Rob Cross was eliminated from the 2020 Unibet Premier League after suffering a 7-4 reverse to league leader Glen Durrant on Judgement Night, but the three-time world champion was full of praise for the departing Cross.
‘Voltage’ entered Judgement Night a point adrift of a resurgent Daryl Gurney, who had reeled off back-to-back wins to boost his survival hopes, but the Northern Irishman was beaten by world champion Peter Wright on Thursday, which meant Cross would avoid the drop with victory over ‘Duzza’.
The 2018 world champion had struggled since the tournament’s resumption – claiming just five legs across his games against Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith, but he produced a much-improved display against Durrant – albeit to no avail.
Cross averaged over 103 but found himself 5-0 behind, courtesy of clinical combination finishing from the unflappable Durrant. For the second night in succession, the Teessider converted a magical 167 checkout, which left Cross needing to win seven consecutive legs to survive.
The world No 4 responded admirably, producing finishes of 124, 81 and 90 for a trio of 12-dart finishes to reduce the arrears to 5-3, but Durrant held his nerve to complete a 7-4 success with a 106 average, to seal Cross’ Premier League fate.
“Rob’s a World Champion and he acted like a champion tonight,” admitted Durrant. “I like Rob but I had to focus on myself and I’m really happy with the win.
“My belief is really coming through at the moment and I’m playing really well. It was a big thing for me to change my flights and it’s working well – I’m scoring well and finishing great.
“I’ve practised hard during the pandemic and I’m feeling relaxed on stage. The three days have gone perfect for me and it’s an exciting time.
“It’s down to the nitty gritty now and I’d love to finish in the top four – I’m not thinking of winning this tournament at the moment. It would be an amazing night to be in the Play-Offs.”
Gurney will have been a relieved man after succumbing to Wright in the evening’s penultimate tie, which saw ‘Snakebite’ miss double 12 for his first televised nine-darter in leg five of the contest.
Wright is up to second after claiming five points from a possible six since the restart, whilst Nathan Aspinall moved up to third courtesy of a 7-5 win over Michael Smith. Both men performed magnificently, only for ‘Bully Boy’ to squander EIGHT darts at double for a point in the decider.
Defending champion Michael van Gerwen has topped the league phase in his previous seven Premier League appearances, but the world No 1 slipped to fourth with defeat against two-time winner Gary Anderson.
The night’s other clash saw Gerwyn Price move to within a point of the Play-Off places with a whitewash win over ‘challenger’ Jermaine Wattimena. The Dutchman endured a nightmare evening and Price sealed the deal in less than 12 minutes, featuring finishes of 96, 114 and 164.
Following Cross’ elimination, the attention now turns to the race for a top four spot and Friday’s action is headlined with a clash between World Cup partners Wright and Anderson, whilst league leader Durrant takes on Price to kick off proceedings.
Van Gerwen will be hoping to avoid a third consecutive defeat when he meets Aspinall, who defeated MvG on Night Three, whilst Gurney – fresh from his great escape – faces Smith.
Unibet Premier League
Thursday August 27
Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Nathan Aspinall 7-5 Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen 4-7 Gary Anderson
Jermaine Wattimena 0-7 Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright 7-4 Daryl Gurney
Glen Durrant 7-4 Rob Cross
Friday August 28 (1900 BST)
Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Glen Durrant v Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright v Gary Anderson
Nathan Aspinall v Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney
Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC