Buoyant Cross thrilled to return to winning ways on the big stage

Rob Cross (Photosport)

Rob Cross was in buoyant mood after ending his two-year wait for a televised title with victory at the New Zealand Darts Masters in Hamilton on Saturday.

Cross produced a superb comeback to defeat Nathan Aspinall in a dramatic last-leg decider at the GLOBOX Arena, rallying from 5-2 adrift to scoop his second World Series of Darts crown.

The 32-year-old also landed three ton-plus finishes in his semi-final success against reigning champion Gerwyn Price – his first win over the Welshman for almost four years.

Cross then fought back brilliantly to deny Aspinall in an enthralling finale, following up a 14-dart skin-saver with an 88 finish in the decider to clinch his first TV title since October 2021.

“To win this title is absolutely amazing,” insisted Cross, who also defeated Host Nation representatives Warren Parry and Jonny Tata on his way to claiming the £20,000 top prize.

“At the moment, every chance you give Nathan he normally takes, but he let me off a little bit later in the game, after I missed some opportunities early on.

“I felt like I gave it away in New York [at the US Darts Masters]. I didn’t find the leg when I needed to, but I’m just really happy to win again.

“When you can win [a title] when you’ve not been at your best, it speaks volumes about where my game is.”

Cross slipped from fifth to eighth on the PDC Order of Merit following his first-round exit at last month’s World Matchplay, but he’s enjoyed a welcome return to form in 2023.

The 2018 World Champion claimed a maiden European Tour title back in May, and also added a ninth Players Championship crown to his haul just weeks earlier.

Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen are the only players to have won more titles than Cross this year, yet he’s refusing to get carried away, despite his resurgent run.

“Whatever you’re winning, you’ve got to be great because the standard is so high,” admitted the two-time European Champion.

“I’ll look in a few months and see where we’re at, but I am just living in the moment for the minute.

“It’s all memories. When I pack up eventually, I will look back and see what I’ve won and remember the great moments and people along the way.”

Following Cross’ success in Hamilton, the sport's stars will cross the Tasman Sea to Australia for the second leg of the World Series' Oceanic double-header in Wollongong.

The PalmerBet NSW Darts Masters will be held at the WIN Entertainment Centre on August 11-12, with World Champion Smith and World Series of Darts Finals champion Price also set to headline.

World Matchplay champion Aspinall will be aiming to maintain his blistering form, with Australia’s former World Cup winners Damon Heta and Simon Whitlock set to lead home hopes.

PalmerBet NSW Darts Masters
August 11-12, WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong
PDC Representatives

Michael Smith (England)
Peter Wright (Scotland)
Gerwyn Price (Wales)
Rob Cross (England)
Danny Noppert (Netherlands)
Nathan Aspinall (England)
Dimitri Van den Bergh (Belgium)
Damon Heta (Australia)

Oceanic Representatives
Simon Whitlock (Australia)
Mal Cuming (Australia)
Darren Penhall (Australia)
Dave Marland (Australia)
Brenton Lloyd (Australia)
John Hurring (New Zealand)
Joe Comito (Australia)
Harley Kemp (Australia)