St Leonards star stays top of Premier League and books Play-Offs spot

Rob Cross celebrates after completing his 8-4 win over Mensur Suljovic. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rob Cross celebrates after completing his 8-4 win over Mensur Suljovic. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Darts superstar Rob Cross consolidated top spot in the Unibet Premier League - and sealed his place in the Play-Offs - with another convincing victory.

The world number two from St Leonards again produced a high class display to see off Mensur Suljovic 8-4 at The FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield tonight (Thursday).

Cross remains a point clear of world number one Michael van Gerwen, who thrashed Peter Wright 8-1, at the top of the table after 15 of the 16 nights in the league phase.

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A victory for Cross against James Wade in Leeds next Thursday would see him become only the third player - after Van Gerwen and the great Phil Taylor - to finish top of the league in the competition’s history.

The leading four players in the league phase after night 16 will qualify for the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 23 and Cross is now guaranteed to finish no lower than second.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Cross said: “I’ve played it (the Premier League) twice now and I’ve qualified (for the Play-Offs) twice. This time round on finals’ night I want it to be better and I am a lot better this year than I was last year with the illness.

“I love my darts now. To be honest I did a lot of learning last year. I took a lot of things in, but I didn’t feel like I developed with it really as a player. Now I’ve learnt and I can go up there, enjoy it and win games, like I want to be doing.”

Cross averaged 102.66, hit seven 180s (and a 177) and was successful with 47% of his attempts at a double against Austrian thrower Suljovic.

Four of those 180s helped him race into a 3-0 lead with legs of 15, 11 and 13 darts. Suljovic broke the Cross throw in leg four to open his account, but the former world champion responded in the next leg by finishing 72 in two darts for a 14-darter and a 4-1 advantage.

Although Suljovic broke for a second time in leg six, Cross produced a brilliant 126 checkout on the bullseye in the next leg and then held throw for 6-2. Suljovic held throw for the first time in leg nine only for Cross to land his fifth 180 and then finish 70 for a 7-3 cushion.

Suljovic checked out 124 on the bull in leg 11 to stay alive, but Cross hit back-to-back 180s in the next leg - taking his tally in the 2019 Unibet Premier League to 51 - before sealing victory with his fifth match dart.

“I came out like a train tonight; I thought I started really well,” added Cross, who lost 7-5 to Suljovic earlier in the competition having led 5-1. “All of a sudden I made myself a bit edgy actually; it was weird.

“But towards the end of the game we got ourselves together, started scoring and got the elusive win. Mensur’s had a bit over me lately so it’s nice.”

Standings (all played 15 matches): 1st Rob Cross 22pts, 2nd Michael van Gerwen 21, 3rd James Wade 18, 4th Mensur Suljovic 17, 5th Daryl Gurney 17, 6th Gerwyn Price 16, 7th Michael Smith 10, 8th Peter Wright 9.