It was third time lucky for Rob Cross as the darts superstar picked up his first victory in the 2018 Unibet Premier League tonight (Thursday).
After heavy defeats in his first two matches, the world champion got his maiden Premier League campaign up and running with a seven legs to four win over world number two Peter Wright.
Looking far more like his usual impressive self, St Leonards-based Cross hit four 180s and broke throw four times during a decent performance at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.
Cross made a terrific start, winning the opening three legs without Wright even having a dart at a double. A 180 helped him break throw in the first leg and after winning a second leg in which he missed the bull for a 164 finish, Cross produced a 14-darter to break again.
The world number three hit another 180 in leg four, but missed two darts at a double to lead 4-0 and Wright broke for 3-1. Wright held throw in the next, despite a third Cross 180.
Cross landed his fourth maximum en route to a 13-darter for 4-2 only for Wright to reply with an 11-darter, featuring his first 180, to make it 4-3.
After Wright missed two darts at a double to level at 4-4, Cross landed double one to go 5-3 up and then hit double five in the next leg to lead 6-3, guarantee himself at least a draw.
Cross missed two darts for the match on his own throw in leg 10 and Wright checked out 101 to stay alive at 6-4. Wright looked set to make it 6-5, but missed three darts at a double and Cross hit double 16 to secure his first Premier League victory.
The 27-year-old looks to be firmly back on track after a splendid set of results in last weekend’s three Coral UK Open qualifiers ended a run of six straight defeats in all competitions.
In his post-match interview with Sky Sports, Cross said: “It’s brilliant. Obviously not being used to what I’ve experienced it’s been very hard. I’ve struggled really because there’s not been a routine in my game for the last six weeks. I feel I’m making strides and I’m playing better.
“Last weekend when I played at Wigan and I played tonight, I felt a little bit more comfortable. And it will keep getting better. I’m not finished yet.
“I think winning games (helped). I’ve not been playing enough and that really affects me. Now I’ve got that normality and I’m playing all the time, it’s the best thing that could happen for me.
“The crowds are nothing I’ve experienced before. I don’t feel they bother me. I’ve got to be right to play and I’m happy just to get a win. That will settle me.”
Wright looked decidedly unhappy as the players exchanged words on stage after the match, but Cross gave little away when asked what the issue was.
“I will talk to Peter after the game,” he said. “I won’t speculate now. I’ll have a chat with him and see what comes out of it.”
The Premier League - a 16-week roadshow event involving 10 of the sport’s top players - will head to Germany for the first time next Thursday, when Cross will face Raymond van Barneveld in front of an anticipated 12,000 crowd in Berlin.
Cross lies ninth in the table, but is only a point behind five-time world champion van Barneveld in fifth and two back of world number one Michael van Gerwen in third.
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