PDC Home Tour: Cross cruises into semi-finals with commanding display
Rob Cross cruised into the semi-finals, becoming the highest ranked player to do so, with a commanding display in Group Five of the PDC Home Tour Play-Offs.
Cross, who becomes the second Premier League player to progress joining Gary Anderson, defeated both Daniel Larsson of Sweden and his biggest threat on the night Ryan Searle in his opening two matches.
He then carelessly squandered the opportunity of completing a clean sweep in a 6-5 defeat at the hands of recent nine-dart hero Luke Woodhouse.
Cross, the world number four, opened the evening’s action with a hard-fought 6-3 victory over Swedish number one Daniel Larsson.
A closely contested clash remained with the throw for the first six legs, and, with Larsson well placed to steal the darts, Cross pinned a magnificent 107 checkout.
Missed doubles then proved costly for the Swede in the remaining legs, as Cross got off the mark with a 91.49 average and six out of nine on the outer ring.
Woodhouse, who threw a nine-darter in his kitchen during the first phase of the innovative tournament, then made his welcome return, only to be on the receiving end of a rampant performance from Searle.
Searle recorded an impressive 98.79 average and pinned checkouts of 138 and 146 in the midst of a terrific start to his Play-Offs campaign.
Devon-based Searle constructed an early 2-0 advantage, only for Woodhouse to battle back and level up proceedings at three-a-piece.
The pair then shared 14-darters with combination checkouts, before Searle held his throw with a blistering 146 checkout and sealed the deal with an 11-dart break.
Woodhouse remained in place for the third match of the evening as he surrendered a 5-3 lead, with Sweden’s Larsson keeping his hopes of progressing alive.
Cross and Searle, both of who won their tour cards via the 2016 Challenge Tour, then clashed in seemingly the title-decider.
‘Voltage’ led 3-0 and 4-1 in the encounter, though, a scintillating spell for Searle saw him convert four maximums in two legs and move within one adrift of the former world champion.
Cross then broke back in the eighth leg with a 13-darter, before cementing his place at the top of the table with a 15-dart hold on double four, after Searle had previously claimed an additional leg to his name.
Searle immediately returned to winning ways in a closely-matched affair with Sweden’s Larsson, with both still in the reckoning of clinching progression to the last eight.
Searle, who broke his PDC ranking title duck earlier this year in Wigan denying Michael van Gerwen in the final, raced into a 4-1 lead despite not managing a leg below 15 darts.
Larsson then teased a comeback with back-to-back 16-darters, before Searle claimed two of the next three legs in 14 darts or less to keep his hopes in the balance.
Cross needed a mere three legs in his culminating clash with Bewdley’s Woodhouse to become the fifth player into the semi-finals, and executed what was needed despite enduring defeat.
The Hastings-based thrower, who currently remains set to defend his World Matchplay title at the backend of July, registered a meagre 70.30 average in a narrow 6-5 loss.
The PDC Home Tour resumes on Sunday evening as birthday boy Chris Dobey returns to the fray in the hope of progressing to the semi-finals.
Canada’s Jeff Smith, Dutchman Martijn Kleermaker and reigning European Darts Matchplay champion Joe Cullen will be vying to scupper his celebrations.
PDC HOME TOUR PLAY-OFFS
Saturday May 30
Rob Cross 6-3 Daniel Larsson
Ryan Searle 6-4 Luke Woodhouse
Daniel Larsson 6-5 Luke Woodhouse
Rob Cross 6-4 Ryan Searle
Ryan Searle 6-4 Daniel Larsson
Luke Woodhouse 6-5 Rob Cross
Sunday May 31
Joe Cullen v Martijn Kleermaker
Chris Dobey v Jeff Smith
Martijn Kleermaker v Jeff Smith
Joe Cullen v Chris Dobey
Chris Dobey v Martijn Kleermaker
Jeff Smith v Joe Cullen
(Featured Image: Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics)