Daryl Gurney and Rob Cross win World Matchplay quarter-final ties
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 27/07/19 7:41pm
Daryl Gurney prevailed in one of the greatest games ever seen at the World Matchplay to end Peter Wright's 20-match winning run, as Rob Cross edged a thriller against Stephen Bunting on a stunning night in Blackpool.
Wright was bidding to extend his remarkable unbeaten run and close in on a fourth consecutive PDC title, but the 2017 finalist was beaten in a Winter Gardens classic by an inspired Gurney on Friday night.
'Snakebite' averaged 104.57 and crashed in 12 maximums but it was not enough to defeat the third seed, who averaged 101.86, registered nine maximums, and crucially converted 52% of his attempts at double.
The two-time major winner will now take on second seed Cross for a place in Sunday's showpiece, after the 2018 world champion defeated Bunting in another captivating contest.
Cross dropped just eight legs in cruising through his opening ties against Chris Dobey and Krzysztof Ratajski, but he was given a thorough assessment by the former Lakeside world champion, who narrowly missed out on reaching a first major semi-final since 2015.
Bunting came close to quitting the sport 18 months ago but he showed tremendous resolve against the world No 2 and by virtue of reaching just his second televised quarter-final since 2016, he is assured of a return to the world's top 16.
Daryl Gurney 16-13 Peter Wright
Gurney ended Wright's incredible 20-match winning run after prevailing in one of the greatest games ever seen at the World Matchplay.
Wright defeated 'Super Chin' in the 2017 semi-finals but the Northern Irishman gained revenge - producing a nerveless display to withstand a brutal barrage of scoring from the Scot.
The opening leg of the quarter-final set the tone for a quality affair, with Gurney drawing first blood in a leg containing three maximums. The Northern Irishman led 3-2 at the interval, averaging 108.57 to Wright's 107.46.
The next two legs were shared before Wright fired in an 11-darter to level in leg eight, until the Scot missed double 19 for a 155 finish moments later. However, he responded in style, landing a 120 checkout to restore parity at five apiece.
'Snakebite' secured the lead for the first time in leg 11, following up five perfect darts with a break of throw, although Gurney responded in identical fashion to deliver an emphatic riposte.
Gurney regained the initiative with a sublime 11-darter in leg 16 after Wright had spurned an opportunity for a 10-dart hold. This sparked a sequence of four straight breaks, yet Wright stopped that particular anomaly with an imperious 11-darter of his own to draw level at 10-10.
The sixth seed set up potential 11-darters in successive legs on Gurney's throw but on both occasions he failed to capitalise, as Gurney edged 13-12 ahead.
Wright rallied and conjured up a magical 124 finish on the bull to square up proceedings but the Northern Irishman remained unflappable, following up a 13-dart hold with a crucial 70 combination to move to the cusp of victory.
Gurney had the throw for a 16-13 victory and he stormed to the finishing line, crashing in a ninth maximum and sealing his progression with a 14-darter on double eight to preserve his bid for a third major televised crown.
Rob Cross 16-14 Stephen Bunting
Cross fended off an inspired fightback from Bunting to prevail in a Winter Gardens epic and seal his semi-final spot with a 101.83 average and 13 maximums.
Bunting survived match darts as he fought back to defeat Gerwyn Price and Ian White to reach his first Blackpool quarter-final and he displayed more remarkable brinkmanship to give the second seed a huge scare.
However, four of the first five legs went against throw in a topsy-turvy start to proceedings. Bunting drew first blood with a 13-dart break only for Cross to reel off successive legs in 14, 13 and 15 darts.
'The Bullet' replied with a clinical 120 kill but Cross extended his lead to 6-3, courtesy of a sensational 170 checkout in leg nine. Bunting cut the deficit to 6-4 with a double-double 97 kill, but 'Voltage' began to take control and established a 9-4 cushion.
Bunting recovered from 9-4 down to defeat White in his previous encounter and the St Helens star enjoyed another blistering mid-game spell, taking out a 74 combination and landing a sublime 11-darter to reduce the arrears to 9-7.
Cross restored his cushion with a nerveless 116 finish although Bunting remained undeterred, following up clinical 88 and 87 checkouts by sinking double 15 to restore parity at 10 apiece.
The next six legs all went with throw before Bunting wired the bull for a 164 roof-raiser, which would have given him the lead for the first time since the opening leg.
'The Bullet' levelled at 14-14 via double eight but Cross showed his class when it mattered, landing a majestic 10-darter to move to the brink of victory, before following up visits of 180 and 177 with a 13-dart break to seal the deal in style.
Follow every dart from every session in Blackpool as the World Matchplay continues through to the final on Sunday. Saturday's semi-finals will see Glen Durrant face Michael Smith, and Rob Cross take on Daryl Gurney.