Unibet Premier League

Thursday 12th April 2018

FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield

Following the elimination of Mensur Suljovic and Gerwyn Price from the 2018 Unibet Premier League last week as they filled the bottom two spots after the first round of fixtures, the season moved on to the FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield for night ten and a top clash between second placed Michael Smith and third placed Rob Cross.


Seperated by just two points in the league table with seven matches to play, both players were looking to strengthen their Play-Off hopes with a win and two more valuable points.


Going into the match Cross had an excellent record over Smith on the PDC Pro Tour, with more victories over the St Helens man than any other player he had faced. Six victories and one defeat. The most recent of those victories came when Cross ended Smith's perfect start of four straight wins to this year's Premier League with a 7-5 victory in Leeds five weeks ago. Smith had bounced back since then and had only had one further defeat and that was against world number one Michael van Gerwen.


Going into clash Cross said "It's brilliant - I look forward to it every Thursday whether it goes right or wrong!


"All the games are going to be tough but I've got used to the Premier League now and I feel good, I'm nice and relaxed.


"Now maybe I'm looked upon that I should win but it doesn't always happen that way and I'm still learning.


"I've only had 15 months as a professional and I'm nowhere the finished article, and I'm going to carry on learning for the next two or three years."


Smith started the opening leg with five perfect darts. After six darts thrown Smith was on 181 with Cross on 287 but it was the former electrician who took the leg as he followed up with a 180 and a 107 finish (T19, 18, D16) for a 12 darter.


Cross won the second leg in 16 darts to go 2-0 up, this included a score of 162 (T18, T18, T18) and a double sixteen finish at the third attempt with Smith left waiting on 40 after fifteen darts thrown.


Smith got his first leg on the board as he took out double five after missing a chance at double top for a 76 finish and two darts at double ten. This time it was Cross left waiting on 36 as Smith won the leg in 18 darts to trail 2-1.


The world champion missed a dart at double eighteen for an 83 finish as Smith broke his throw to level the match with a second 180 and an 81 finish (19, T12, D13).


'Bully Boy' then kicked off the fifth leg with another maximum and won it in 14 darts to lead 3-2 by hitting double eight after a miss at double sixteen.


Cross fired back with a stunning run of form as he took the next four legs in 13, 12, 13 and 12 legs to lead 6-3  The first of those was finished off with a double eighteen finish, then in the second Smith missed a dart at the bull for a 121 finish after Cross produced back-to-back scores of 177 and 180 to leave a 62 finish (10, 20, D16).


The second of the 13 darters was won with scores of 93, 121, 139, 132 and a double eight finish and the third 12 darter of the night had scores of 99, 180, 140 and an 82 finish (25, 17, D20).


Cross had a chance to win the match in the next leg but fired high of the double twenty wire as he attempted to take out 80 after hitting two single twenties. Smith won the leg in 17 darts to trail 6-4 by taking out double fourteen at the third attempt, having missed it for a 148 finish.


In the next leg Smith missed another dart at bull, this time for the big fish, a 170 finish, eventually winning the leg by hitting double ten at the second attempt with his next throw for a 15 darter with Cross trailing back on 78 after 12 darts thrown.


The match went into a final leg with Cross leading 6-5. Cross opened up with a 93, Smith followed it with a 95. They both then hit 180's and Cross hit 94 to leave 134. Smith appeared to blow away any chance of gaining a point by scoring 43 with his next throw, leaving 183. Cross now had six darts to win the match and set himself up with a score of 86 to leave 48. Smith could only manage to follow up with a 46 to leave 137 and Cross hit sixteen, double sixteen to win the final leg in 14 darts and make it seven Premier League wins in eight matches, joining Smith on 14 points, four adrift of league leader Michael van Gerwen.


Cross averaged an impressive 106.26. Smith averaged 96.34


After the match Cross said "It was a massive win, I knew it was a big game coming into the night and I really enjoyed the game.


"I felt like my old self. I was oozing with confidence and it's nice to be like that, and I want to stay focused now and keep winning.


"I switched off in the last couple of legs but Michael never goes away. I had a chance to win it and missed but I really focused in the last leg and got over the line - I didn't panic."


Daryl Gurney 7-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson 7-2 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 7-1 Simon Whitlock
Rob Cross 7-5 Michael Smith
Peter Wright 7-2 Raymond van Barneveld

League Table


Pos Pld Won Drawn Lost Legs Points
1 Michael van Gerwyn 10 9 0 1 +38 18
2 Michael Smith 10 7 0 3 +23 14
3 Rob Cross 10 7 0 3 +11 14
4 Gary Anderson 10 4 3 3 +6 11
5 Daryl Gurney 10 3 5 2 +2 11
6 Simon Whitlock 10 4 2 4 -1 10
7 Raymond van Barneveld 11 3 2 6 -18 8
8 Peter Wright 11 2 4 5 -19 8