Crown Edition - ENHANCED
Saints bounce back to reach last four
Southamptonresponded to a first leg home loss by winning at Timperley to reach the final of the Division One Cup for the fifth time in nine years. It was the fifth time they’d faced the Titans this season, but this their first win in the sequence of meetings that had previous been settled by no more than two points. At 43-47 the result was decisive, Southampton progressing by two points on aggregate thanks to a last heat 5-1 from Goran Seslar (14+1) and Sergey Guerk (13+2) after Tobias Schneider (11) had been excluded in the first running of the race. The Titans out by the smallest of margins. It was a hugely disappointing end to a meeting that had started brightly for the hosts, Schneider and Kristian Norgaard adding to their side’s first leg advantage with a maximum in the opening race, while they went further in front with a 4-2 in heat two. Guerk and Seslar would come together in heat five to peg the SL26 winners back with a 5-1 in heat five, and they did so again in heat nine after the Titans had regained their six point lead on the night. Tactical substitutions weren’t needed again by John Shuttler’s side, who kept within spitting distance until pouncing in heat 15. Another close run thing at Eastbourne in the second of the semi-finals where the hosts this time progressed against Birkenhead by two. The Hyenas looked like they’d put it to bed after going ten up on the night, eight on aggregate, as early as heat six. But they were left needing a third 5-1 in heat 15 to progress after a strong fight back from the visitors, that provided to them by Harry Myers (14) and Tom Coutness (11+1).
Timperley’sdefeat to Southampton was their third at home since the injury to Ricky Lewis. Their second suffered when Halesowen made the trip to the Robinson Arena for a league fixture earlier in the week, 14 points from Andy Daniel and a paid nine from fellow Brit at second string Jordan Baker, the backbone for the Heathens 42-48 success. The result sees third placed Timperley slip six points off Birkenhead in the title race, Halesowen, now right in the battle for at least a European Cup spot, a further three adrift, albeit in seventh spot. Birkenhead managed to increase their advantage at the top despite dropping their first home point of the campaign with the visit of Timperley later in the week, the meeting finishing all square despite a winless return from visiting guest, Ryan Govier (6). Reserve Ulrik Eliassen (11) raced to three heat wins in Birkenhead’s earlier 37-53 demolition of bottom of the table Rugby, the margin of victory their biggest ever in league racing. It was a score matched by Auckland at fellow relegation zone sitters Sawley, second strings Kevin Hatch (9+2) and Henri Tuomala (7+1) both racing to a brace of heat wins in the rout.
A second tier double remains well and truly alive for Greenhill who reached the Division Two Cup final with a single point aggregate win over Bullbridge. Colin Bradford scored paid ten for the visitors as he moved down to reserve after the change of averages which bisected the two legs of the semi-final, he helping keep the visitors in contention before Steve Burton (9) and Sebastian Blasiak (8+1) pounced with a 5-1 in the final race at the Bandits, the visiting top two had scored just six points apiece in the meeting prior to the decider. Greenhill, in their first final, will take on Grangemouth, who are in their fifth, for the silverware. Second string James Rogers (10) raced to three heat wins as the SL20 and 21 winners defeated Coleshill 55-35 to progress from the second of the semi-finals by 22 on aggregate.
A last heat fall by Maris Korablev (12) in the second leg of their last four tie with Kingsgate denied Birstall a place in the final of the Division Three Cup. The Kings progressing by two on aggregate despite this weeks 51-39 defeat. The two sides also met at the same venue in the league, this time the Kings pulling off a 44-46 victory despite number one Pavel Kulvajt (6) failing to win a race. Those points help second placed Kingsgate close the gap to leaders Nottingham to just the eight points, and it’s the Red Knights that the Kings will face in the final of the Division Three Cup, they coming back from a first leg loss at Sunderland to progress from their semi-final tie by four with an impressive 54-36 home victory.
A second home nation GP win in three years has brought Timperley’s Tobias Schneider (12) into the World Championship reckoning. The German world number seven climbs to fourth in the standings following the success in Kassel, completed with a race off win over Dragan Boskovic. Andy Daniel (8) still leads the way despite picking up just one race win.
Sawley’s Henry Saunders (14) beat pre-meeting favourite Lewis Clay in a race-off to land the BU21 crown at Birkenhead. It’s the third major title for the 19 year old, who won both the WU19 and BU19 finals last year.