World darts champion Rob Cross produced another highly impressive performance to record his seventh win in eight Unibet Premier League matches.
The St Leonards-based player recorded a superb 106.26 average and hit 54% of his darts at a double to beat Michael Smith 7-5 at The FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield tonight (Thursday).
Cross remains third in the league table, but is now level on points with second-placed Smith and both are on course to be part of the four-man play-offs at the end of the 16-week roadshow event next month.
World number three Cross produced a splendid 107 outshot for a 12-darter against the throw in an opening leg where both players hit a 180. Cross pinned double 16 to lead 2-0, but Smith replied by winning the next three legs, aided by a 180 in leg four, to lead 3-2.
Cross then served up four consecutive top drawer legs - two 13-darters and two 12-darters - to establish a 6-3 advantage. He followed a 177 and 180 with a 62 checkout in leg seven, and hit 180, 140 and an 82 finish in leg nine.
After Cross missed a dart at double top to win 7-3, Smith broke to stay alive at 6-4 and then held for 6-5. Both players landed 180s in the deciding leg - Cross’s was his fourth maximum - before Cross finished 48 in two darts for a 14-darter and an important victory.
In his post-match interview with Sky Sports, Cross said: “I just sort of switched off the last couple of legs. I had a chance to win it on my own throw (in leg 10) and missed the 80, but the last leg was a good one, and enough to win, and now we can move on and keep doing what we want to do.
“The first two (Premier League) weeks I was struggling in myself, but since then I’ve gone from strength to strength. Every Thursday now I look forward to it and that’s what you need to do to be winning.
“Michael’s leg difference is massive compared to mine, which is something I need to work on, but if I finish in that top four nothing else matters.”
The Premier League will visit the Dutch city of Rotterdam next Wednesday and Thursday, and Cross will contest three matches across the two nights.
“I’m going to go in a little bit blind, like I normally do, but everything will be alright,” said Cross, who is enjoying his maiden Premier League campaign. “I feel really good in myself, I’m playing well, and there’s no reason why I can’t go there and get six points.”
Unibet Premier League standings (played 10 matches unless stated): 1st Michael van Gerwen 18pts (+38 leg difference), 2nd Michael Smith 14 (+23), 3rd Rob Cross 14 (+11), 4th Gary Anderson 11 (+6), 5th Daryl Gurney 11 (+2), 6th Simon Whitlock 10 (-1), 7th Raymond van Barneveld (11) 8 (-18), 8th Peter Wright (11) 8 (-19).
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