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OFF TARGET

Weymouth silverware bid falters

Back-to-back home defeats has left Weymouth on a losing run of five in all competitions, the league leaders advantage at the top cut from eight to just two points by Coventry this week, while Tibthorpe snatched the Division One Cup from their grasp in the second leg of that final. Weymouth’s home form has been that of a relegation side rather than one of champions in SL27, so far a brilliant record on the road—they’ve lost just eight from 22 on their travels—has more than made up for their issues at the South Coast Arena. But those woes struck again when they played host to their main rivals for the league title, Coventry winners by two following late retirements from Linus Muscic (12) and Davide Matteini (9+1), with a blown engine for the former in heat 13 handing a 5-1 to guest rider Vladimir Helbich (13) and Alex Skaper (9+2), the same pairing would pick up the minor places in the last after Matteini’s machine wouldn’t even leave the start line. Weymouth—who had drawn the reverse fixture on the road—and been looking to cement their place at the top with maximum points from the meeting, however all bets are now off in the title race, with Coventry taking all three points from this meeting and against Stafford at home later in the week. Weymouth’s week didn’t get any better, another guest—this time Joshua Sky (12)—top scoring at the South Coast Arena as Tibthorpe completed a six point aggregate win in the final of the Division One Cup with a 43-47 second leg victory, adequate back-up for Linus Muscic (17) again lacking for the hosts. The trophy success for Tibthorpe is their first since they won the Pairs back in SL21.

TODAY: Shorts

Coventry’s (48 points) win at Weymouth (50) has certainly brought the title race alive, however it’s far from a two horse affair, with Beverley (47)—who travel to Weymouth next week—just one win off the summit. The title holders closed to within three points of the Hitmen with a 40-50 victory at an already relegated Chiseldon side, who managed a paltry four heat wins on the night, a number surpassed by Richard Coward (15) alone and matched by Henrik Kojefors (13). Meanwhile Beverley’s earlier home win over Peckleton by the same score confirmed the Raiders relegation after four seasons in the top flight.

 

Warley have clinched the second tier double with a month of the season remaining, the Warriors sealing their promotion to the top flight and with it the division two title with a 44-46 victory at Houston, before going on to wrap up a Division Two Cup final success over Monkston. Vladilen Bunin continued his fine season on the Warriors trip north of the border, the trip to the Mustangs providing the 19 year old Russian with his fifth maximum in six league meetings. Warley have certainly benefited from the improvement of Bunin this season, the WU21 Champion playing a key role in an ever-present top four for the Adrian Heathcote promotion in SL27, which also features Aussie trio, Robert Pappas (10+2), Stephen Brown (9) and John Bingley (9). Against Monkston Bunin made it 30 points from 30 in the final with another full house in a second leg 57-33 home victory, the rout taking the Warriors—who also claimed the same trophy double in SL24—to the silverware by 22 on aggregate.

 

Marinko Krajcer (12+1) and Robert Petersson (13+1) denied Tavistock the last heat 5-1 they required at Bury to lift the Division Three Cup, the Buccaneers winning their first competition since they landed the third tier title 11 years ago after their top two beat Helmut Prager (10) in the last heat decider. Tavistock though took their revenge three days later, with the Hares hammering a huge dent into their promotion ambitions, Bury this time beaten at Barbury Cove 43-47 by the visitors, as home heat leader Fredrik Ren (7) finished winless in his five races. Bury (39 points) have slipped five points off third placed East Kent (44) as a result of the defeat, which leaves them without a league win in five. Belham Road (56) meanwhile secured their promotion to division two after picking up five points from a possible six, two returned for a draw at Witham (43), who will probably now need to win at East Kent on the final day to claim a top three finish.

 

Henrik Kojefors (13) increased his grip on the SL27 World Championship with his second GP win of the series to date, the currently world number one—who also finished runner-up in the third of the GP’s completed so far—taking the German crown in Kassel by a point from Jonathan Huggett and his team mate at Beverley, Richard Coward. Coward beat Kojefors when the two met in heat 17, however Huggett missed the chance to take the meeting into a deciding race-off when he finished behind Linus Muscic (11) a race later. Huggett did return to the track to take the runners-up spot on the night from Coward in an extra heat to decide the minor podium positions. Kojefors has now won a record 15 GP’s in a career spanning 38 meetings.

 

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