Rob Cross and Daryl Gurney set up a mouth-watering Semi-Final show-down at the 2019 World Matchplay after edging out Stephen Bunting and Peter Wright in epic contests at the Winter Gardens on Friday.
Gurney avenged his defeat to Wright in the 2017 Semi-Finals by wrapping up a 16-13 win to reach the penultimate stage for the second time in three years, while Cross denied Bunting 16-14 on a breath-taking night in Blackpool.
Wright was widely tipped to land a first Betfred
World Matchplay title, but his 20-match winning streak was ended by two-time major winner Gurney, who showed ice-cool composure to close out a high quality victory.
“It might’ve looked like I showed composure on the outside, but inside I felt like a little kid,” admitted Gurney.
“I know I’m never going to be the best player in the world, but I’m a grafter who can beat the best players in the world.
“Whenever people write you off before you even play it’s nice to prove them wrong.
“As usual I did it the hard way, but I’m through now and I’ve got a massive opportunity to win this title.”
Wright, who produced his tenth consecutive ton-plus average (104.57), landed the game’s first ton-plus checkout with a 120 to level the tie at 5-5 at the second interval.
With the game played at a scintillating standard, there was never more than two legs between the pair all the way through to 13-13.
After Gurney held throw, the 27th leg proved decisive as the Northern Irishman fired in a 180 and followed it up with a 70 checkout to break throw and go within a leg of the match.
Third seed Gurney then wrapped up the win in the following leg to remain in the running for a third major title in less than two years.
Earlier in the night, Cross produced two world-class legs at the end of his tight clash with Bunting to make it through to the Last Four in Blackpool for the first time.
Former World Champion Cross, who had failed to make it past the Last 16 in his last two Matchplay appearances, led from the third leg and landed the tournament’s second 170 checkout on his way to a commanding 9-4 advantage.
Having come from behind to win his two previous matches, Bunting once again showed his resilience to win six of the next seven legs to level at 10-10.
The game appeared to be heading towards a tie-break as the following eight legs all went with throw to make it 14-14, only for Cross to hit two crucial 180s in each of the last two legs which he won in ten and 13 darts to deny Bunting a hat-trick of dramatic comebacks.
“Stephen was incredible, he was a real credit to himself up there but thankfully I managed to hold tight and come on strong at the end,” said Cross, who fired in thirteen 180s.
“Towards the end of the game I managed to find my Premier League form and I think I showed nerves of steel.
“I’ve learnt a lot over the last two years and I’m starting to get there now. Hopefully there will be a happy ending for me here.
“If I play like I can then I’ve got every chance of winning it.”
Betfred World Matchplay 2019 Results
Friday July 26
Rob Cross 16-14 Stephen Bunting
Daryl Gurney 16-13 Peter Wright