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KNIGHTS RIDE INTO FIFTH FINAL

Record run continues

New Forest’s domination of the Division One Cup continued as they completed a 22 point rout of Kent in the semi finals of this years competition, a 54-36 home second leg win taking John Shuttler’s side through to their fifth straight final. When you are up against the likes of Kristof Muller (14+1) and Stephen Charnock (11) you really need to be competitive in the lower order if you are to stand a chance, the Spitfires capitulation at the Woodlands was due to the fact they weren’t, the Spitfires bottom four combined scoring just five points in the meeting! 20 year old home reserve Ashley Arnold—who joined the club in pre-season—put in his best performance in a Knights race-jacket in the clash, dropped from the first leg side he returned to score a season best paid 11, a tally which included three in a heat eight 5-1, which was the third straight maximum scored by the home side. Three heats later and New Forest were celebrating yet another final appearance, however in that decider they will face Sedgemoor, something of a bogey team for the Knights in the competition. New Forest’s run in it is unsurpassed, they having now lost just three of their last 16 Division One Cup fixtures, all three of those though have been against the Rebels, with one—a 29-61 second leg demolition—costing them the silverware in the final of the SL19 competition. The Rebels made it through to their eighth final by beating Wordsley over two legs in the last four, a slender 46-44 defeat in the midlands for the five-times winners this week despite them going in front on two separate occasions, the result good enough however to send Nick Howard’s side through by 21 on aggregate.

TODAY: Shorts

With last years two top—Daniel Wedin through injury and Adam Schofield following shock elimination at the BU21 stage—absent from this years WU21 final in Oslo, the stage was set for Rhys Pugh (12)—who finished third in SL20—to come to the fore, he did, but the Cambridge teenager had to beat Durko Bocan twice to take the title. A poor start to the meeting left semi final winner Pugh playing catch-up, he beaten into third by fellow Brits’ Chris Hamilton (11) and Oliver Hensley (11) in heat two of the final, last years BU19 Champion though recover to win four of his next five rides, the fourth victory a race-off success over Bocan to claim what was his second major individual title. BU21 Champion Iain Sanders beat Hamilton, Hensley and Czech rider Izaac Melin in a race-off for third to complete the podium.

 

Birmingham saw off a strong Oxford fight-back to reach the final of the Division Two Cup, the Bulldogs into the last two of any version of the competition for the first time after four previous semi final defeats, including against Oxford at the third tier level last year. Revenge for the Bulldogs was completed with a heat 14 5-1 from Gunnar Langkas (12) and tactical substitute Massimo Alberti (11+1) at the home of the Silver Machine in this weeks second leg, Oxford had come within four of overturning their 22 point first leg deficit. Glasshoughton stand in the way of Birmingham and their second piece of club silverware—they won the Pairs in SL19—the Gazelles completing a 30 point semi final win over Bridgwater with a 61-29 home second leg win over the last years Division Three Cup winners this week. This years Division Three Cup will be awarded to either March or Reading, one of which will lift the trophy for the first time. Reading beat Maldon home and away to reach the last two, it was a much closer run thing for March however, a last heat 4-2 in their home second leg completing a two point aggregate win for the Manics over Pagham, the unbeaten Hans Berg (15) defeating Iain Liddle (10+2) in the decider.

 

A first away win in almost a year took Newport Pagnell out of the division two relegation zone for the first time in three months, a 42-48 victory at Birmingham completed for the Knights by a heat 15 5-1 from Lee Cooper (14) and Mike Tolley. Cooper had also won the visitors other 5-1 of the night, that returned in heat one, the visitors going on to lead their hosts—who end the week in the bottom three—throughout. Elsewhere in the division Oxford cut Glasshoughton’s advantage at the top to four points with a 44-46 success at Durham, the top six from the Silver Machine racing to heat wins in what was their fifth away success of the season, the leaders still have yet to record one!

 

Ashton came through a couple of tricky fixtures with three out of a possible four points, the second placed side taking a point off Pagham—who lie third—on their travels before claiming both in their top of the table clash with Maldon, the Rangers coming out on top of that, 46-44, thanks to a late win from second string Julian Tilbury (10+2). Pagham meanwhile bounced back from their disappointing home result to beat fourth placed Greensforge 43-47 on the road.

 

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