Vipers too good for Rams
Simon Adzic and Bradley Law were left without a heat win as Don Valley completed a 12 point aggregate Division One Cup final success over misfiring Ramsgate this week. Four and six points respectively the returns for the two visiting heat leaders, both tallies the lowest recorded in any meeting by the pair in SL17, with Law rarely out of double figures this season. The World number seven was beaten by all three Vipers heat leaders, including Liam Marlow (15) on three separate occasions, he finishing last on the second of those behind not only his fellow England international but by reserve Jack Bruce (5), who skilfully denied the SL14 WU21 Champion with a couple of exquisite blocking manoeuvres. Bruce’s third place finish in heat 11 didn’t bring the biggest cheer of the night though, it surpassed when the same rider brought home the aggregate victory in heat 14, this time the 20 year old taking the lead with some great team riding alongside Zarek Jablonski (6+1) to deny Adzic a point and in turn taking the three their team required for success. After a trophy-less three seasons Don Valley have now claimed two in the matter of a month, the Division One Cup success following on from their win over two legs over the same opponents in the final of the European Cup. Matt Akers side wont be content with just those though, they are still looking for two more, with the final of the KO Cup to come plus the league where they are once again leading the way, wins over Barking (44-46 on the road) and Dunmow (55-35 at home) in the top flight this week taking them a point clear of previous leaders Ramsgate in the standings.
Don Valley’s 44-46 win at Barking—secured with a last heat Liam Marlow (12) winning 4-2—was good news for Sandwell (30 points), who end the week still one place above the Clan (25) and the relegation zone, but now five points clear of the bottom three. A draw for the Scorpions at Swindon (23)—who like the Clan look increasing certain to return to division two—also helping their cause, two league points secured there by heat 11, 13 and 15 5-1’s from Rami Tjernstrom (16+1)/Chris Corry (12+2).
Altrincham are all but out of the race for a European Cup spot in SL18, the Panthers losing out in a real ‘six-pointer’ to Quantock at home, 43-47, a result which consolidates the Rangers position in fourth spot. Quantock led the crunch fixture from a Craig Willoughby (8) winning heat two 4-2 to the finish, the 18 year old reserve also took the chequered flag in front in a crucial heat 14 4-2, he beating home heat leader Andy Rose (6+1) in that as the visitors went clear heading into the last. What was Quantock’s only second win ever at the venue was completed by the minor places from Wlod Szczepanski (12) and Jon Jacobs (12+1) in the final race which was won by the unbeaten Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (18). Sankey now pose by far the biggest threat to Quantock’s bid for a fifth successive appearance in the European Cup, the Sharks have moved within a point of the Rangers in the standings with three successive 46-44 wins, a run which started with a home victory over the Rangers. The Sharks won at bottom side Dunmow this week, before beating Barking at home, David Mulrain (with scores of 14 and 12+3 respectively) dropping just a point over the two meetings.
Terry Meech’s St Peters side have followed up their Division Three Cup success in their debut campaign with a Division Two Cup triumph in their second, the Scions top six all amongst the heat winners as a great team effort saw them claim a second leg 44-46 win at Merseyside to win the final by eight. It was a bad week for Merseyside in the league also, a third home defeat of the campaign (41-49 to Exeter) seeing them slip out of the promotion places for the first time in six months, St Peters—who were in the drop zone at the halfway point of the season—end the week third. Laceby meanwhile grabbed second spot ahead of the two with back-to-back wins, the first a 42-48 success at Lye, while leaders Cradley earned themselves some breathing space with a 42-48 win at Exeter, the result extending their unbeaten league run to seven.
California’s near 17 year wait for a first trophy is over, David Graingers’ Poppies landing the Division Three Cup with a two point aggregate win over Inverness in this years final. The long awaited success was confirmed with a Luke Miller (14) winning 4-2 in the final heat, key contributor on the night with 13, Yevgeny Kulkov—who recently became the club’s 102nd signing—picked up the vital point for third. In the end it was a double celebration for California (63 points), promotion back to the second tier after a two year absent confirmed for them with their a later draw at Anderson and away defeat for both Stepps (49) and Manor (48), the former against second placed Sittingbourne (52), all this in a week that began with a first home defeat of the campaign for the Poppies with the visit of Inverness.
A second win of the GP series has taken Altrincham’s Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (13) into a five point lead in the World Championship standings, the Russian world number six winning the Danish round for a second year in a row after a heat 20 victory over Brit trio Graham Hancock (10), Simon Driffield (8) and Padi Basker (4). Wade Dunn finished second on the night with 11 points, Bradley Law (10) third after a race off win over Hancock and Craig Rowntree.