Michael Smith in tears and apologises to rival after sealing Premier League play-off spot | Other | Sport

An emotional Michael Smith was reduced to tears after beating Nathan Aspinall in their Premier League Darts meeting in Sheffield. In what was a virtual qualifier between the pair for finals night at the O2 Arena, it was ‘Bully Boy’ who prevailed 6-3 against his good friend.

The victory set up a semi-final clash with Luke Littler later in the evening but more significantly, ensured Smith cemented a top four finish in the table. Defeat was particularly cruel on Aspinall, who has spent the majority of the 16 weeks well placed to get to London.

The tension between the two was apparent in the early stages, and there was little rapport before the 2023 world champion pulled away at 4-3 up. And there was an emotional embrace on stage afterwards before a tearful Smith faced the cameras.

“That 136 went in and then the 132 and I just knew that would have hurt him,” he said. “I wanted to do cartwheels and backflips and everything. I had to keep it calm and collected and just apologise to Nathan. I do feel sorry for him because I want him there as well as me so that was really hard.”

Smith even described the win as more emotional than his 2022 success at the Ally Pally. Along with Littler, he will be joined at the O2 by Michael van Gerwen and Luke Humphries.

“I am crying more than I did when I won the Worlds,” Smith said. “Playing Nathan there, he was outscoring me. I wasn’t playing well at all.”

Smith, 33, will now aim to go better than he did on finals night 12 months ago. Then, he was beaten in the final four by Van Gerwen, who would go on to hammer Gerwyn Price in the final.

And irrespective of how things pan out at the Utilita Arena, Smith knows his opponent next Thursday. He will take on ‘the Nuke’ after the 17-year-old secured top spot by beating Peter Wright, meaning tonight’s semi-final clash will serve as a dress rehearsal for next week.

‘MVG’ and Humphries are in the same boat. The pair will face-off late on in their own semi-final, and also go head to head for a place in the final in the English capital in seven days’ time.


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