'Phenomenal' Daryl Gurney bows out to ruthless Rob Cross in Ally Pally classic
DARYL GURNEY bowed out of the William Hill PDC World Darts Championships at the hands of a ruthless Rob Cross despite a sensational display in a thrilling third round contest at the Alexander Palace.
Both players traded blows in an exceptional, high scoring seven set classic and it took an outrageous 170 checkout from 2018 PDC World champion Cross to clinch a 4-3 victory in the end and set up a fourth round meeting with the winner of Gary Anderson and Ian White.
They may have been familiar foes at the Oche but it was the first meeting between the pair on the world championship stage and it was an encounter which was well worth the wait!
Indeed, the match produced an incredible 23 maximum 180s and seven ton-plus finishes as the 'Ally Pally' crowd were treated to a show of relentless darts.
The in-form Cross was 3-1 up at one stage but Gurney fought back, taking the fifth set with an average of 102 and then somehow survived several match darts to tie it up at 3-3.
Cross, who took the scalp of former world champion Raymond van Barneveld in the previous round, paid tribute to Gurney afterwards for his part in what was a memorable match-up and agreed the Tullyally thrower was 'back to his best' after a 'phenomenal' performance.
"Daryl, all night, I just couldn't get him away from me," said Cross. "I didn't actually feel like I played well tonight. I know I hit a few 180s and I'm up for it but I never did the job. When I could've finished it earlier I should've finished it."
Cross recorded the most maximums in the tournament so far with 13 but both players played their part in a thrilling night of darts as they produced sensational darts throughout.
"Daryl is a phenomenal player, a great player," he added. "You don't win two titles on the TV if you're not. He's back and I hope he has a great year next year unless he meets me."
The reigning two times European champion believes he can now go all the way in the tournament.
"After the previous set missing match darts I caused that and had to dig myself out of it and do the right things and that's exactly what I did.
"I believe I'm better. I believe because I've got the experience now I know what I'm doing. To be fair I should've ended it earlier but I didn't and then I showed my class in the end."
Both players recorded big scores from the outset with 22 seed Gurney throwing a 106 checkout to take the first leg. Cross responded with a 147 finish in the second, however, despite four missed doubles, Gurney won the third leg with a double 16 out to take a 2-1 lead in the set.
Cross forced a fifth leg after holding his throw and then produced an 11 darts leg, including a 180 combination, to break Gurney's throw and win the first set.
The Englishman held his throw at the start of the second set to secure a third straight leg but Gurney was hardly discouraged as he responded with a maximum to open the second leg. Despite missing three darts at double eight, Cross closed out the leg to even up the second set at 1-1.
Cross then produced a superb double 18 checkout to take a 2-1 lead leaving Gurney with a tough task, needing to break his opponent's throw to stay in the set. A 162 visit to the oche for Cross applied serious pressure on Gurney but the Derry man held his nerve to even it up at 2-2.
A seventh match 180 came at the perfect time for Cross, setting up a 108 finish to take a two set lead and Superchin knew he was up against it as he made his way off the stage with a grimace.
It was an exhibition of high scoring finishing from Cross and that was the difference but Gurney wasn't finished yet and he had the advantage of throw going into the third set.
An emphatic 13 dart hold of throw gave the Derry man the perfect start but Cross responded with his second 11 dart finish of the match to level it up at 1-1. Gurney was composed and took the third leg but missed double top to break Cross for the first time in the match. Nevertheless, he managed to hold his throw in the deciding leg to get his first set on the board. It was a very strong set from Gurney who averaged 102.88 in the process!
The fourth set once again went the distance and despite being 2-0 down at one stage, it was Cross who held his nerve to clinch it and regain a two set advantage with nine 180s and a 99.4 average from the 2018 champion.
Gurney fought back to win the fifth set 3-2 with a 102 average but all Cross needed to do was hold his throw in the sixth set to win the match and keep his world title hopes alive.
Easier said than done but a 10 darts finish against the darts left Cross two legs up and Gurney needed to break his opponent's throw to stay in the tournament.
The 2018 Grand Prix champion delivered in the next leg and held his throw to take it to a deciding leg as Superchin simply refused to go away.
He produced a 76 finish to break Cross' throw and take the match to a seventh and decisive set as an enthralling match-up continued to deliver.
Gurney once again found himself 2-0 behind and chasing the match and despite a brave fightback and a 116 finish to take it to 2-1, it was Cross who clinched the set with an outrageous 170 out to progress to the next round.