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STEERING THE RIGHT PATH
Win at Stirling sends Stars through
A complete turnaround in the Division Two Cup standings with Steeple and Buxton winning their final group meetings away from home to reach the semi-finals of the competition. Alfreton and Chesterfield had already done enough to qualify from the top half of the draw, the latter will now face Steeple in the last four after the Stars topped their section following a 44-46 win at Stirling. Steeple—who had been eliminated at the first round stage nine years in a row prior to reaching the final of the Division Three Cup last season—led from heat two onwards in the Shore Road clash to reach the semi finals of the Division Two Cup for the first time, a 4-2 in the reserve race won by George Shields (6+1) taking them in front, Shields would add a paid win behind second string Harrison Parker (5) in heat eight. A steady performance by the visitors from that point on saw them claim the crucial victory, which was assured when Scott Read (11) and Morten Backer (10+1) beat Aaron Campbell (11) in the last. Tom Naylor’s side finish a point clear of Buxton in the standings, who won their crunch encounter at Mansfield, 43-47, a spell of three 4-2’s and two 5-1’s in the opening seven heats putting the Bees firmly in the driving seat. American teen Richard Greenhouse (6+3) was involved in two of those early heat advantages, he was later instrumental in gaining the visitors third 5-1 of the meeting, after frustrating home heat leader Oliver Pollard (9) in heat 12 to such an extent that he fell while attempt a pass that was never on. The resulting visiting maximum ensured at least a draw for the visitors, the win confirmed by Raymond Melton (8+1) two races later.
Stokebeat Willenhall 41-48 on the road to finish top of Group B in the first round of this seasons Division Three Cup. Damian Hodges (10+2) scored his first maximum of the year in the Bombers success, and it was his victory over home heat leader Lazian Eugeny (12) in heat 14 which secured them their last four spot. Wavendon go through as runners-up in that group despite not racing this week, the defeat for Willenhall and the draw between Ernsford Grange and Harringay keeping them safe in second. The Witches go on to face Swinton in the semi-finals, they won a three way battle for top spot in Group A on points difference ahead of Herne Bay and Bournville, with the latter cruelly denied a place in the knock-out phase. A 20 point loss at Herne Bay doing for them, with the Flyers securing a crucial second bonus point with a last heat 5-1 in the fixture, Jone Bergan (12+1) and Fiske Liljedal (11+1) claiming the decisive maximum for Tony Cope’s side. Herne Bay have now reached the semi-finals of the Division Three Cup in each of the four seasons they’ve featured in the competition.
Stephan Beck (12) made it three wins out of three in this years World Championship to reach the Grand Prix series for the third year in a row. The Belfast world number five though had to win a race-off in Mansfield to keep his run of successes going, he inflicting a morale boosting win over defending World Champion Jan Tomanek in the extra race. Mixed fortunes for the Brits in the qualifier, with Simon Snow (8) and Allan Robertson (8) sneaking through by a point, however Scott Read (6) missed the cut. Progress too for Garry Gould (10) in the second of the third round qualifiers in Krakow, world number four Julian Harrison (6) though was eliminated along with fellow home nation rider Adam Carroll (4) in a meting won by Malmo’s Tardos Rakoczy (13). The extended eight round GP series begins next week with the inaugural ‘European GP’, which is hosted by Totton.
Draws the order of the day when the second half of the division one season got underway. Leaders Sedgley dropped a home point for the second time in SL14 with the visit of Houston, the Colts on course to take all the points on offer until the previously unbeaten Matthew Gibbs (14) lost out to Beck Sundling (13+1) in the last. Earlier the Scots were grateful to take a point on home shale against Caversham, Garry Gould (13+1) the star for the Swans as they led for much of the meeting. Belfast cut the Sprites advantage at the top of the table from four to two points after following up their 50-40 win over Long Eaton with a later draw at Caversham, Gould and Isakov Pavel denying the Sinks a third away win of the campaign when scoring a last heat 5-1. Hallamshire’s meeting at Bradford also ended all-square.
Stirling fought back from six down to win at Buxton 42-48. Ethan Mason (17) and Erik Kann (11+3) scored heat 13 and 15 5-1’s in the victory, which helps extend the Seahawks advantage at the top of division two to six points. Meanwhile there are new leaders of division three win Herne Bay going top with a 40-50 win at Harringay, second string Luke Holden (9+2) amongst the heat winners at the Hoods, who bounced back from the loss to win at Stoke, 43-47, later in the week.