Jubilee Edition - ENHANCED
Swans claim unlikely Pairs win
Having finished five points behind Newark in their semi final, and three adrift of Dover in round one, not many had given Swanage hope of landing the Pairs title in the decider at Nottingham this week. However despite sneaking through to what was only their fourth Pairs final in 18 years the Swans—represented by Martin Ata (13) and Benny Henriksson (12)—stormed to their second success in the competition, maximum points against first round winners Dover in heat 16 all but securing them the silverware, Stag Hill’s failure to pick up more than two from heat 17 taking the Swans over the line with still four races remaining. The 5-1 against Dover had been the third in succession scored by the Ata/Henriksson pairing, it following full houses against expected challenger’s Putney in heat nine and then over Newcastle three races later. There’s no doubting inflicting Putney’s second 5-1 reversal of the first half of the final gave the Swans the confidence they needed to push on, Ata’s power from the gate on the dusty circuit saw him pull clear, Henriksson though had to work hard for his two points, those reward for a brilliantly judged last lap pass on the disappointing Jukka Peteri (3). With Newcastle dispatched in a similar manner Swanage held a two point lead over Stag Hill at the two-thirds mark, third placed Stoke were five adrift, the two already fighting for second. Stag Hill—one of two second division sides in the final—held on to take the runners-up spot, but it was Swanage left celebrating, 16 months a long time for a club of their size to go without silverware, and this piece was certainly a bonus.
Guest Cameron Richards (11+1) went from first to third as West Ham conceded a 5-1 in a last heat decider in their home league fixture with Warrington, the Vikings winning the meeting 43-47 as a result, the victory their third in a row at the venue. Danny Forbes (14) and Tom Ranshaw (12+1) picked off Richards in successive laps, the pair had been the fastest two riders around Custom Court all evening and deserved their success, Forbes would have taken a maximum if he’d have started on the bike he finished with, number one choice discarded after he was beaten by nearly half a lap by Richards in heat three. Richards apart West Ham were disappointing, worryingly their own heat leaders Tomas Jaager (8+1) and Erko Teever (6) picked up just one heat win between them in nine races, both have seen their GSA’s slip into the sevens at the first change.
Swanage celebrated their Pairs triumph be becoming the fourth different leaders of the division one table in the opening six weeks of SL27, a 61-29 rout of West Ham—who went without second strings Steve Marshall and James Myers in order to maintain their start of season GSA’s—taking them a point clear of Putney in the standings. Home reserve Aaron Rowley scored a season best 10+4 from his five rides in the victory which helps earn the 20 year old a GSA of above three for the first time—his mark now 6.71—earlier in the week Rowley (6+3) was one of just three heat winners for the Swans as they earned a draw on their division one trip to then leaders Stoke. A dropped point at home for the Wildfire, and another in their away fixture, Dudley Wood happy to get a share of the spoils against the champions having trailed them from heats three to 14.
Can you drop a rider averaging over nine and get away with it? For Sturminster the answer was no, the Saints losing the league’s only 100% winning record with a home defeat to Dover, 42-48, as Trevor Walker omitted Branislav Misencik (9.82 CMA) from his side to take on the Silkmen. It was the first time Dover had taken any points at the venue in seven attempts, Mark Smith (14) and Peter Kascak clinching both with 5-1’s in heats 13 and 15. One defeat became two with Sturminster later losing at Nottingham 47-43, Dmitry Bazarov (9.45) absent on this occasion, however Walker’s gamble could pay off long term, the Russian having gone from second string to reserve in the squad as a result ahead of the next six rounds of league racing, plus their return to Nottingham in the Division Two Cup. Meanwhile Dover followed up their win at Sturminster with a 61-29 home success over Bilston, they end the week top of the division two standings as a result, however the size of victory has not helped their averages, the combined GSA of Phil Watmough’s septet now nearly three points over the 47 point team ceiling.
Another team in average trouble are division three leaders Benfleet, a 44-46 victory at Bedwyn helping boost the marks of Magnus Bohman (11+1), Dennis Aldridge (9+1) and reserve Simon McCarthy (7+2) who all impressed in a great all round team performance as the Robins claimed their second away win of the campaign.