Darts: Rob Cross aiming to be leading light in Leeds

Rob Cross.
Rob Cross.
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Former world champion Rob Cross stands to enter an exclusive club - and earn the small matter of £25,000 - when darts’ Unibet Premier League hits Leeds tomorrow night.

The 16th night of the competition is the last before the play-offs and final in London and six of the eight players can still qualify.

Rob Cross.

Rob Cross.

Cross has already earned his place in the knock-out stages, but is one point ahead of Michael van Gerwen in the table and will finish as league leader if he beats James Wade at the First Direct Arena.

Only two other players, Phil Taylor (2005-2012) and van Gerwen (2013-2018), have topped the league table in the tournament’s history and this year the honour comes with a £25,000 bonus.

All four of tomorrow's matches will have a bearing on the league table with Gerwyn Price, Daryl Gurney, Mensur Suljovic and Wade all hoping to secure a play-offs spot and only Peter Wright and Michael Smith - runner-up to van Gerwen in this year’s World Championship final - having nothing to play for.

Cross is expecting an epic night of tungsten tension. He told The Yorkshire Evening Post: “Every game is important.

“Gerwyn Price puts himself in the mix with a win, Daryl Gurney puts himself in front and Mensur’s game is massive.

“I have got top-spot to play for against James and he’s not secured [a place in the play-offs] yet.

“I think this Premier League is the tightest one and there’s a lot more riding on it. Everyone who can get a place obviously wants it and you see reactions like last week when it matters so much.”

Gurney and Price had a bust up on stage after their 7-7 draw in Sheffield a week ago. Cross said: “I think it’s good for the game to show a bit of passion.

“Maybe not the way it was done, but at the same time it shows to the spectators everything matters.”

Van Gerwen has a better legs difference than Cross and will go top if he beats Suljovic or gets a draw from the penultimate game of the night, before Cross and Wade wrap things up.

World champion in 2018, after just a year as a professional, Cross said: “It would be a privilege to finish top, with only Phil and Michael having done it.

“It is hard to do, the Premier League is a hard slog. It’s not like a sprint, it is a marathon and you have got to make sure you are right every time.

“When I experienced it for the first time last year I found it very hard, the gruelling schedule of every week, week-in and week-out.

“Sometimes I lost my form and I have had a few blips this year when I haven’t played as well, but overall I’ve been happy with my form.”

Tomorrow's fixtures are: Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright, Daryl Gurney v Michael Smith, Michael van Gerwen v Mensur Suljovic, James Wade v Rob Cross.