Falcons extend season with cup shocker
Exeter’sfirst season back in the top flight is set to end in relegation however their fans now have two cup finals to look forward to, the Falcons through to the KO Cup decider against league leaders Sankey after completing another 91-89 aggregate success. Buoyed by their comeback to reach the final of the fours last week, the Falcons beat the odds to see off Quantock this, and it was the club’s lead quartet that once again came good. Nine heat wins at Quantock for the main men, which included a crucial heat 14 success for £1 bargain buy Viktor Borissov (7+1) who was making his debut in the competition, the former Pori man holding off Craig Willoughby to ensure Exeter would lead by four heading into the last. Just about there the Falcons crossed the line with a second place finish from Luke Miller (11) in the decider, Quantock beaten by two just like Don Valley had been by the same opponents in the second round. Nick Howard was let down by his Polish spearhead of Wlod Szczepanski (9+1) and Jacek Wozniak (8), the two nine point men lacking the sharpness on the clutch of their rivals, the slick surface not helping any recovery and in the end they’d managed just one race win between them in their nine outings to the circuit. Exeter’s bid for a first success in the competition—they’ve been beaten finalists twice—concludes with a double header against SL13 and 14 winners Sankey, the Sharks progressed by six from their last four tie against Southampton following a 49-41 home second leg win, a victory rounded off by a heat 15 5-1 from Adams Roberts (14+1) and Simon Driffield (10+2).
Southampton couldn’t capitalise on a first league defeat in eight for Sankey, Laceby’s 12 point win over the Sharks matched by Quantock who beat the Scorpions to leave the top two separated by six points. Third placed Ramsgate faired even worse, their title challenge stuttering after being held to a surprise draw at home by Exeter. A fifth away point in four meetings may not be enough to save the Falcons, but it keeps their survival bid going for now at least, they’d be in a better position if the Rams hadn’t pulled off a 4-2 in the last, that not only costing the visitors a third away win of the campaign but also a shot at the bonus, the Rams picking that up by two. Elsewhere it’s was a ninth top flight defeat in a row for Newquay when they entertained Altrincham, the Knights didn’t go down without a fight however, eight down at one stage the hosts lost out 44-46 only after conceding a 4-2 in the last, Andy Rose (14) picking up his fourth heat win of the meeting in the decider. The Panthers earlier home meeting with Laceby also went to the wire, that ending all square thanks to a last heat 5-1 for the home side.
A home nation and club winner at Southampton as Craig Rowntree (14) bounced back from a dreadful opener in the GP series to win the British round of the SL19 campaign. Rowntree topped the final standings by a point from fellow England international Paul Adams, crucially Rowntree defeating his Scorpions team mate when the two met in heat five. Rowntree’s only defeat came in heat 19, that inflicted by Vadim Garin, but his second place was enough for him to clinch his second career GP success and his seventh WSO event win. World Champion Marek Belic finished third after beating John Crisp and George Farley in a race-off, in all British riders finishing in five of the top six positions. Opening round winner Belic still leads the series, but now only on count-back, Paul Adams moving level on points at the top of the standings.
Just when they thought it was all over Merseyside fans were in for a shock when their side played host to West Fife this week. Promotion in the bag it seems for the Marauders, but the long time second tier pacesetters may have to wait a little bit longer to celebrate as they went down 44-45 to the Rhinos who have been in the relegation zone for the vast majority of SL19. They end the week two points from safety after picking up their first away win of the campaign, reserves Graham Elrick (8+1) and Michael Bjerg (7+3) finishing as the first and third best scorers for the visitors, who claimed the victory despite picking up just five heat wins. Not so good in the Division Two Cup either for the Marauders, who are looking to win only their second trophy in their 19 year history this season, Sandwell holding their hosts to a 46-44 first leg win in the final this week, the Scorpions now favourites to claim what would be their third competition win in 19 years with their home meeting to come.
Dunmow end the week three clear at the top of division three after they picked up their fifth away point in as many meetings at Jericho this week. The Jack Russells own promotion bid dented as they were held to a draw by the leaders, who once again had trump card Ross Coyle (12) doing his stuff at reserve.