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WILDFIRE TAKES HOLD

Stoke stun rivals

A run of one league win in seven left Stoke just three points off the relegation zone mid-season, form which they’ve turned around completely, with SL27 now set to surpass their achievements of the last campaign. Fours wins in three different competitions this week has boosted their bid for silverware, with the European Cup now all but theirs following a 57-33 win over Putney in the first leg of the final. Their maiden season in the competition looks to be a winning one, the last first time winners were their defeated visitors a decade back. The Spitfires were this year looking for a record extending sixth European Cup success, but that is surely going to have to wait, five 5-1’s in the last seven heats of the opening leg for the home side pretty much ensuring there is no way back for them in next weeks return. Especially if Stoke repeat the fight shown in the two club’s Division One Cup semi final tie, Putney were on course to win that and progress to a third straight final after a first leg draw in Staffordshire, however five points from Finn’ Jan Tervo in the space of two races helped turn the tie in favour of Stoke, the 20 year old reserve brining back a 5-1 in heat eight, before following up with a second a race later, defeating home heat leader Pavel Vonasek (6) in the process. Vonasek was also beaten by all three visiting heat leaders on a poor night for him, including Brian Bell twice, who ensured Stoke would head into the final three races at Tibberts Corner five clear with the second of those victories. Putney got themselves right back in contention with a 5-1 in heat 13, however it was advantage Stoke once more after a heat 14 Jarno Gronlund/Tervo 4-2, a second from Branch in the last completing a single point aggregate victory. Stoke celebrated their win double over Putney with another success in the capital, this time at West Ham in the league, where a paid 13 from Tervo helped them to a six point success, the win their sixth on the road of their league campaign and one which sees them end the week a point off top spot in the standings. Gronlund—who scored 10+1 at West Ham despite a heat ten retirement—has since joined Herne Bay on loan, a move arranged for the club to comply with the 52 point squad limit and one which certainly weakens their second string department, 20 year old Charles Trosky returns from his spell at the Titans, where he averaged 7.10.

 

TODAY: Shorts

Newark joined Stoke in the final of the Division One Cup following a 42-48 last four second leg win at Swanage, heat 13 and 15 5-1’s from Alexey Otyutskiy (15) and Cameron Richards (12+2) in the Days Park meeting taking the Invaders through by 22 on aggregate. Newark will be making their sixth appearance in the final in seven years, they won the competition in three consecutive seasons between SL23 and SL25.

 

A maximum at Days Park in the Cup, but no joy for twice World Champion Alexey Otyutskiy (8) in the GP Play Off meeting there, a heat 19 win over Vayk Kari (9) and Daniel Southwood (5) not good enough for a top seven berth required for a GP spot. Southwood’s World Championship dreams also came to an end in the meeting, the world number three won the British GP last season. Kari’s second in heat 19 though was good enough to see him qualify to the series for the first time, Cameron Richards (10), Eugen Dworrak (9) and Daniel Mucha (9) will also be making their debuts in next weeks Danish GP after ‘Play-Off’ success in Swanage. The qualifier was won by Reading’s Craig Chapman, he one of three Brits to have qualified for the series.

 

Putney put behind them their cup disappointments to win at Newcastle 44-46 and go top of the division one table for the first time in four months. A heat 14 second place from Ante Laurie (9+1) was enough to confirm the Spitfires fourth away win of the campaign. Newark are up to third after they picked up a point for a draw at Brighton, however Swanage drop from top to fourth after their home meeting with Dudley Wood also ended all square, Ighli Giacomini (16) and Esa Kuqi (9+1) ended the Swans 15 meeting winning league run at Days Park with a last heat 5-1.

 

Double delight for Dover who qualified for the Division Two Cup final by two on aggregate with a 50-40 win over Stag Hill, before extending their winning league run at Wirral and their lead at top of the second tier standings. Those now stand at seven meetings and 13 points respectively, second string Alexander Holden (8) twice a winner for the visitors at the Warriors, who are now without a league win in five and just two clear of the drop zone. Dover will take on Reading for the Division Two Cup silverware, the Whiteknights qualifying for a first final in any competition in their 17 year history with a 18 point last four win over Sturminster. Bedwyn and Kent meanwhile completed wins in their Division Three Cup semi final ties.

 

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