RAMS TITLE BID GOES SOUTH
Scorpions in charge after win at Ramsgate
Ramsgatehad led the division one standings for the previous five months but a home defeat to Southampton means the title race is now out of their hands. The Rams themselves are powerless to prevent a first Scorpions championship win since SL11, with John Shuttler’s side entering the final two rounds of racing two points clear of Ramsgate after following up their 44-46 success at the Channel Arena with a 53-37 home win over relegated Sandwell. Southampton’s second victory on the Rams home circuit of the past two months—the first came in the final of the European Cup—was returned in a meeting they led from start to finish in, Paul Adams (11) and Borut Azizi giving the visitors the lead in the top of the table clash with an opening heat 4-2. Their advantage had grown to eight by the halfway point of the clash, Azizi and reserve Shane Reid (8+1) taking them there with a heat eight 5-1. Another Adams/Aziz 4-2 in heat 11 was a mixed blessing as it allowed home boss Phil Watmough to throw Bradley Law into heat 12, the tactical substitute claiming a win in a 5-1 which would bring the Rams back to within two points of the lead. Southampton however held their nerve to claim a tenth away league victory, albeit with a bit of luck thrown in, Jack Maynard falling in heat 14 to hand the visitors yet another 4-2, Adams then going on to seal the success with a second place in the last. Southampton’s all time record run of league victories now stands at 14, Ramsgate’s only hope is that in-form Laceby can bring that to an end on the final day, and give them a chance to snatch back top spot.
Recent results in the league have left Ramsgate fans feeling a little hard done by. They’ve won just two of their last seven in the top flight, but three of those other results were away draws and the other defeats were by less than three points. The Rams latest draw on the road came at Laceby, a meeting they led for the majority of. With the league title slipping from his side’s grasp, Phil Watmough may have to be content with just the two trophies this season, their second claimed this week in the final of the 4TT. It’s now four in a row in the competition for Ramsgate, who took the lead in this years final in the opening heat of leg one at Tottenham, and—but for one race at the start of leg two—were in front from that point on. Bradley Law (10) finished in double figures as the Rams quartet took a one point victory over their hosts in the opener, they took command of the final in the second leg, with their quartet—which as well as Law (12) also featured Shane Goodwin (11), Artur Kulyk (11) and Jack Maynard (5)—winning 11 of the 15 races to take their overall advantage up to 21 points. Southampton clawed some of that deficit back with wins in the last two legs, but still Ramsgate’s aggregate victory was an impressive 12 points.
The first of three meetings against Southampton in the final month of the season for Laceby ended in a home defeat in the KO Cup. A long way back from here for the Avenues in they are to claim their first major trophy in this competition, they will visit Michigan Park for the second leg six points down on the holders after conceding 5-1’s in heats 13 and 15 to Paul Adams (15) and Craig Rowntree (12+2). The result doesn’t bode well for Ramsgate, who will be looking for Laceby to do them a favour when they host the Scorpions on the final day of the league season.
Better in the league for Laceby—on the road at least—with a 44-46 victory at Altrincham taking the club up to an historic high of fourth in the standings. Altrincham had looked a shoe-in for a European Cup place in SL19, but having lost their last four in the league it’s now Quantock that are the ones in pole-position to take the final spot, especially given the Panthers final two meetings of the campaign are against the top two! Elsewhere in division one defeat at Sankey confirmed Cradley Heath’s relegation back to division two.
Exeter sealed promotion back to the top flight this week after two years away. Back-top-back wins sealed the Falcons a top two finish in division two, the first a 35-55 victory at already relegated Jericho, which was their biggest win on the road since SL3. Newquay also confirmed their promotion this week, however which club will take the third spot is still no clearer, the next four in the standings separated by just a point a present. In division three Buxton boosted their promotion chances with victory at Bolsover, while third placed Lye picked up an away point at Blackpool.
Off the podium for the first time this season but Marek Belic (10) extended his lead in the World Championship to ten points in Prague, leaving the Malmo star just six away from glory. The Czech round was won by Quantock’s Corey Worin (12).