LUKE ‘The Nuke’ Littler paid the price for two misses at double as he lost the Premier League Darts Night 2 final against Michael van Gerwen in Berlin.

The 17-year-old, who spent the years of his childhood in Runcorn, set himself up to check out on his favourite double 10 against the throw in the deciding leg.

All inside the Mercedes-Benz Arena rose to their feet in anticipation of ‘The Nuke’ winning his first Premier League nightly round.

But he was a whisker on the outside and an inch inside with two match throws, leaving the way for the Dutchman and reigning Premier League champion to clinically clinch the £10,000 prize and five league points.

Such is the expectancy surrounding Littler starting games fast, when his very first arrow pins treble 20 eyebrows raise and cheers in the crowd are roused.

This is, of course, on the back of his amazing nine-darter in the very first leg of his opening game in his Bahrain Darts Masters triumph last month.

So when ‘The Nuke’ landed 180 with his first three darts in his quarter-final against Cross at the 10,000-seater venue, there was more than a hint of ‘surely not’ in various languages being remarked inside the venue as well as lounges across the world as fans from afar were glued to their television screens.

There was almost a moan when he missed the treble on his return to the oche but he soon cleared up and took control, breaking Cross in the fourth leg with a second successive ton-plus checkout for 3-1.

At that stage Littler was averaging 114.5 and the man he beat in the World Championship semi-finals could have been excused for thinking ‘oh no, not again’.

But Cross punished Littler when the teenager’s scoring dropped in the fifth and then held his throw to put the match all level again at 3-3.

The contest then stayed with throw until the end, Cross’ 144 checkout in the eighth leg not counting for much in the end as Littler progressed 6-5.

Littler’s rivalry with Humphries continued in the semi-final, having lost to ‘Cool Hand’ in the World Championship final but going on to beat him in the Dutch Masters and Premier League Night 1 in Cardiff.

But he had to do it the hard way in Berlin, falling behind 4-2 and looking like he could be in a bit of trouble when he opened with 58 in the next leg.

But three treble 18s put him on a good footing and held his nerve to take the next three legs and restore control to ensure he had the darts first if it went to a decider – which it did.

Starting leg 11 with 59 wasn’t the best, but Humphries couldn’t cash in and then treble 18 from Littler left him with double 10 to finish and showed again why it is his favourite way to exit a leg.

Michael van Gerwen had also won his semi-final 6-5, defeating Cardiff winner Michael Smith, so it brought about a repeat of the Dutch Masters and Bahrain showdowns of last month.

Littler broke MVG with a 12-dart first leg, held his throw for 2-0, but then came the comeback and poor scoring by ‘The Nuke’ in the fourth leg saw the Dutchman achieve the break he needed in response.

After that, all games went to throw but Littler missed double 20 in the ninth leg when a break was on.

And as it went down to the wire all the drama of each man’s final few darts capped a night of close matches that whet the appetite for the weeks ahead.

Premier League Darts continues with the third round in Glasgow next Thursday.