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Rob Cross dethrones Michael van Gerwen in sudden death classic to set up Phil Taylor show-down in World Darts Championship final

Cross records a historic win over MVG (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Rob Cross held his nerve in a compelling last-leg shoot-out to knock defending champion Michael van Gerwen out of the 2018 World Championship and set up a final with Phil Taylor, who powered past Jamie Lewis on Saturday.

In one of the most pulsating matches in World Championship history, Cross produced the performance of his career to deny the odds-on title favourite in a sudden death leg after the Dutchman had missed six match darts.

The duo each won 27 legs and tallied up a combined total of 31 maximums as they thrilled a capacity Alexandra Palace crowd in a contest which will live long in the memory.

Cross, who ended with an average of 101, becomes only the second player ever to reach a PDC World Championship final in their debut campaign as he continues his meteric rise.

"Words can't explain it, they really can't," said a shell-shocked Cross. "Obviously I've lost to Michael a fair few times but tonight was my turn.

"I'm confident in my own ability and I actually think if I come out and play like I can, near my best, then I actually believe I can keep up with Michael every day. 

"Obviously there are factors that mean I've not been able to do that but that just comes with being more comfortable. 

"I feel I could be better than what I have been but that comes with being more comfortable.

"At a point I felt inexperienced, I really did, but I managed to get through it and I'll make sure I'm right again for a couple of days."

The first set went the way of Cross in a deciding leg after Van Gerwen had missed one dart at tops to seal it.

Van Gerwen took out 116 en route to a 2-0 lead in set two, and after Cross had hit back to force a decider, MVG kicked in with back-to-back 180s in levelling the tie.

Cross produced an 11-darter in claiming the third set 3-1 before MVG took out 105 and landed a 13-darter in the fifth leg of the fourth set to restore parity once more.

The duo also shared the opening four legs of set five before Cross blasted in a roof-raising 161 checkout to wrap it up and go back in front.

A clinical response from the Dutchman saw him race to the sixth set without reply before 'Voltage' charged back with a 126 checkout to clinch set seven and lead 4-3.

Van Gerwen took out 95 on the bull as he coasted to the eighth set in consecutive legs and the world number one then swung the match in his favour by recovering from two legs down to snatch the ninth thanks to an 11-darter in the decider.

Cross hit back by landing double 18 an 81 finish and double four to send the contest into a fitting final set, in which MVG began brightly with an 84 checkout.

Hastings ace Cross took the next two legs to go within one of the winning line, but only for the two-time champion to land double 18 and force overtime.

One missed match dart at the bullseye from Cross was seized upon by 'Mighty Mike' as he made it three-all and the following two legs were shared on throw.

Van Gerwen capitalised on two missed darts at double 16 from Cross with double 12 to move to within a leg of victory but went on to squander five match darts and allow his opponent to force a sudden death situation.

Cross won the throw for bullseye but missed double 16 for the match and breathed a huge sigh of relief as Van Gerwen missed the same double on a 108 finish.

Despite the tangible tension, Cross calmly stepped up to convert double eight and defeat his Dutch nemesis for the first time in televised competition.

"I hate losing, especially in this tournament," A dejected Van Gerwen told RTL7. "I think I was better than Rob but on the important moments I could not bring something extra. But missing these doubles was extremely painful.

"There was nothing I could do about it. He played really well, all credit to him. But I should have won this. I can only blame myself and nobody else.  

"Of course he’s a great winner. But I think I deserved to win this match to be quite honest. I had six match darts and normally I don’t miss that many. I’m sick of it.

"I think this is just his year. He had the luck going for him. It’s that simple. Those doubles were so close on the wire. I’m sick about that. Normally that doesn’t happen to me and I’m the only one to blame for it."

Cross will now meet legendary 16-time World Champion Taylor in the final on New Year's Day after he dismantled young sensation Jamie Lewis by six sets to one earlier in the evening.

Taylor drew upon his vast experience to end the ground-breaking run of the 26-year-old Welshman and maintain his record of having never lost in a 21 World Championship Semi-Finals.

Taylor, appearing in his 29th and final World Championship, is now just one win away from ending his illustrious career in fairy-tale fashion by lifting the sport's most famous trophy for a 17th time.

"It was a struggle," admitted Taylor. "Jamie's one of the players who's very steady, very accurate, he doesn't show any emotion, doesn't show any fear, he's fantastic.

"I played on Jamie's lack of experience, that's all it was, he missed a couple of crucial doubles there. He had me, first two or three sets there I didn't know where I was and I was struggling. 

"At 1-1 I thought I was a lucky boy and I just kept picking up the pieces."

Lewis, who had become the first Preliminary Round qualifier to reach a World Championship Semi-Final, began in dream fashion by coming from two legs down to capture the first set.

That, however, would be as good as it got for the Carmarthen thrower as Taylor settled in to the contest and rolled back the years once more, punishing his young opponent for a series of crucial missed doubles.

Lewis wired one dart at double 13 for the second set and Taylor seized his reprieve on double eight in the decider to make it one apiece.

PDPA qualifier Lewis then missed a further trio of attempts at double 16 in the third set decider to allow 'The Power' to move in front for the first time.

The pattern continued as Lewis missed the bull for a 167 checkout to allow Taylor to force a decider, before squandering a further two chances to wrap up the set and watching the Stoke great hit double eight for 3-1.

Taylor turned up the heat by claiming the fifth set 3-1 before landing the 600th 180 of the tournament and edging the following set in a decider to extend his foothold.

Lewis took a 2-0 lead in set seven before Taylor finished 95 and double 16 to force another decider after the Welshman had missed two set darts, and 'The Power' pinned a 68 checkout to put the gloss on a commanding triumph.

"I was trying to blank it out but the occasion got the better of me," admitted Lewis. "Deep down I was thinking that I could be the last man to beat Phil Taylor in a World Championship.

"I had chances early on and misses a few crucial doubles, and Phil punished me. The pressure got to me a little bit but I will learn from it.

"My doubles have been good all week but I missed some today at important times as well which you can't do against Phil.

"It's a stepping stone for next year, I know the darts are there now so I just need to produce them next year now."

The final will commence at 8pm GMT on New Year's Day, with the winner pocketing a record £400,000 in prize money.

World Darts Championship 2018 Results

Saturday December 30


Phil Taylor 6-1 Jamie Lewis
Michael van Gerwen 5-6 Rob Cross

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Rob Cross dethrones Michael van Gerwen in sudden death classic to set up Phil Taylor show-down in World Darts Championship final

Rob Cross held his nerve in a compelling last-leg shoot-out to knock defending champion Michael van Gerwen out of the 2018 World Championship and set up a final with Phil Taylor, who powered past Jamie Lewis on Saturday.

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