Rob Cross wins thriller at World Darts Championship - and admits: I didn't feel like I played well

Rob Cross won an absolute thriller to reach the last 16 of the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 10:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 10:56 pm
Rob Cross on the way to beating Daryl Gurney / Picture: Lawrence Lustig - PDC

The world number 11 from St Leonards triumphed by four sets to three against Daryl Gurney in arguably the game of the tournament so far on Tuesday night. Cross wrapped up victory with a magnificent 170 checkout as he set up a fourth-round tie on Thursday.

That was Cross' fifth ton-plus checkout of a compelling contest at Alexandra Palace, London, in which he averaged 99.77 and hit no less than 13 180s. He said: "I just couldn't get away from Daryl, he's a phenomenal player and he's back to his best.

"I didn't actually feel like I played well tonight. I should've finished the job earlier, but I showed my class in the end. I believe I'm a better player than I was when I won it (the World Championship, four years ago). I've got the experience now. I know what I'm doing and I've got the game."

Rob Cross / Picture: Lawrence Lustig - PDC

Cross landed a 147 outshot on his way to clinching the opening set 3-2, breaking Gurney's throw in the final leg. The 2018 champion went on to claim the second set by the same margin, sealing it with a 108 finish.

Gurney fought back by taking the third set in a deciding leg, but Cross restored his two-set cushion by coming from 2-0 down to bag the fourth, starting the turnaround with a 130 checkout. Former World Grand Prix champion Gurney, from Northern Ireland, kept his hopes alive by winning the fifth set 3-1.

Cross should've got over the line in the deciding leg of the sixth set only to spurn three match darts and allow 22nd-ranked Gurney to level at 3-3. Reigning European Championship winner Cross broke throw in the opening leg of the deciding set with a 98 finish before producing a 116 outshot to hold in the next leg. And although Gurney pulled one back with a 116 of his own, Cross came up with that maximum 170 checkout in leg four to seal the win in superb style.

Previously, Cross came from behind to see off five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld by three sets to one in round two last Thursday night. Buoyed by the support of a vocal crowd, Dutch legend Van Barneveld clinched the opening set by three legs to one with the help of a 170 checkout.

Rob Cross takes on Daryl Gurney / Picture: Lawrence Lustig - PDC

But Cross responded strongly to claim nine of the subsequent 12 legs as he secured his first victory at Alexandra Palace since December 2018, hitting seven 180s in the process. The 31-year-old produced some excellent darts to take the second set 3-1, wrapping it up with a 93 finish. He then won a crucial deciding leg in the third set before landing the fourth 3-0.

Televised live on Sky Sports, the World Championship will resume after a day's break with the quarter-finals tomorrow, the semi-finals will follow on Sunday and the final on Monday.