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UNSINKABLE

Belfast bounce back to win another 4TT

Belfast beat the odds to once again come away with the silverware in a major cup competition. A record third straight win in the 4TT for Paul Hunt’s Sinks, who had only reached this years final by qualifying as the highest scoring semi-final loser. Having topped the scoring in both the first and second rounds, it was Hallamshire that went into the four-legged decider as favourites, they however were playing catch-up after leg one in Northern Ireland, with their quartet taking just three heat wins between them. Belfast’s fourth rider Oliver Stewart tallied that alone, a remarkable performance from the recent signing from Houston, who would beat both Hallamshire’s ten point men—Marcin Jaworski and Julian Harrison—on his way to a superb ten point score. A hat-trick of wins too in the opener for teenage loanee Sarkis Devin, while both Jan Tomanek and Stephan Beck also had strong meetings, each scoring ten out of a possible 12. Hallamshire closed the gap on Belfast in leg two with a strong second behind Stourbridge and had taken the lead by the end of the third, scoring 35 at home to Belfast’s 24. A Jaworski maximum and 11 from Kenn Balle were the two top scores of the final to date, with that firepower at his disposable and a two point aggregate advantage for his quartet, it was Matt Akers who was the happier of the competing promoters heading into the decider. His good mood didn’t last long, by the half way point of the finale at Caversham Belfast had moved five in front with six race wins out of a possible eight, and although they had to wait until heat 15 to claim their seventh, it proved a crucial one, Beck’s late victory securing Belfast the trophy.

TODAY: Shorts

Hallamshire have got themselves in a great position to get their revenge on Belfast with the league title now within reach. The Sheffield based side were nine points adrift of the season long leaders just a couple of months back, however a run a six unbeaten has seen that deficit cut to just a single point with two meetings remaining. A first ever win for the club at Shetland (42-48) the latest success in that run, a last heat 5-1 from Marcin Jaworski (14) and Julian Harrison (12+1) ending an eight meeting losing sequence across the Irish sea. The defeat has seen the Ponies relegated after spending two years in the top flight. Meanwhile a 20 point defeat at Totton meant Belfast failed to pick up any points in their latest away meeting, they’ll need to do better at Ringwood on the final day if they are to clinch a fourth straight title win. Hallamshire will certainly need to win both of their remaining meetings to stand a chance, they travel to eighth placed Sedgely before hosting Houston. Ringwood may go into that meeting with Belfast having already been relegated, a home 43-47 defeat to Long Eaton this week has left them four points adrift of safety in ninth spot, the Rifles up to a season high third after the win—secured with a last heat victory from maximum man Allan Robertson (15)—and later 55-35 home success over Chesterfield, who drop to fourth.

 

We have the prospect of the closest ever finish to a World Championship with just four points now separating the top four in this years GP standings. Jan Tomanek (9) has retaken the lead on count-back from Scott Read (5), but both disappointed in the latest round of the series in Prague, which was won by home track rider Josef Danis (13). The winner of the Czech round is out of overall contention, however strong showings from Samuel Hill (11) and Harry Nicholls—who took second and third after a race-off which also involved Julian Harrison—have seen those two close the gap to two and four points respectively heading into the Polish decider.

 

Gustave Liden held his nerve to become the youngest ever winner of the WU21 title. Victory in the final schedule race of the meeting in Oslo secured the 17 year old Swede the title by a point from Aussie’ Samuel Williams, who beat Sam Thomas in a race-off for the minor podium spot. Liden joined Harringay for just £30,000 earlier this season, he’s averaging 7.19 in division three for the Hoods and also impressed when winning his semi-final to reach this weeks decider. However Marcin Jaworski went into the meeting as firm favourite to claim the trophy, the Pole though disappointed, winning just one of his five races in scoring eight.

 

Six teams, one promotion place remaining. That’s the situation in division two and with just two points now separating the half-dozen contenders, it could go to any of them. Wednesfield (38 points) are currently in the relegation zone, but gave themselves a chance ahead of a final day clash with current third placed side Balham (40) after winning at Buxton (38), 43-47. Other key meetings to come include Mansfield’s (38) meeting with Bournville (39) and Ernsford Grange’s (39) last day clash against Bradford.

 

Swinton fought back from ten points down to claim a promotion securing 44-46 victory at Stoke. Steve Pearce’s Spartans confirming a top three finish in the third tier with three meetings to spare after racing to a hat-trick of 5-1’s in the space of four races, Luke Holden (15) and Liam Harris (14+2) combining for two before completing the success with a last heat 4-2. It’s the first time Swinton will race in division two, this their third season in the sport. Stourbridge meanwhile are back at that level after just one season away, the home defeat for then fourth placed Stoke also securing their top three finish. Willenhall lie third with two meetings to go, a 44-46 win at Harringay helping them end the week a point clear of both Alfreton and Wavendon, the latter having put themselves in contention with a 39-51 victory at Manchester.

 

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