Law leads Cradley to Pairs success
Cradley Heath(23) have become the first side outside of the top flight to win the Club Pairs Championship in 18 years following a single point success over Southampton in this weeks Dunmow final. A first ever win for division two side Cradley, but not for their new spearhead Bradley Law (16) and Liam Marlow (7), who between them now have a combined five winners medals. Marlow’s second success in the competition comes seven years after his first with parent club Don Valley back in SL11, for Law it’s victory number three in four years, he having been one half of Ramsgate’s winning partnership in SL16 and the one from this time last year. And it was his victory over the current Rams duo of Shane Goodwin (9) and Artur Kulyk (11) in heat 20 of this years final which saw Ramsgate’s reign as champions come to an end, the £1million pre-season signing earning the decisive three points for Stuart Mills’s Hammers despite exiting the second bend adrift of Kulyk’s back wheel, the 23 year old wasn’t behind for long though, he finding space and drive on the outside down the back straight to take the lead. Ramsgate needed a 4-2 or better to take victory in the meeting themselves, but it was Cradley who’d claim the heat advantage, their third of the final following on from earlier 5-1’s against both Gateshead and Bolsover. In the end Ramsgate had to settle for third overall with Southampton (22) picking up a heat maximum in the final race to overall their tally and take the runners-up spot, which meant the top two positions of the podium were filled with British riders for the second year in a row.
Craig Willoughby (15) claimed a maiden victory in the BU21 competition after winning the final at the fourth attempt. With home advantage and having the highest average of the 16 strong field victory for the 20 year came as no real surprise, however he was pushed all the way by Quantock team mate Charlie Pickering, at 17 the youngest of the riders in action. Like Willoughby the Rangers reserve won all his first four races, however experience told when they met in the final scheduled heat of the meeting, Willoughby forcing the teen wide from the start which meant it was he who had the better position coming out of the second bend. Willoughby went on to make it five out of five while BU19 champion Pickering trailed home in third, the point putting him into a race off for the minor podiums spots—which he won—with Joseph Ballard. The top seven from Quantock qualify for the WU21 semi finals which take place in the second half of the season.
A winning WSO debut for Samuel Murphy who took the WU19 title in Oslo with a 15 point maximum. The 17 year old—currently without a club—topped the standings from Bolsover’s Conner Robertson (12) and Tanek Zajec, pre-meeting favourite and defending champion David Johnson (11) finished a disappointing fourth while Charlie Pickering (7) was the best placed Brit in ninth.
Ramsgate’s bid for a fifth straight Division One Cup final appearance continued with a 42-47 win at Newquay. The Rams are unbeaten in this years competition and moved a step closer to qualification for the last four with the win, secured with a last heat Shane Goodwin (13) winning 4-2. Earlier Ramsgate suffered their first league defeat of the campaign on their trip to Southampton, 51-39, the defeat seeing them slip to second in the standings at the time, however they end the week top thanks to a later win over Laceby, 57-33, returned despite the tactical absence of Joseph Ballard from their side. Ballard has been averaging 8.20 at reserve this season, however he retains his 3.00 point GSA for the next six weeks at least having not ridden in the necessary six meetings required for it to change.
Altrincham end the week second in the division one standings following a surprise victory for the Panthers at Exeter. Key reserve Steffan Boden was missing for the visitors, but still they had enough to eke out a 44-46 success against their full strength hosts, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (15) helping his side to their second league win at the venue in three by winning a last heat 4-2. Elsewhere Quantock bounced back from a double loss last week by picking up a brace of top flight wins this, which included a two point success at Swindon bookend-ed by 4-2’s involving Wlod Szczepanski (11).
Jericho have secured an early qualification to the semi finals of the Division Three Cup after making it three wins out of three in the qualifiers at California (41-49). Eight down after heat six the Jack Russells raced to five heat advantages in the next eight to win the meeting with a race to spare, a heat 14 5-1 won by second string Tim Picard (7+1) taking them over the line.