A SIXTH successive final appearance eluded teen darts star Luke ‘The Nuke’ Littler by the narrowest of margins on his PDC Premier League debut in Cardiff.

The 17-year-old was defeated in an absorbing semi-final deciding leg by St Helens thrower Michael Smith, who went on to beat Welshman Gerwyn Price 6-2 to win the £10,000 prize and five points on offer for the embryonic league table.

Littler, who lives in Warrington but spent his early years in Runcorn, rallied from 4-2 adrift with legs of 12, 14 and 13 darts, only to miss a match dart in the dramatic finale and he bowed out 6-5 on Smith’s next throw.

World Youth, World Junior and Bahrain Masters champion Littler, who was a narrow runner-up to Michael van Gerwen in last week's Dutch Darts Masters, produced a brace of ton-topping averages on his Premier League bow, but yet it proved not to be enough due to drastically improved form than of late from ‘Bully Boy’ Smith.

Runcorn and Widnes World: A focused Luke Littler ready for his Premier League bowA focused Luke Littler ready for his Premier League bow (Image: Kieran Cleeves/PDC)

A 105 average and six 180s from ‘The Nuke’ in the semi-final would have been enough to win most matches.

But missing the chance to break Smith’s hold of throw in the final leg, just a whisker away from the double 15 he needed to complete a 94 checkout with his last arrow at the Utilita Arena, cost him because of Smith’s clinical finishing on the night.

> READ: How Luke Littler's Premier League debut unfolded, leg by leg

In Littler’s first match in Cardiff, he defeated world number one Luke Humphries for the second week running – further avenging his World Championship Final defeat to ‘Cool Hand’ with a resounding 6-2 victory in the quarter-finals.

The same eight players will contest a further 15 rounds of Premier League to achieve as many points as possible on the ladder for a top-four finish that would secure them a place in the big-money play-offs at The O2 in London on May 23.

Next Thursday Premier League Night 2 takes place in Berlin, Germany, when Littler will be looking to add to the three points and third place he currently has in the bag.