St Leonards star is runner-up in Shanghai
Rob Cross reached the final of a World Series of Darts event for the second successive weekend.
The world champion from St Leonards was the runner-up at the Shanghai Darts Masters in China, matching his result at the US Darts Masters in Las Vegas last weekend.
Cross, the second seed based on the World Series of Darts rankings, began with a comprehensive 6-0 whitewash of Asian representative Chen Gan Liu in round one on Friday.
The 27-year-old hit two 180s, and had legs of 11 and 15 darts during a solid display in which his average briefly touched 101 in the final leg.
Cross returned yesterday (Saturday) with a magnificent performance to defeat in-form world number 10 James Wade 8-3 in a very high quality quarter-final.
Cross landed five 180s and averaged more than 106 in a match where nine of the 11 legs were won in 15 darts or fewer.
Although Wade broke throw in the opening leg, Cross reeled off the next four in 14, 12, 12 and 13 darts, hitting two maximums in leg three and breaking throw in leg four despite Wade landing a pair of 180s.
Wade hit back with a 140 checkout in leg six and also held throw in leg eight to make it 5-3, but Cross claimed the next three legs to seal victory, producing a superb 131 outshot for a 12-dart hold in leg nine and then a 14-dart break in leg 10.
Cross didn’t scale quite the same heady heights in his semi-final against world number two Peter Wright, yet still did enough to clinch an 8-5 win, hitting three 180s along the way.
Wright made an electric start, claiming the first two legs in 13 and 11 darts, only for Cross to level at 2-2 with legs of 15 and 13 darts. Although Wright broke the Cross throw to lead 3-2, Cross took charge by winning the next four legs - the first two of them in 14 and 15 darts - to lead 6-3.
The players then traded holds of throw for the next four legs as Cross finished the job, Wright taking leg 10 in 14 darts and leg 12 in 15, and Cross claiming leg 11 in 13 before wrapping things up two legs later.
The final proved a game too far for Cross, though, as he was beaten 8-2 by world number nine and Premier League runner-up Michael Smith.
With both men playing their third match of the day, Cross averaged 92.12 (with two 180s) and landed 22% of his attempts at a double.
Smith, who knocked out world number one Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals, raced into a 4-0 lead, aided by a 14-dart second leg.
Cross gave himself hope by winning the next two in 15 and 13 darts, but Smith took the subsequent four legs - two of them in 15 darts and one in 14 - to secure his first TV title. Smith also nailed a 130 outshot in leg eight.
Cross said: “In fairness, Michael deserved that - I was useless. At the same time, I can’t be disappointed…I felt knackered when I started and come the final I just didn’t have the energy left. I thought I was lucky to hit the dartboard, but fair play to Michael.
“I’m feeling happy with my game at the moment, but today was just about having no energy - there just wasn’t enough there to carry me through.”
See also: * St Leonards star reaches Las Vegas final* Cross sinks Taylor to win world titleBenefit 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)