St Leonards star back on top of Premier League

Rob Cross celebrates during his 8-1 win against Michael Smith. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rob Cross celebrates during his 8-1 win against Michael Smith. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Darts star Rob Cross went back to the top of the Unibet Premier League following an emphatic victory tonight (Thursday).

The world number two from St Leonards produced another impressive display to thrash World Championship runner-up Michael Smith 8-1 at The Manchester Arena.

That result moved Cross back above world champion Michael van Gerwen, who lost 8-5 to Daryl Gurney later in the evening.

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Cross recorded a 102.54 average and hit five 180s in a match where he finished superbly early on before delivering some real power scoring at the end.

The former world champion raced into a 4-0 lead with checkouts of 101, 78, 71 and 68, even though Smith was scoring more heavily than him in the early part of the match.

Cross hit double two to lead 5-0 before Smith finished 68 to open his account. Deadly on double 16, Cross then reeled off three consecutive 11-dart legs, aided by four 180s, to win a match which lasted just 17 minutes and 42 seconds.

Rob Cross at the oche against Michael Smith. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Rob Cross at the oche against Michael Smith. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Speaking to Sky Sports afterwards, Cross said: “Early on I set up well and finished well. Michael missed a few shots and gave me a little leeway, but the last three legs I scored properly and finished properly, and I’m really happy with that.

“I feel a lot better and a lot more capable maybe than I have the last two or three weeks. If I can carry that forward now and keep playing well, we could watch a bit of magic again.”

Darts’ widest-reaching tournament, the Unibet Premier League sees nine of the world’s top players compete across 17 nights of action from February-May.

The top four players at the end of 16 nights will face off in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 23.

Rob Cross acknowledges the crowd in Manchester. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Rob Cross acknowledges the crowd in Manchester. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Cross, nicknamed Voltage, has 20 points from 14 matches (nine wins, two draws and three defeats) and has now all-but qualified for the Play-Offs.

“I want a good run up to the Play-Offs and I want to go in full of confidence, and go and do some damage there,” added Cross, who will face fourth-placed Mensur Suljovic in Sheffield next Thursday.

Standings (all played 14 matches): 1st Rob Cross 20pts, 2nd Michael van Gerwen 19, 3rd James Wade 17, 4th Mensur Suljovic 17, 5th Daryl Gurney 16, 6th Gerwyn Price 15, 7th Peter Wright 9, 8th Michael Smith 9.