Cross qualifies for Premier League Play-Offs

Rob Cross has qualified for the Unibet Premier League Play-Offs. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rob Cross has qualified for the Unibet Premier League Play-Offs. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Darts superstar Rob Cross is guaranteed a place in the Unibet Premier League Play-Offs despite being beaten tonight (Thursday).

The St Leonards-based world champion lost 7-2 against world number one and league leader Michael van Gerwen at Arena Birmingham.

But the subsequent 6-6 draw between Michael Smith and Daryl Gurney confirmed that Cross will be one of the four men who line up in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 17.

Who he will play and what position he finishes the league stage of the competition in will be decided after next Thursday’s matches at the BHGE Arena in Aberdeen.

Tonight Cross ran into a player in exceptional form as van Gerwen achieved a remarkable average of 111.57 - the highest of this year’s Premier League. Cross played pretty well himself, averaging 101.71 and hitting a maximum.

Cross had a dart at a double in each of the first two legs, missing double 18 for a 116 checkout in the opener and double top for a 12-darter in the next, but van Gerwen took them both in 14 darts.

Van Gerwen produced a brilliant 11-darter to break throw again in leg three and his first 180 helped him to a 12-darter in the next as his average briefly touched 122.

Cross checked out 78 to get himself on the scoreboard at 4-1 only for van Gerwen to land a superb 144 finish for a 12-darter in leg six. Cross valiantly battled on when others might have folded and finished 52 in two darts for a 14-darter in leg seven.

Two-time world champion van Gerwen hit his third 180 en route to a 13-darter and a 6-2 lead before sealing victory by finishing 86 on the bull in leg nine.

Cross remains third in the league table and a victory against Simon Whitlock in Aberdeen could lift him up to second if Michael Smith loses his match.

Unibet Premier League standings (all played 15 matches): 1st Michael van Gerwen 23 (+45), 2nd Michael Smith 19 (+24), 3rd Rob Cross 18 (+5), 4th Gary Anderson 17 (+14), 5th Daryl Gurney 15 (+1), 6th Raymond van Barneveld 14 (-9), 7th Peter Wright 13 (-20), 8th Simon Whitlock 12 (-18).

Benefit from an ongoing discount on your Observer by joining our voucher membership scheme. Once you’ve subscribed, we’ll send you dated vouchers which can be exchanged for your paper at any news outlet. To save money on your Observer, simply click here (www.localsubsplus.co.uk)