St Leonards ace triumphs in televised contest

Rob Cross in action at the BetVictor World Matchplay last night. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rob Cross in action at the BetVictor World Matchplay last night. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

A fast rising darts talent was victorious in front of the television cameras in one of the sport’s top events last night (Monday).

Rob Cross, who lives in St Leonards, was a 10-7 winner over Ian White on his debut at the BetVictor World Matchplay in Blackpool.

Rob Cross makes his way to the stage at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Rob Cross makes his way to the stage at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Cross. “I feel brilliant, it’s bigger than anything I’ve ever played in before.

“I struggled to settle early on and missed a few doubles which could have made it easier for me but I’m happy to get the win. I still believed and it came together in the end.

“It’s amazing for me, I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I’m learning all the time and it’s special to play the best players in the world, but I believe I’ve got the game in me to beat anyone.”

Beating White, who lies 12th on the PDC order of merit, in a first round match televised live on Sky Sports was a tremendous result for 49th-ranked Cross and underlined his considerable potential.

The game’s opening six legs were shared before Cross claimed three in a row, including the first break of the match with the aid of a 180 and finishes of 60 and 68, as he moved 6-3 up.

Cross also took out 125 as he moved into a 7-4 lead before White responded to win three of the next four as he pulled back to 8-7.

Cross, though, regained his range on the doubles to move to the brink of victory before punishing two misses from White by taking out 70 to complete a memorable debut.

Cross will next face two-time world champion and world number four Adrian Lewis in round two tomorrow night.

The 26-year-old first hit the spotlight in the 2016 UK Open when, as an amateur Riley’s qualifier, he made it to the last 32 before falling to world number one Michael van Gerwen.

Later last year Cross topped the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour order of merit after winning three of the 16 events and thereby earned a place on the 2017 PDC Pro Tour.

He has already enjoyed a superb first year on the circuit. Cross reached the fifth round of the 2017 UK Open before being knocked out by eventual winner Peter Wright and a week later won his first PDC title at the third Players Championship event, beating Mervyn King 6-5 in the final.

The former electrician later won the 12th Players Championship event via a 6-5 victory over White, just a day after losing to Wright in the final of Players Championship 11.

Since then Cross has reached the semi-finals of Players Championship 13 and 14, and stunned world champion van Gerwen en route to the quarter-finals of the Austrian Darts Open.