Michael Smith's remote chances of qualifying for the Unibet Premier League play-offs were finally extinguished last night (Thursday).
The St Helens star of the oche, who reached the final of the competition 12 months ago, suffered a humiliating 8-1 defeat against former world champion Rob Cross in Manchester.
It was his eighth defeat of the season in the prestigious event and he never recovered from Cross' early onslaught in which he won the first five legs, checking out finishes of 101, 78, 71 and 68 in the process, before Smith finished 68 himself to get off the mark in the sixth.
Cross, though, wasted no time in wrapping up the points with three successive 11-darters which sealed his ninth win of the season.
"I'm really pleased with my performance," said Cross. "I scored well in placed and my finishing was the catalyst to get me an early lead.
"It was important for me at 5-0 to maintain my concentration, and when I lost a leg I got a good reaction from myself. Once I started to spread my wings at 5-1 I started to score like I can.''
He added: "It's the tightest Premier League we've ever had and I want to keep my momentum going in the last two games ahead of the play-offs. It's crunch time now."