Crown Edition - ENHANCED
SCANDI’S SCUPPER SAINTS
Royals youngsters star in cup win
Rugbyhave given themselves the best chance yet of ending their eight year trophy drought after reaching the final of this season’s Division One Cup. David Grainger’s current side built with a foundation of Scandinavian youngsters took the club into their first final of the competition since SL15, they lifted the trophy for the only time a year earlier. In contrast the Saints are regular participants at this stage of the competition, this their tenth semi-final appearance in 11 years. With just a three point lead from the first leg, Southampton went into the return at the Rowan Arch as underdogs, and Rugby were eager to prove that tag correct. Especially so Soren Soenksen (15), he setting the tone for the meeting ahead by blasting around Sergey Guerk on the opening lap of heat one to take victory. It was a first of five straight wins on the night for the 25 year old Dane, who was joined by Swede’ Balder Granholm (6+2) for 5-1’s in both heats six and ten. The Royals third Scandinavian Ulrik Eliassen (8)—who was left out from the side in the first leg—also made a blistering start to the night, beating visiting heat leaders Lee Anderson and Goran Seslar in turn to pick up back-to-back wins, the first in a 5-1 with reserve Joshua Daniels (8+2). Rugby had taken the aggregate lead with that 5-1 in heat four and held it throughout the night, but the fans had to wait until Soenksen completed his maximum in the finale to celebrate their side’s qualification to the final. In that final they meet Auckland, whose draw at Greenhill this week sent them through to the decider by 14.
With a two point lead from the first leg many thought a Division Two Cup semi-final win for Stone Cross was a formality. A much changed Nottingham side proved those predictions wrong at the Crusaders’ Boswell Gardens circuit, taking the tie into the very last race. Youngsters Zarek Wieczorek (6+3) and Ozor Erdos (10+1) were back in Michael Wright’s septet for the return, and back in the points. The two—who ironically have since left the club in other change-up—scoring at least a point in every one of their combined nine races from second string and reserve respectively, picking up three wins along the way. The third saw Erdos beat the Crusaders own key reserve Jordan Milne (7) to the chequered flag in heat 14 as the visitors took the tie into a last heat decider. Needing two for victory in the finale, Stone Cross took the maximum five on offer to progress by six on aggregate, the unbeaten Dusan Hobler (15) leading around Olga Burdin (13+1) to turn a nervy night into one of celebration for the hosts. It will be a second successive Division Two Cup final appearance for Stuart Smith’s side, who beat Grangemouth to win the competition last year, they will take on Birkenhead in this years final. The Bombers are there after expertly overturning a 12 point first leg deficit against Burrett Road on home shale this week, second strings Thomas Forsman (12) and Phillip Weber (11+1) both racing to a hat-trick of heat wins as their side strolled to a 56-34 victory in the return leg to progress by ten.
The hard work had been done in the first leg for Birstall as they eased their way into a maiden Division Three Cup final this week. After three successive losses at the last four stage their eventual 20 point aggregate victory over Bournemouth was a welcome one, 11 heat wins for the Bulls—four from 40 year old Yusup Knyazev (14)—as they completed their progression with a 52-38 win. A debut in the final too for their next opponents in the competition, Dundee, reserve Bradley Woods (8) amongst the heat winners for the Cakes as they progressed by six with a 50-40 home win over Wolverton.
It’s advantage Eastbourne at the halfway stage of the European Cup Final after the first leg of the decider at Southampton ended in a draw. A run of six straight wins for their riders got the visitors to Banister Court off to a great start, but with their youngsters at second string and reserve struggling to live with their opposite numbers the tables were turned in the second half of the meeting, and in the end Marc Labrum was more than happy to go into their side’s home leg level.
Harry Myers (13) became the third different winner of an unpredictable GP series to date. The 25 year old Brit taking victory in the German round for the second time in his career after topping the standings in Kassel from fellow Eastbourne rider, Pavel Kulvajt (11), Swinton’s youngster Ryan Webb (10) finished third. David Bjorge (9) now leads the World Championship standings, with Soren Soenksen (7) slipping to second.
Rugby’s Joshua Daniels (14) beat Alex Warren in a race-off to land the BU21 title in this weeks final at Loughborough. 19 year old Jamie Brewer (13)—who secured a big money move to Nottingham this week—finished a point behind the pair in third.