Rob Cross becomes Betfred World Matchplay champion after defeating Michael Smith at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens

Rob Cross held off a superb fightback from Michael Smith to claim Betfred World Matchplay glory with an 18-13 success at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on Sunday night.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 28th July 2019, 10:20 pm
Rob Cross took the glory at Blackpool's Winter Gardens   Picture: Chris Dean/PDC
Rob Cross took the glory at Blackpool's Winter Gardens Picture: Chris Dean/PDC

Cross followed up his fairytale 2018 World Championship success with a second televised ranking title as he scooped the Phil Taylor Trophy and a £150,000 pay-day in style.

Having reeled off eight straight legs to win his semi-final against Daryl Gurney 17-15, Cross extended that run by opening the final with another nine in a row to move halfway to victory.

He began the contest with back-to-back 72 checkouts, and added an 81 combination for a 12-darter before punishing misses from Smith in three straight legs to pull clear.

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Smith had missed nine doubles during the opening six legs of that spell, but finally found his range to take out 84 in two darts to win leg 10.

Smith also won three of the next four to cut the gap, only for Cross to steady his nerve with finishes of 73 and 115 before punishing five misses from his rival to move 12-4 up.

The 2018 World Championship finalist hit back superbly with legs of 12, 13 and 12 darts as he pulled back to 12-7, before a last-dart double 16 from Cross gave him the 20th leg.

Smith, inspired by a capacity Winter Gardens crowd, claimed another three legs as he pulled back to 13-10, and after Cross finished 110, the St Helens man came from 250 points behind to win the 25th leg on double 18.

The next two were shared, before six misses from Cross allowed Smith to cut the gap to just two legs at 15-13 as he threatened to complete the greatest comeback in the event’s history.

The Hastings ace, though, held his nerve with another 72 combination and posted double 16 to move to the brink of glory and sealed the title with double four.