ROB CROSS and Michael Smith will meet in the final of the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay on Sunday after coming through their semi-final ties on a night of high-drama in Blackpool.
Cross produced one of the most incredible comebacks ever seen on the Winter Gardens stage to edge out Daryl Gurney 17-15, while Smith ended Glen Durrant's fairy-tale run with a convincing 17-10 victory.
World number two Cross is now one game away from a first televised ranking title since his World Championship win; 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 televised final in less than five months after coming 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."
Cross has also reached the UK Open and Premier League finals during 2019, losing out to Nathan Aspinall and Michael van Gerwen respectively.
"To be in a third consecutive major final is amazing," he added. "This venue is iconic and it will be special for me.
"I want to go up there and produce - I need to come out tomorrow and be ruthless. I'm really looking forward to the game."
Following the Cross-Gurney encounter, Smith 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 he was unable to find the form which saw him beat Adrian Lewis, Michael van Gerwen and James Wade in the previous rounds.
Smith poured water on any hopes of a Durrant 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 place at January's 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."
Smith also reached the 2018 Premier League final, and will be chasing the biggest title of his career when he challenges for the £150,000 title and the Phil Taylor Trophy on Sunday.
"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."
Cross is the 4/6 favourite with sponsors Betfred going into the final, with Smith the 6/5 outsider to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy.
2019 Betfred World Matchplay
Schedule of Play
Saturday July 27
Rob Cross 17-15 Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith 17-10 Glen Durrant
Sunday July 28 (1900 BST)
Michael Smith v Rob Cross
Best of 35 legs