Win double sends Rams eight clear
Ramsgateextended their winning run to seven in all competitions as they continued their chase of a second quintuple in five years, cup wins over Exeter and Quantock the meat in the sandwich of a league double over the top flight’s bottom two sides. The Rams began their successful week with their eighth division one win of the campaign, Philip Watmough’s side second ever visit to Jericho providing them with a second win there. Artur Kulyk once again the star man for the visitors to The Pound, the Pole unbeaten but for a fall while leading heat 12, four wins though still for the 28 year old to add his five unbeaten successes at the venue earlier on in the season. Kulyk’s failure to stay on his bike though in heat 12—which saw the hosts pick up a 5-1 to level the scores—extended the meeting as a contest, in the end it going to a last heat decider, in which Kulyk beat home number one Christian Bauer (10) to clinch the points. Three home meetings followed for Ramsgate, including one in the European Cup final against Quantock, the only side to beat them at the Channel Arena this season. No shock this time though, 5-1’s in heats 13 and 15 taking the Rams to a 50-40 success, a victory which makes them favourites to become the first two-times British winners of that competition going into the deciding return leg. Next up was the completion of a 38 point aggregate win over Exeter in the Division One Cup semi finals, the Rams winning the second leg of the tie 57-33, before beating Sandwell 52-38 in the league, a result which sends them eight points clear of closest rivals, Don Valley.
For the third time this season Ramsgate will take on Quantock over two legs in a cup competition, the Rangers qualifying through to face the holders in the final of the Division One Cup. Two points up from the first leg of their last four tie with Sankey, Quantock made light work of completing the job at home, three successive 4-2’s taking them eight up on aggregate by the end of heat four. Sankey kept the hosts honest though and it wasn’t until heat 13 that the crowd could celebrate the Rangers victory, Wade Dunn (14) taking them over the line with his fourth straight win of the evening.
Don Valley’s Valeri Lach (14) was the spoiler in the expected all-British battle between Graham Hancock (14) and Bradley Law (13) for this season’s WU21 crown, the 19 year old Russian snatching the title with a late win double over SL15 winner Hancock in this weeks final in Oslo. Lach defeated the Lye youngster in heat 20 to go level with him at the top of the standings, before preventing him becoming the first two-time winner of the title in the race-off. Like Hancock, Law was a previous winner of the final—in SL14—and also won his semi final last month, the BU21 Champion though lost his chance when beaten into third by Hancock and his Ramsgate team mate Keiron King (12) in heat ten of the contest. In taking the title Lach becomes the third rider after Ricky Russel and Iain Johnson to claim both WU19 and 21 titles in their respective careers.
Exeter have now gone eight meetings without a win in league and cup, with top flight defeats to Altrincham and Quantock this week leaving them just three points above the drop zone. Defeat to the latter at home came as the Rangers scored 5-1’s in heats 13 and 14 of the meeting, those set up the 43-47 victory, one completed with Jon Jacobs (14) second win in the space of four heat in the decider.
Swindon recovered from a 16 point first leg loss to win their Division Two Cup semi final against local rivals Liden, 97-83, an emphatic 30 point second leg victory completed with the aid of five 5-1’s, four of which involved unbeaten second string Calvin Rostron (12+3). Rostron, who was left out of the side for the first leg by Gareth Glover, moved to the club from the Lions in pre-season for £24,000! Swindon will take on Glendale in the final, the Ghosts going through from their last four tie with Gateshead, 92-88, a last heat 4-2 won by Valdimir Anyukov (14) deciding that one in favour of Ally Carroll’s side.
Emphatic home second leg wins for St Peters (53-37) and Sittingbourne (59-31) earned the two league rookies a place in this years Division Three Cup final, the former beating Witham by 16 on aggregate, with the Stags going through by the same score against Manor, who’d won the first leg of the tie by 12.
Newquay became the fourth different leaders of division three this season after defeating previous pacesetters Stepps on the road, 42-48. The defeat was the second for the Slickers in their last five at the City Arena—another also ended in a draw—Ricky Russel (14) and Mark Burt (11) securing the points for the Knights with a last heat 5-1 over home heat leaders Patrick Berggren and Noel Smith, the latter finished with figures of just 2+1!