Glory for Cross at the New Zealand Darts Masters

On Saturday in Hamilton, Rob Cross defeated freshly crowned World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall 8-7 to win the New Zealand Darts Masters championship.

On his route to winning his second World Series of Darts championship, Cross defeated the current champion Gerwyn Price as well, ending his two-year wait for a televised victory.

The 2018 World Champion also had to come back from a 5-2 deficit to defeat Aspinall in a thrilling finish at the GLOBOX Arena, preventing the Stockport star from winning consecutive televised championships.

Cross nearly got things started with back-to-back 12-darters, but he missed several darts to increase his lead and instead offered Aspinall an opening lifeline, which the Stockport star deservedly took advantage of.

After exchanging three throw breaks in a row, Aspinall increased his advantage to 5-2 with legs of 14 and 13 darts, helped by 171 set-up shots in back-to-back legs.

After Aspinall missed one dart at the tops for 7-5, Cross replied by winning four of the following five legs in 12, 14, 13 and 14 darts to close the margin to 5-6. He then tied the score at six darts each with a critical 64 outshot.

Aspinall broke to move one leg from victory, swinging the pendulum back in Cross’ favour, but he wasn’t about to be stopped. Cross followed up a 14-dart skin-saver with an 88 combination in the final to complete the comeback.


“To win this title is absolutely amazing,” reflected Cross, a Brisbane Darts Masters champion back in 2018.

“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.

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

“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.”

Glory for Cross at the New Zealand Darts Masters 
Glory for Cross at the New Zealand Darts Masters  (Stephen Barker /

In his quarterfinal matchup against newcomer Jonny Tata, who eliminated two-time World Champion Peter Wright in Friday’s opening round, Cross earlier in the night prevailed by another last-leg decider.

The 32-year-old then broke Price’s streak of victories in New Zealand by converting three tonnes or more of checkouts to triumph over the top seed 7-3.

Cross defeated Price for the first time since October 2019 with a clinical 120 combination and a pair of 124 finishes. He overcame Price’s four 180s and a 99 average.

Aspinall, on the other hand, easily advanced to the final four with a 6-1 victory over Haupai Puha, who was unable to match his performance from Friday’s first round victory over Dimitri Van den Bergh.

In an incredible semifinal triumph over World Champion Michael Smith, who went out despite averaging 107, the world’s fifth-ranked player then achieved his highest broadcast average.

Aspinall finished off the final five legs in 13, 15, 11, 11, and 13 darts to close out a 7-3 victory with an astounding 110.22 average after Smith opened the match with a trio of 12-dart holds.

Rob Cross (England), winner of New Zealand Darts Masters, with Hamilton deputy Mayor Ryan Hamilton, runner up Nathan Aspinall (England) and Mayor Paula Southgate, at Globox Arena, Hamilton, New Zealand. Saturday 5 August 2023. © Copyright Photo: Stephen Barker /

“It’s been another fantastic tournament for myself,” said Aspinall, who was appearing in another big stage final – less than a fortnight since his World Matchplay heroics.

“I’m still on cloud nine. I’m number five in the world and I’m getting opportunities like this. What an amazing arena, what an amazing country and I can’t wait to get back here next year.

“It does hurt to lose. Rob let me off in the beginning and I punished him for that. I shouldn’t lose the match from 5-2 up, but this is darts.

“Fair play to Rob. He played some fantastic darts after the break. I wanted to win, I thought I was going to win, but he put me under so much pressure at the end there, and he deserved to win.”


In the first quarter-final of the evening, Price defeated Danny Noppert, reeling off five straight legs and landing 122 and 132 finishes on the bull to win with a 105 average.

In another match, Smith defeated Australia’s top-ranked Damon Heta in the last eight after surviving three match darts. Heta had rallied from a 5-3 deficit to force a final-leg shootout.

The World Series’ top athletes will travel across the Tasman Sea to Australia for the second leg of the Oceanic doubleheader after Cross’ victory in Hamilton.


Fans in crowd during the final of the New Zealand Darts Masters, at Globox Arena, Hamilton, New Zealand. Saturday 5 August 2023. © Copyright Photo: Stephen Barker /

2023 NZ Darts Masters

GLOBOX Arena, Hamilton

Saturday August 5


Gerwyn Price 6-1 Danny Noppert

Rob Cross 6-5 Jonny Tata

Michael Smith 6-5 Damon Heta

Nathan Aspinall 6-1 Haupai Puha



Rob Cross 7-3 Gerwyn Price

Nathan Aspinall 7-3 Michael Smith



Rob Cross 8-7 Nathan Aspinall