Rob Cross completed a World Series double Down Under with a crushing 8-1 victory over home favourite Damon Heta at the 2023 PalmerBet New South Wales Darts Masters.
Cross, who celebrated victory at last weekend’s NZ Darts Masters, made it back-to-back titles with an emphatic victory over Australian number one Heta in Wollongong.
Heta famously defeated Cross to win the Brisbane Darts Masters in 2019, but there was to be no repeat at the WIN Entertainment Centre, as the 2018 World Champion scooped the £20,000 top prize.
Cross kicked off his campaign with a routine win over DPNZ qualifier John Hurring in Friday’s first round, before defying a ton-plus average from Danny Noppert to win a high-quality quarter-final tie.
The world number five recovered from 4-3 down to end the Dutchman’s spirited resistance, before averaging 109 to whitewash Peter Wright in a sensational semi-final display.
The 32-year-old produced a brace of 11-darters in his rout of two-time World Champion Wright, converting 64% of his attempts at double to cap off an imperious performance.
Having won ten legs without reply in reaching Saturday’s showpiece, Cross punished early misses from Heta to establish a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Australian was desperately struggling in the scoring department and Cross capitalised, extending his remarkable run of winning legs to 17 to move a leg away from a whitewash success.
Heta avoided that indignity by taking out a 68 skin-saver with Cross poised on double 18, but this simply delayed the inevitable, as Cross sank double eight moments later to cap off a demolition job.
“It feels fantastic. It’s surreal,” reflected the former World Matchplay champion, who ended his two-year wait for a televised title in Hamilton last weekend.
“The crowd have been brilliant all tournament. I’ve really enjoyed my time in Australia and New Zealand, and I’m very grateful.
“Damon didn’t turn up in the final and I feel for him a little bit, but you’ve still got a job to do.
“I think I’m in a good place after the last couple of weeks. I’m enjoying my darts again.”
Heta delighted the partisan Australian crowd in Wollongong with thrilling wins over Gerwyn Price and Dimitri Van den Bergh on Finals Day, but he fell just short in his bid for glory on home soil.
The 36-year-old fired in a 152 finish and a match-winning 124 combination in his 6-3 win over top seed Price in the quarter-finals, before producing a superb comeback to deny Van den Bergh.
The Belgian led 5-3 in a race to seven, but after reeling off three consecutive legs to turn the tide, Heta then landed a timely 14-darter in the decider to reach his first televised final of 2023.
Despite succumbing to Cross in the evening’s finale, Heta’s exploits saw him awarded the Kyle Anderson Memorial Trophy – created to remember the late Australian.
Anderson, a World Series winner at the 2017 Auckland Darts Masters, was a hugely popular figure on the PDC circuit, before sadly passing away two years ago.
“This is massive. This means more to me than winning the title. I’m lost for words,” said an emotional Heta, who was a childhood friend of Anderson’s.
“If it wasn’t for Kyle, I might not even be here. He led the way for myself. He showed us the path, and I’ve stepped up and tried to take over.
“I’m absolutely stoked. This is definitely something I am going to treasure for ever.”
Elsewhere on Finals Day, Wright dumped out World Champion Michael Smith in the last eight, running out a 6-3 winner in a scrappy affair dominated by missed doubles.
Van den Bergh, meanwhile, ended the hopes of Australian icon Simon Whitlock at the same stage, averaging almost 98 before losing out to Whitlock’s World Cup team-mate Heta in the semi-finals.
2023 PalmerBet NSW Darts Masters
WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong
Saturday August 12
Damon Heta 6-3 Gerwyn Price
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright 6-3 Michael Smith
Rob Cross 6-4 Danny Noppert
Damon Heta 7-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Rob Cross 7-0 Peter Wright
Rob Cross 8-1 Damon Heta