Rob Cross beats Phil Taylor 7-2 to win World Darts Championship
1 January 2018, 17:05
Rob Cross ended Phil Taylor's hopes of a fairy-tale finish to his legendary career, beating the 16-time champion to win the World Darts Championship in his first year as a professional.
Twenty-eight years after a virtually unknown Taylor had won his first final on his debut with a 6-1 victory over Eric Bristow, Cross repeated the feat with a spellbinding performance to dismantle the tungsten titan.
Twelve months ago, Cross watched from home as Michael van Gerwen beat Gary Anderson to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy but on New Year's Day at Alexandra Palace it was the former electrician who claimed a spectacular triumph, becoming the first man to win the PDC tournament on his debut since Raymond van Barneveld in 2007.
Averaging 107.67, the third highest in the history of the final, and hitting 11 180s, Cross was too hot for Taylor to handle throughout and the new champion shared his winning moment by handing the departing legend the trophy after the presentation ceremony.
Throughout the tournament, all eyes had been on The Power and the ultimate end to his professional career. However, the 57-year-old fell at the final hurdle in his quest for title number 17, losing to a player he had never played before and who was a virtual unknown a year ago - and even six months ago - to the non-darts audience.
Instead, Cross, who was not even born when Taylor won his first title on his debut in 1990, finishes a dream first year as a professional with a winner's cheque for £400,000, a place in the Premier League, a position as the new world no 3 and the sport's most prestigious title.
Cross' victory was only Taylor's 13th defeat in his 29 World Championships and he leaves the stage for the final time having failed to end the perfect finish to a career that last saw him crowned champion in 2013.
Taylor was playing in his 21st final having won 16 of his previous 20 but Cross joins Dennis Priestley, John Part, Raymond van Barneveld and Anderson as the only men to defeat the Power in a World Championship final.
Taylor was far from poor, averaging 102.26, but Cross was too good with the fifth set proving decisive after The Power threatened for the briefest of moments.
Voltage had powered into a 3-1 lead but with Taylor having won the fourth, he took the opening leg and then fired eight perfect darts for what would have been a magical nine-dart finish, but he did not even manage to claim the leg as Cross stole it and reeled off the next two for the set.
Cross maintained his level throughout to wrap up a remarkable story, fittingly taking out an outrageous 140 finish to seal one of the sport's most remarkable stories thanks to a pair of treble 18s and double 16.
Taylor had won the throw for the bull in the practice room and handed the darts to Cross, but as has been the case across his debut season he showed remarkable poise after a pair of spectacular walk-ons with a 14-darter to hold throw. Taylor responded in kind, pinning his favoured double 16 to settle any early nerves.
Cross fired off the first couple of maximums of the match and it was Taylor who cracked first, missing darts at a double to level the opener after Cross piled on the pressure before taking out double 16 for the set.
It was more of the same from the younger man, who took out double 16 for an early break in the second with Taylor wilting under the pressure and the debutant excelling - showcasing his skills with a sensational 167 to clinch the second set.
A relentless Cross showed no let-up in the third, hitting Taylor with a barrage of big scores and another huge finish, a spectacular 153 clinching a stunning 3-0 lead as a slightly subdued Ally Pally watched on in awe and disbelief.
But Taylor is nothing if not resilient and was spurred on by a big finish of his own, taking out 151 for the first of three straight legs to reduce the deficit to two.
With the crowd finding their voice, Taylor continued the assault by winning the opening leg of the fifth and then finding eight perfect darts for what would have been a magical nine-dart finish. He nicked the wire of double 12 and a clinical Cross pinched the leg himself, taking out 83 before an 11-dart leg gave him the lead in the set.
Taylor missed one dart at double 18 for a 153 and was punished again, 25 cleaned up by Voltage to reestablish the three-set lead.
Cross then claimed a 6-1 lead by winning six of the next eight legs, with his combination finishing a joy to behold as well as his astonishing success on double 18 - pinning the double for a 10th time since his last miss in the quarter-final against Dimitri van den Bergh.
Two darts for the opening leg of the eighth set went begging for Cross as he wobbled for, perhaps, the first time. Taylor took his chances to claim the next two legs - the first time since the fourth set of the match he had taken two in a set. And just like then, he claimed a third in succession to reduce the arrears to four.
But it merely delayed the inevitable as Cross swept to a remarkable title before lifting the trophy and being hailed as the sport's next big thing by its departing and trailblazing 16-time champion of the world.
Attention now turns to the rest of the 2018 season with the Premier League underway from opening night in Dublin on Sky Sports on Thursday, February 1.
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(c) Sky News 2018: Rob Cross beats Phil Taylor 7-2 to win World Darts Championship