LUKE ‘The Nuke’ Littler picked up more valuable Premier League Darts points in Exeter but missed out on the final.

The 17-year-old was knocked out 6-3 by Rob Cross in the second semi-final at Westpoint in a match where neither reached the form they showed in their opening match of the night.

Littler, who lived in Runcorn for the early part of his childhood, was hot from the start as he made light work of 2023 world champion Michael Smith in the night’s fourth quarter-final.

It was billed locally as a battle of the rugby league fans, The Wire v Saints, and the primrose and blue faithful would have been delighted with what they saw.

‘The Nuke’ ran out victorious 6-2, with his average running at just under 107.

The crunch leg was the sixth, Warrington-based Littler breaking Smith’s throw with a wonderful 140 finish featuring treble 18 twice and then double 16.

He laid a fine platform with 180s in four of the first five legs, including with his first three darts at the oche.

That paired him with ‘Voltage’ Rob Cross in a tasty-looking semi-final, a repeat of their world championship last-four showdown at Alexandra Palace.

Cross had also shown mesmeric form in his Exeter quarter-final, hammering Gerwyn Price 6-1 while averaging close to 110.

Littler was slow off the mark as Cross took a 2-0 lead but the first of two 180s in the match from ‘The Nuke’ helped him to break throw and then hold to square matters again.

But the teenager needed to break ‘Voltage’ again at some stage, and missed one shot at double 16 in the fifth leg before Cross checked out.

Again Littler levelled matters and missed another double in leg seven as he narrowly failed to break Cross and went 4-3 behind.

Disaster struck in the eighth leg as Littler missed three doubles, allowing Cross to go 5-3 in control.

Between them both nine shots at double were wayward in the ninth before Cross put the final nail in Littler’s coffin and book himself a first Premier League final in the current format, with Nathan Aspinall as his opponent.

Cross went on to fall 6-2 in the decider, with Aspinall celebrating his first Premier League win of 2024.

PDC Premier League Darts Night 5 results, Westpoint, Exeter, Thursday, February 29:

Quarter-final 1: Luke Humphries 6 Michael van Gerwen 3

Quarter-final 2: Nathan Aspinall 6 Peter Wright 4

Quarter-final 3: Gerwyn Price 1 Rob Cross 6

Quarter-final 4: Luke Littler 6 Michael Smith 2

Semi-final 1: Humphries 5 Aspinall 6

Semi-final 2: Cross 6 Littler 3

Final: Aspinall 6 Cross 2