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Sharks slipping out of title race

A run of five league meetings without a win has seen the then leaders Brighton slip to fourth in the division one table and seven points off top spot. Nick Ward has had to juggle his line-up since the second change of averages, he going without Glyn Ferrell—the most experienced rider in his squad—for the two most recent home top flight fixtures. Both ended in defeat for the Sharks. The latest beneficiaries of their hospitality were Stoke, with their 41-49 victory meaning they have now taken at least a point from six of their last 11 league visits to the Aqua-Dome. Seven wins from their heat leaders provided the backbone to this weeks success, Tom Ranshaw (12) earning three of those, in contrast their opposite numbers managed just four in total despite all being used as tactical substitutes. Ward was forced into changes early on after his side fell ten behind with the concession of 5-1’s in heats three and five, those in turn won by second string Joseph Fisher (6+1) and Charles Trosky (8), the same two riders were involved in back-to-back 4-2’s from heat 11 onwards which all but put the meeting to bed. The win lifted Stoke out of the relegation zone for the first time in nearly three months, with a later 49-40 home victory over Desford leaving them three points clear of the drop zone as we head towards the halfway point of the campaign. News of an injury to Fisher caused by a fall in that second league meeting of the week has been mitigated somewhat by the full transfer to the club of Lasse Hinsch, the 24 year old Dane likely to slot straight in at second string following his £225,000 arrival.

TODAY: Shorts

West Ham closed within two points of leaders Swanage after becoming the fifth side to win at Nottingham in the league this season. Anthony Norwood top scored with 14 for the Dockers in the 42-48 success, he leading around second string James Myers—who finished with season best figures of 10+3 from five—for a 5-1 in a last heat decider.


West Ham led a clean sweep of British wins in the first round of this season’s European Cup. Last years runners-up completing a convincing 72-108 aggregate victory over Oslo with a 40-50 win in Norway this week, which sets them up with a last four tie with Putney. The Spitfires slipped to a slender defeat in Malmo but progressed to their eighth semi-final tie in nine years by 20. Defeat too for Swanage on their first trip away from these shores in four years, the Swans though securing their passage through with two races to spare of the tie, despite the 49-41 loss in Pori. They face Peak Dean next, the Plunderers back in the competition after a 17 year absence with a bang, a 43-47 victory in Pila completing a 24 point first round aggregate success for Stuart Smith’s side.


World number six Tommy Leinonen is out of this years World Championship after scoring just six points in this weeks Scandinavian Final. The top averaged rider in the field missed out on a place in next months Play Off round after he was beaten by Jan Tervo in the final race of the night. Tervo (13) finished second on the podium to Dover’s world number 14, Ole Johannesen (14), the top three—which also included another of last years GP stars, Espen Askelien (10)—earn the first automatic places in this years GP series.


A second successive victory for a Woodhouse rider in the BU21 Championship. But not the expected one. Holder Aaron Gilbert (14) missed out on retaining the crown after his team mate William Freeman (15) followed up his victory over the defending champion in heat three with four more race wins, it’s the first time a club has had a 1-2 in the 19 year history of the competition. The top seven from this weeks final in Tresco will represent Britain in the WU21 Championship, Philip Hart the last home nation winner of that back in SL26.


A winless week for leaders Warrington has seen their advantage at the top of division two cut from five to three points. Second placed Milton Keynes taking a share of the spoils when the two met in the North-East, a second place finish in the final heat from Thomas Dolezal (12+1) securing the Magic a vital away point. Warrington however took the bonus by two, which allowed third placed Bilston to close up on the pair, the Bull Terriers having picked up two of the three points on offer from their draw at Reading. That result a setback for the Whiteknights, who had boosted their survival hopes earlier in the week when recording their first away victory of the campaign on their trip to Bolsover. A last heat 5-1 securing a 43-47 success for David Grainger’s side at the basement sitters. Elsewhere much improved fortunes for Dudley Wood, who’d lost their previous two league fixtures. Two wins this time, including a 40-50 victory at Lothian, where Bobby Branch (15) finished the night unbeaten.


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