by.

He has changed his throw over the past few weeks too, pausing before releasing, showing immense courage to do that on the biggest stage but it is paying dividends.

He started the final against Aspinall, who was in his fourth final of the year, with a superb 136 checkout in the opening leg.

Stockport-born Aspinall, who won night five in Exeter, broke in leg three, but Littler got the game back on throw with an outrageous bullseye, 25, bullseye finish in leg six.

He broke again in leg eight, but Aspinall broke straight back and a decider seemed certain.

Littler missed match darts in the 10th leg but was able to come back and tidy up for the win after Aspinall failed to take out 113.

For Littler this was further progress and he is consistently beating the best players in the world, with his record against Humphries, who was seeking a record-breaking fourth successive nightly win, now at 4-0 since his World final defeat.

He is also 3-3 against Van Gerwen, who has won the Premier League a record seven times.

Elsewhere, there was just a second quarter-final win of the season for Peter Wright, but Gerwyn Price and Rob Cross continue to struggle and are in danger of being cut adrift from the play-off race.

Premier League Darts table

Premier League Darts table: Luke Humphries 22, Luke Littler 18, Michael Van Gerwen 17, Nathan Aspinall 16, Michael Smith 13, Rob Cross 11, Gerwyn Price 7, Peter Wright 4
[BBC Sport]

Night nine results

Quarter-finals

Luke Humphries 5-6 Luke Littler

Michael Smith 4-6 Michael van Gerwen

Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Gerwyn Price

Rob Cross 3-6 Peter Wright

Semi-finals

Littler 6-3 Van Gerwen

Aspinall 6-2 Wright

Final

Littler 6-4 Aspinall

Night 10 fixtures

4 April in Manchester

Quarter-finals

Nathan Aspinall v Rob Cross

Luke Littler v Michael van Gerwen

Michael Smith v Luke Humphries

Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright