Crown Edition - ENHANCED
MAKE MINE A DOUBLE
Saints toast league and cup success
They left it late, but Southampton’s first taste of success in SL24 was quickly followed by a second, the Saints claiming the KO Cup in their penultimate fixture of the campaign, with the league title clinched in their final encounter. Lyme Bay fans had to witness both celebrations, first at home were a promising start for them to the second leg of the KO Cup final was extinguished by Sergey Guerk (16) and visiting reserve Lars Krogh late on, wins for the Saints number one in heat 11 and 13 was followed by a decisive success by the Dane in heat 14, the Buccaneers had wiped off 11 of their 18 point first leg deficit going into the final third of the clash. A 5-0 in the last saw Southampton in the end complete a comprehensive 16 point win in the final, they becoming only the third side to lift the trophy in successive seasons in the process. Their aim now to join an elite club of teams to land the division one title and cup double, only Rugby and Wimbledon of the current league clubs had achieved the feat before, a 48-42 home win over Lyme Bay ensured Southampton’s name would be added to the list, whatever rivals Eastbourne managed at Auckland. John Shuttler’s side crossed the line in nervous fashion, but crossed it they did with a heat 13 Sergey Guerk (15)/Goran Seslar (11+1) 5-1, home fans have seen many maximums by their lead pair at that stage of meetings this season, but none so enthusiastically celebrated, it giving them the point that would ensure them of a second league title as their first decade in the sport drew to a close.
Maris Korablev went into the final GP of the season with a six point lead in the World Championship, it took the 32 year old just three races in Krakow to convert that advantage into the gold medal, he becoming the first Latvian to win the world title with a heat nine victory over Tepi Harju, his closest rival for the title going into the meeting, Janne Vuorinen, finished last in the same race. A win over Gyorgy Eros four races later set Korablev on the path to finish the series with victory in the Polish GP, Eros though would recover to win the final race of the night to take that title. It didn’t matter to Korablev, more than ten years since his GP debut, the Harringay man had achieved his career goal and on this evidence he still has another decade in him, this could be the first title of many.
Stephen Jenison may have been the only British rider in this years GP series, the future however looks a lot brighter, with the podium in this season’s WU21 final filled with home nation riders at Rugby. Scot’ Trevor Putnam took victory but only after a race-off win over 18 year old Jordan Baker, the two finishing the night on 14 after Putnam—currently on loan at Lyme Bay—was denied a maximum in the meeting by teenage Swede’ Thomas Rosman (10) in heat 18. James Power finished third a point adrift of the top two having been beaten by both in the meeting. 20 year old Putnam has become the first rider to hold both the British and World Under 21 titles at the same time, his latest success already his 11th in his fledgling WSO event career.
A 57-33 win over Lakeside saw Cricklade become the third side to win promotion from division two this season, Gareth Glover’s Crocs set for top flight racing for the first time in what will be their eighth season in the sport. Timperley meanwhile completed the second tier championship with a penultimate round victory over Stone Cross, a year to the day since they lost their top flight status.
Birkenhead’s debut British League season has ended in promotion, the Glyn Hughes led side taking third spot in division three ahead of Preston despite a final day defeat to Rochdale. The Bombers had earlier beat Wolverton at home 48-42 to give them three vital league points, 29 year old Solvak’ Lubomir Gerich (15) scoring his ninth league maximum of the campaign in the win, only Harringay’s Maris Koravlev (with 11) tallied more in the third tier in SL24. Harringay meanwhile lost out on the divisional title after they suffered a first home defeat of the campaign, a two point loss to Rochdale handing newcomers Wroughton the chance to snatch the silverware, which they did by a point after gaining the bonus by four in their final day defeat at Wolverton.
Eastbourne completed a third successive Junior League title with back to back wins over closest rivals for the crown, Cricklade, the Hyenas—led by 21 year old Nick Nelson (10.91 Jnr)—finished top of the division one standings from the Crocs by eight points.
Despite a 14 point haul from George Spence England suffered a 39-51 defeat to new champions Hungary in Hull this week, and as a result are relegated back to Division Two of the International League.