Belfast Telegraph

Cross cuts short Belfast SSE Arena party for fan favourite Daryl Gurney

Fans’ favourite: Daryl Gurney hails the huge home crowd at the SSE Arena in Belfast last night
Fans’ favourite: Daryl Gurney hails the huge home crowd at the SSE Arena in Belfast last night

By Frank Brownlow

Daryl Gurney's adoring fans turned out in their thousands at the SSE Arena last night to cheer on their darting superstar but it was last year's World champion Rob Cross who produced the goods.

Gurney, one of the Northern Ireland football team's biggest fans, entered a packed venue to Windsor Park anthem 'Sweet Caroline' but the big man from Londonderry only hit the high notes on occasion on an emotion-packed evening.

Gurney went down 8-4 on his second Premier League appearance in Belfast as clinical Cross - Michael van Gerwen's main rival for the title - dashed his hopes.

Cross averaged almost 105, hitting three ton-plus checkouts amongst 50 per cent of his darts at a double to maintain his own charge towards the Play-Offs.

After Gurney took the opener, Cross silenced the home crowd with legs of 12 and 13 darts to lead and, with another 12-darter, he moved 4-2 up.

Gurney responded with a crowd-pleasing 112 combination, but Cross claimed three of the next four to seal a point before securing the win by finishing 124 on the bull.

"I hit the big scores at the right times and I'm happy with the performance and the win," said Cross.

"I've been scoring big and doing the right things at the right times, and darts is all about timing. If you can deliver the big shots at the right time, they hurt."

The final match of the night was a thriller, World champion - and defending Premier League champion - Van Gerwen drawing 7-7 with Gerwyn Price, a result that keeps the Dutch master on track for the title and the £250,000 top prize.

Mensur Suljovic claimed his fifth victory of the season as he overcame James Wade 8-6, denying the 2009 champion the chance to snatch a draw with a 14-darter in the deciding leg which featured seven perfect darts.

Suljovic hit back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2, with Wade then taking out 96 to regain the lead before four successive legs - including a 10-dart finish - saw the Austrian move 7-4 up.

Wade finished double 10 with a superb 137 checkout as he took the game all the way, but Suljovic opened the deciding leg with two 180s and bounced back from missing out on a nine-darter to nail double six for victory.

"It's a brilliant feeling," said Suljovic. "James got 2-0 up but I had to focus on my game and I did that.

"To draw seven-all would have been good but I'm so happy that I got the win because James is a brilliant player."

Peter Wright and Michael Smith drew for the second time this season as they shared the spoils in a tight encounter.

Smith finished 108, 130 and an 11-darter in the early stages, but Wright claimed the first break in leg 11 to move 6-5 up with a 14-darter.

But Wright landed a 180 in the deciding leg before double four secured a draw in a dramatic encounter.

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