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Sunderland win latest qualifier

Sunderland will bid to become the first division three club to win the Club Pairs in the competition’s 30 year history when they line-up in next weeks final. An impressive victory on home shale for Ciro Gautieri (17) and Victor Bitkin (8) in the semi-finals make the Stars one of the favourites to win the Birkenhead decider, they finishing their latest tie three clear of Rugby (22) and a further four better off than Halesowen (18) who took the final qualification spot. 5-1’s against Halesowen and fellow top flight side Auckland (16) in the space of four races turned the semi-final the hosts way, and certainly against the Rhinos who had led the meeting early on. Auckland would go on to concede further maximums to Birkenhead and Rugby late on, leaving their bid for a first Pairs success in tatters. Sunderland will be looking for their second victory in the final, they winning the competition as a second division side back in SL20. The most likely winners however come from this weeks second semi-finals, in which Southampton made it two victories out of two in this years Pairs when Goran Seslar (12) and Sergey Guerk (12) scored a heat 19 4-2 over Sawley. A heat later holders Eastbourne (23) confirmed their place in the decider and the runners-up spot at Bolsover with a 5-1 over Stepps (17), who despite that late reversal qualified through as the highest scoring fourth placed side over the two ties. Stepps—who have returned to the league this season after three years away—won the competition back in SL13. Division three leaders Wolverton (20) qualified through from third.

TODAY: Shorts

For the first time in their history Eastbourne have won their opening four meetings of a league campaign. The defence of their title continued this week at Rugby, where the Hyenas made it three top flight wins on the bounce at the venue after picking up heat advantages in the final two races. The first a 5-1 from Harry Myers (10) and reserve Ian Ashton (6+2) saw the visitors regain the lead in the meeting, Myers went on to finish third in a last heat 4-2 won by Kasper Larsen (11). A shock defeat for Marc Labrum’s side followed however, they going down 42-48 at home in the Division One Cup to a Greenhill side that they beat in the same competition by 27 points in last years semi-finals. The Greyhounds won the battle of the top scorers in the decider, with Luca Romano (14) and second string Colin Bradford (10+2) continuing their strong start to the season by scoring a decisive 5-1 over home men Myers (11) and Pavel Kulvajt (10+1). 22 year old Bradford is currently averaging 10.25 from his four league meetings this season, with his GSA set to improve by over three points at next weeks change, assuming he completes the minimum six meetings. Meanwhile Auckland made a winning start in the other half of the Division One Cup draw, they beating Sawley 44-46 on the road after a late piece of luck, Thomas Klemmensen retiring from the lead of heat 13 to hand a 5-1 to the visitors.


Stone Cross have gone clear at the top of division two after making it four wins from four. The Crusaders began the week with a trip to Loughborough, where their heat leaders would dominate their opposite numbers. A fourth maximum of SL30 for number one Dusan Hobler (14+1)—who’d go on to make it six out of six in later Crusader home league and cup wins—the highlight, he ably backed up though by Derek Chandler (13+1) and Olga Burdin (11), who dropped just a point apiece. In all the top three managed ten heat wins, their opposite numbers just two. A strong response however from Loughborough, who went on to record their first ever win at Nottingham, 41-49. Much better from Gareth Savage at least, four race wins and a season best 12 from the rider who’d been averaging just 3.11 going into this weeks fixtures. It was however a heat 14 5-1 won by reserve Alexandr Golovskoy (7) which secured the Barons the points.


Lucky not to be relegated last season Purton are still looking for their first points in division two this. They sit bottom of the pile after two more defeats, the first came at home with the visit of Grangemouth, 41-49. A fourth visiting side 5-1 of the meeting wrapped up the points as early as heat 13, Matthew Wild (11) and Jari Annala (8+2) taking the Oilers over the line. In all four visiting riders were paid for double figure scores, including reserve Andrew Blatis (9+1) who opened his account for the night with wins in both heats two and four. Not so good for the Scots later in the week, they held to a home draw by Birkenhead in a meeting they had led in by ten after conceding a last heat 5-1 to Mikhail Smirnov (16+1) and Thomas Forsman (13+2). The Division Two Cup meeting between hosts Bolsover and Burrett Road also ended all square.


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