Jubilee Edition - ENHANCED
SAINTS SUFFER HOME SETBACK
Sturminster back in bottom three after loss
Only Cradley of the ten top flight sides have a lower ranked heat leader trio than Sturminster, so it’s no surprise that last years division two champions have yet to pick up an away point in SL26, while a second home defeat of the campaign this week has left them back in the relegation zone. With the real prime riders out of reach, promoter Trevor Walker has tried everything in a bid to ensure the club doesn’t suffer the same fate as in their only previous top flight season, just 24 points all year left them relegated with meetings to spare in SL24. Walker’s recent £80,000 addition Henry Mason maintained his consistent ‘good’ form at second string as the Saints played host to Warrington this week, his paid nine though not enough to prevent a 44-46 defeat to the Vikings, a side they began the week level on points with. Branislav Misencik (3+2) promised much after finishing second to Enar Kiseljov (12) in a heat one 5-1 for the Saints, however his only other point was returned against the point-less Darren Field. Walker is likely to ‘rest’ the Slovakian from next weeks fixtures after adding Russian Dmitry Bazarov to the squad, the 26 year old joining from Krakow for £50,000, another throw of the dice, maybe this time a double-six will result. For Warrington Tom Ranshaw (12) and Danny Forbes (12+1) both picked up three heats wins before clinching victory with the minor places in the last, the club now unbeaten in four and have moved two points clear of the relegation zone, however having been held to an earlier home draw by bottom side Cradley, Derek Moody will still be looking down, rather than up.
A shock away win to end a nine meeting losing run for Cradley was on the cards at Warrington until the very final race, where a Danny Forbes (17)/Tom Ranshaw (12+2) 5-1 denied the basement side victory in a meeting they had led in from heat one. A Patrick Prenner (9) winning 5-1 in the opener had taken Darren Evans side in front, further maximums followed in heats eight and ten from the visitors, new signing Ermin Zavrl second to Daniel Reid (8) in the latter, the Slovenian—a bargain three figure buy from Malmo—top scored with 9+2 on debut. He missed out on double figures after finishing third in the decider behind the home side’s top two, Cradley having to settle for a point, that though one more on the road than then had in SL26 prior to this week. However it was soon back to business as usual for the Stars, a home loss followed to Dover, 40-49, the Silkmen climbing out of the bottom three after the win, completed with heat 14 and 15 5-1’s.
His eighth successive appearance in the final brought Bobby Branch a maiden British title, the 29 year old Stoke number one claiming his first major reward in what must be considered his best season to date of his 14 year career, a third successive heat win of the night in Swanage securing him top spot in the meeting by a point from world number 11 Peter Coulson (2nd), Mark Smith (3rd) and Glyn Ferrell (4th), who fought out a race-off for the minor podium places. Branch—and the rest of the top eight from Swanage—will meet the best from the Pacific round in the Overseas Final next month, the top three in that meeting—won by Branch in SL22—receive automatic berths in this years GP series. Putney’s Daniel Southwood (12) topped an American 1-2 in this season’s Pacific Final in Richmond alongside shock podium finisher, Bruce Towse (11).
A double bonus point home victory over Nottingham earned Stag Hill a place in this season’s Division Two Cup semi finals, Peter Coulson (14+1) unbeaten in the 57-33 win over the Jazz as they set up a last four tie with Group A winners, Bracklesham. The Rhinos had completed their qualifying fixtures prior to this week, and only big wins for both Reading and Newcastle could have denied them a semi final spot, as it was the latter lost at Kent and went out, the Whiteknights beat Woodhouse 54-36 to go through in second from the group, next up for them a two-legged tie with West Ham.
With Trentham failing to get anything near the size of win they required at Buckingham (49-41), Herne Bay’s eight point home win over Stonebridge was enough to see them take second spot to runaway winners Black Country in Group B of the Division Three Cup qualifiers. The Titans face Milton Keynes in the last four, the Magic having topped their section from fellow qualifiers Bilston after beating the Bull Terriers 48-42 in the group decider.
Success in the cup for Milton Keynes was marred by a fourth home league defeat of SL26, the Magic losing out 42-48 to Trentham, who close to within two points of the Division Three promotion places as a result. Elsewhere Stonebridge moved off the bottom for the first time in ten weeks after extending their unbeaten run to four with victory at Buckingham, the 39-51 win the Stars first ever in double figures on the road in their nine seasons in the sport.