Jubilee Edition - ENHANCED
Leading clubs dominate Pairs
All ten clubs from the British league’s top tier will feature in the second round of the Pairs, holders Swanage and SL25 runners-up Newark given byes at the opening stage, with the remaining eight all qualifying through their respective first round meetings. Home advantage helped recently promoted Sturminster (24) claim top spot in their tie, Jarno Gronlund and Enar Kiseljov scoring back-to-back 5-1’s on their way to a single point victory over fellow qualifiers Stag Hill and Dudley Wood. At Cradley a heat one 5-1 for the home side was cancelled out by Nottingham in heat four, who picked up maximum points against the Stars, in the end both the Jazz and their hosts would go through in second place from the tie, one won impressively by Stoke’s (25) Bobby Branch and Brian Bell, who ended the night with three successive 5-1’s. The only non-top flight first round winner were Bracklesham, Radek Barteska and Ross Bailey’s 24 point total included maximum hauls against the pairings from West Ham and Buckingham, the two riders’ former club Brighton qualified through in third spot, behind the Rhinos and Dover. The top scorers in the first round were Tom Ranshaw and Danny Forbes, the Warrington pairing tallying 26 in defeating one of the favourites for the trophy, Putney, by a clear four points, a 5-1 decisively going the Vikings way when the two sides met in heat 14 of the contest. SL5 winners of the competition Kent finished a point clear of Black Country in the battle for the final qualification spot, leaving division three without a second round representative.
A 100% record in pre-season had given Stoke hope that they could gain a first ever league win on Brighton’s Agua-Dome circuit, the 13th such contest at the venue between the two sides began well enough for the visitors, with a 4-2 won by Bobby Branch (13) in heat three taking them six up. Brighton however had got themselves in front by the end of heat eight, and although they slipped behind again, 4-2’s in heats 13 and 14 gave the Sharks the advantage heading into the last. It would be Stoke’s Garry Pearce though who would end the night the happier of the two bosses, a victory on the south cost still illusive, but the smile was wide as Branch and Mark Windsor (10) picked up a 4-2 to ensure a point would be going back to Staffordshire. And with a home victory against Dudley Wood to follow that’s enough to see them top the table on points difference from Newark, who shared the spoils with hosts Dover in their opening day meeting.
The BU21 title was the only youth championship entered but not won by Phillip Hart last season, the Peak Dean starlet runner-up to Edward Brooks in last years final. No Brooks for the 19 year old to worry about in SL26 as he goes about completing the set, as expected he was untroubled in making his way through to the Desford final, he scoring a maximum in finishing a point clear of Brooke’s Wirral team mate Daniel Yates in his qualifier at Bilston. Black Country’s Dean Wood topped the standings in the second of the semi finals, the 20 year old—currently on loan from Bracklesham—scoring a 15 point maximum in the Newcastle meeting to record his maiden WSO event success.
As in their last promotion season in SL24, Wirral opened their second tier league campaign with back-to-back wins, however not a perfect week for the Warriors, who were defeated 41-49 by West Ham at home in the Division Two Cup. The Dockers overturned a six point deficit to win that meeting with two races to spare, 5-1’s won by Adam Peel (10+1) in heats ten and 12 setting up the success, completed with a Tomas Jaager (13) winning 4-2 in heat 13. Wirral recovered to record a double figure victory on their first ever league visit to Woodhouse, one which sees them top the division two standings on points difference from Stag Hill. The Stars away league success was returned at Nottingham, 43-46, unsurprisingly Marcin Bukalski (12)—on loan from Swanage—finding scoring a lot easier at the second tier level, he following up two heats wins in the main meeting for the visitors with a match winning second in the heat 15 decider.
League rookies Herne Bay top the third tier standings after racing to a shock victory at promotion favourites Desford, the oldest side in the division slow out the traps, conceding two 5-1’s and two 4-2’s in the opening four heats of the fixture. Four different visiting race winners became five when Scott Spencer won a heat six 4-2 for the Titans, Alexey Kruze made it six with victory in the next, seeing off home number one, Sasa Siegl. Any hopes of a Dynamos comeback were over when Oliver Garger (11) won a heat 11 5-1 for Herne Bay, who wrapped up the points two races later.