Rob Cross produced a spectacular fightback from 15-9 down to deny Daryl Gurney a place in the 2019 World Matchplay final, while Michael Smith ended Glen Durrant’s dream run to set up a date with destiny in Blackpool.
A night of high drama at the Winter Gardens saw Cross stage a jaw-dropping recovery by reeling off eight consecutive legs to stun ‘Superchin’ and snatch a spot in Sunday’s final.
World number two Cross is now one game away from a first televised ranking title since his World Championship triumph in January 2018, an outcome that seemed unlikely when he trailed Gurney 14-7, before winning three of the next four legs to spark a revival.
At 15-10, Gurney missed four darts at double top to go within one of the match and Cross took full advantage, restricting the Northern Irishman to just two darts at double in an incredible onslaught which saw him level at 15-15.
Despite Gurney landing his 14th and 15th 180s of the match in the last two legs, Cross took the lead for the first time since leg seven at 16-15.
Gurney’s woes on the outer ring continued as he missed three more darts at double, this time double 12 to allow Cross to complete a breath-taking comeback with a last dart in hand double 16 to spark jubilant scenes among his fans.
“I feel absolutely amazing, this will stay with me forever,” said Cross, who will compete in a third major final in less than five months after finishing runner-up at the UK Open and Premier League.
“The crowd spurred me on to win it. I’m so thankful for their support and I’m so grateful to still be in the tournament.
“I wasn’t too bad in the first five legs but then it deteriorated. I missed a shed load of doubles and deserved to be behind. I was poor but as my scoring came back I really tried to put my foot down.
“I didn’t feel myself tonight so I’ve got to be right for the final, and I will be. If I’m ready, then anything can happen.”
Smith, meanwhile, wasted no time in re-acquainting himself with the Winter Gardens stage as he won nine of the first 11 legs, all in five visits or fewer to the board, to take a commanding 9-2 lead in Saturday’s second semi-final.
Durrant’s resilience saw him battle his way back to trail 8-12, but the Teessider was unable to sustain the inspired form which saw him sweep aside Adrian Lewis, Michael van Gerwen and James Wade in the previous rounds.
Smith dampened any hopes of a ‘Duzza’ comeback by winning the next three legs before continuing his relentless high-scoring and clinical finishing to close out the win and reach his second televised ranking final following his runner-up spot in the World Championship.
“I’m overwhelmed to be in the final – so happy,” said Smith . “It feels good, especially with the year I’ve had where everyone seems to write me off.
“I’ve shown that I can fight this week and I showed the mental attitude tonight – I had to prove a point.
“I got ahead of Glen and at 8-2 I knew that even if I lost the next two sessions 3-2, 3-2 then he was only making one leg up on me both times. I stayed focused and it all went to plan.”
“I’ve been in finals before and I have to get a win soon,” he added. “If it doesn’t happy tomorrow then I’ll be back stronger, but I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”
“As long as I keep believing that I’ll win one, I know for a fact that I will.”
Betfred World Matchplay 2019 Results
Saturday July 27
Rob Cross 17-15 Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith 17-10 Glen Durrant