Regent Edition - ENHANCED
British woes in cup
For the first time in seven years there will be no British European Cup finalist as all four of the SL23 participants from the home nations failed to win their first round ties. A recent resurgence of strength on the continent which began in Prague seems to be spreading, the Czech side—beaten finalists in SL20 and 21 and last years winners—amongst those again to reach the last four, this time they are joined by Lublin, Gyor and Krakow in a European League shut-out. Twice Rugby have appeared in the first round of the completion, twice they’ve come up against Prague and now twice they’ve been eliminated by them. Trailing by eight from their home first leg the Gravediggers travelled to Prague with little hope, their lack of ambition soon became evident with the concession of heat two and four 5-1’s, the visiting riders trudging back to the pits looking like they’d rather be anywhere but in the Czech capital. It was a similar tale in Hungary where Pennsylvania threw in the towel early, also behind from the first leg the Pirates were soon out of contention, Gyor racing to two 5-1’s and two 4-2’s in the opening four races, they would go on to add four more heat maximums to their tally as they went on to record a 59-31 second leg win. Closer for New Forest in Lublin, last years runners-up eliminated by just six despite going eight down on aggregate as early as heat three. 200 miles west in Krakow Kent’s first meeting away from British shores started well enough, they leading at the one-third mark, however six heat advantages in the remaining ten races earned the hosts a 50-39 win to take them through by nine, transfer listed Mario Feurer paid for eight in the success.
Bryan Baah’s first British Final appearance in four years brought him a second national title of his career. The SL17 Champion raced to three wins in his first four rides on his home Sedgemoor circuit to lead heading into the final set of heats, a second behind Chris Webb (11) in the last scheduled race of the meeting securing the 28 year old top spot on the podium. Webb finished as runner-up on the night after beating SL20 champion Stephen Charnock in a race-off, world number two Kevin Dobinson (10) finished fourth. In Pila home track rider Robert Tomala completed a successful defence of his Polish title by scoring a 15 point maximum in this weeks final, Rackenford’s Radoslaw Kowalewski (12) finished second.
A 16 point defeat at Kent last week was described by Chalvington boss as his side’s worst performance of the season so far. He maybe updating that opinion following the Chiefs latest top flight loss, a 44-46 home defeat to Bridgwater. Guest Adam Schofield was spared criticism at Kent, not this time, in for injured heat leader Simon Atkins the 20 year old scored just six from his five races, his last place finish in heat 15 just behind temporary team mate Daniel Wedin (10) resulting in a Baboons 5-1 which took them into the lead—just at the wrong time if you are a Chiefs fan—for the first time since heat one! New signing Gregor Polsak slotted into the top three for Chalvington, his home league debut not one to write back to Slovenia about however, no heat wins for the 35 year old who scored just four points. Bridgwater’s last heat 5-1 was their third such score of the meeting, the unbeaten Hans Berg (15) winning two, Gary Jones (9+1) the other. They end the week in third, five points of leaders New Forest—whose earlier meeting at Colney Hatch ended all square—Chalvington return to the bottom of the standings following what was their third straight home defeat to the Baboons.
Kent are on course to reach the quarter finals of the KO Cup for the fourth time in five years following a second round first leg win in Birmingham this week. Last years runners-up got their SL23 campaign in the competition underway with a hardworking victory over the second tier basement side, they turning the five heat wins they recorded on the night into five heat advantages, Lee Alty (13+1) playing a part in four of them, second string Zoltan Urban (6+2) and reserve Christopher Blackwell (7+3) involved in two apiece. A couple of top flight sides look to be in danger at the halfway point of the ‘last 16’ ties, Newport Pagnell lost their first leg at Smethwick 51-39, while the Meerkats second tier rivals Wordsley will have hopes of overturning a slender four point deficit to Pennsylvania at home in next weeks second leg, reserve Ian Clark (6+3) amongst the heat winners for the Wizards in the opener at the Pirates.
Oxford have gone top of the division two standings for the first time this season after they twice fought back from six down to win at Birmingham, 42-48. Two 5-1’s in the final five races won by Tomas Bukszegi (16) helped secure the Silver Machine their third away win of the campaign.