Sinks storm clear
Throughout the opening month of the new top flight season there has been just two away wins recorded. Both belong to Belfast. In all it’s four wins out of four in the league for the defending champions, five from five in all competitions plus there was a flawless performance on their seasonal Pairs debut, which saw them once again reach that final. Back to the league though, always the priority of Paul Hunt’s side, who are the three-times defending champions and already clear odds-on favourites to make it four in a row. Scottish side Houston had been tipped to finish above them at the start of SL15, any ambitions to do so curtailed after The Stables played host to Belfast latest away success, one dominated by Jan Tomanek. After an indifferent pre-season the world number three was at his very best in Houston, he finishing the night with a paid 18 score as the visitors fought back from eight down to snatch the meeting lead for the first time on the last lap of the very last race. Home number one Blake White (10) did his best to defend after gating in front, but his 23 year old rival was just too fast and his resistance was broken coming out of the second bend on lap four of the decider, and with Tomanek’s team mate Liam Harris (12) taking a comfortable third, both league points would be heading back across the Irish Sea with the Sinks. Tomanek’s victory in the last was the sixth from a visiting rider in the final seven heats of the meeting, the Czech international himself earning two of the others, Harris picked up a brace in the sequence, Stephan Beck (8) the other, whose first and only win of the night was retuned in a crucial heat 13 5-1 ahead of Tomanek.
Houston’srevenge on Paul Hunt was to take a point off Belfast’s sister club Shetland on their later trip to the Scottish outpost. The now bottom of the table Colts—who never led in the meeting—levelling the scores for a second time in heat 15, courtesy of a Daniel Pesola (12)/Adam Carroll (12) 4-2. The result wasn’t enough to lift George Seymours side off the bottom, their points difference the worst of four clubs locked on three points, a quartet which includes fellow Scottish side Stirling. The Seahawks conceded heat 13 and 15 4-2’s to Ianos Volk (10) and Simon Snow (12) as they were held to a draw in their latest home league fixture by Totton, far worse was to come however, with the same opponents back at Shore Road to take victory in the Division One Cup there just three days later. Three 5-1’s in the final nine races saw the Tigers cruise to a 41-49 success in the group clash, a great team performance—with two wins second string Izak Zaloudek (8+2) the pick—by Totton as they made a successful opening in their bid to progress through the first round of the competition for the first time since they lifted the trophy three years ago.
Winners in SL13 and runners-up last year Jan Tomanek (17) and Stephan Beck (11) will certainly be there or there abouts again in next weeks Pairs final at Ringwood. It’s hard to see anyone stopping the Belfast pair, who scored four 5-1’s and two 4-2’s in the six heats to finish top of their semi-final in Wavendon. Their only dropped points came against Sedgeley (20) and more surprising the hosts late on, the Sprites will be back to have another go at them next week after qualifying through in equal second alongside Houston (20), however they’ll not go to Ringwood with much hope given they finished eight points adrift of the Sinks this week. Long Eaton (19) qualified through from the meeting as the highest scoring fourth placed side over this weeks two qualifiers, the second of which was won by Hallamshire (26). Rafal Grabowski (16) and Julian Harrison (10) scored five 5-1’s to top the charts in Shetland, they conceding a maximum to Bradford (19) in their other outing to the track, points which helped the Speedsters take third on the night. Sandwiching the pair were the Speedsters division two rivals Stourbridge (23), who are back in the final for the second successive year.
A great second half of the month for Caversham who picked up three wins out of three in the latest round of meetings. Two were away from home for the recently relegated Swans, the first at Buxton in the league, where Garry Gould (15) raced to five of the ten heat wins recorded by the visiting side, 20 year old Per Lindberg (8+2) also impressed in the 39-51 victory, their biggest away from home in eight seasons. On to Wednesfield where they nearly matched it in their Division Two Cup encounter, a ten point win this time as they moved to the verge of a semi-final place, Gould (14) again the top scorer. In division three Alfreton lead the way after they beat Southend 44-46 on the road, reserve Jeppe Hildebrandt—on loan from Bradford—dropping just a one point and winning three for the visitors, the Archers also won their Division Three Cup clash at Swinton by the same score.