S-WITCHING IT UP
Holders open with victory
The sale of Grzegorz Kowalczyk may have forced a change of partnership, but it was success again for Stowmarket (25) as they began the defence of the Pairs title with a second round victory in Calderwood. The club number one Paul Hope (8) returned to lead the Witches, this time he joining forces with Lasse Classen (17) as the SL29 winners began their challenge for the silverware. With the two both finishing in the top six in the world last year, it was they who began the tie as clear favourites to win it, but it proved to be something of a slow burn for Bill Jones’s side. Hope was beaten by both Steve Vitale and Jan Siegl when they took to the track for the first time, however with Classen coming back to the pits with a win under his belt the damage was limited. The Cork (23) duo were strong throughout the meeting, not conceding a heat advantage to any of their six opponents without really dominating, they finishing as equal runners-up on the night alongside third tier Wolverhampton (23). The Wolves began the tie with a bang, picking up 5-1’s against Bradwell and Beverley in turn, their first race deficit a 4-2 to Stowmarket in heat 14. That was part of a run of three such scores for the Witches, Classen winning each race with Hope back in third. It wasn’t until heat 17 that Hope managed to beat both opponents he came up against, a first 5-1 at last for the holders as they beat Bradwell, then a first win for Hope two races later and another 5-1, as their meeting victory was sealed against Hale. A disappointing end to the night for the third tier rookies, but their final 19 point tally would prove to be enough to send them through to the final as the the highest scoring fourth placed side of the second round. Earley missed out after earning 17 points to finish in that position at Kelso, where last years runners-up Eastbourne opened their SL30 Pairs campaign with a meeting victory. Stig Martinson (15) and Ronnell Hawtin (8) scored two 5-1’s for the record five-times winners of the competition as they topped the standings from surprise second placed finisher’s Greenhill (22), Leeds (21)—who lifted the trophy for a fourth time in SL28—grabbed third spot by beating Earley 5-1 in a decisive heat 17 encounter.
Ten meetings, ten home wins in division one in the latest rounds of fixtures. Early season leaders Coalville came closest to preventing a collective clean sweep by this weeks hosts, they in front heading into the final five races at Wentworth, before conceding heat 11 and 13 5-1’s to the top flight newcomers. Russell Lewis (13+2) scored his first maximum of the SL30 league season for the Kings, while reserve Matthias Zimmman (9+1) once against impressed for the Trappers.
Having sat out last week holders Stowmarket hit the track running when they opened their Division One Cup campaign at Wentworth. The Witches 44-46 winners over the competition rookies, the visitors not taking the lead in the group tie until the very final race. Paul Hope (15) and Lasse Classen (14+1) scored a decisive 4-2 in the finale, adding to the 4-2 they rode to in heat 13 and the 5-1 they scored when they came together as tactical substitutes in heat eight. Elsewhere Wimbledon put behind them their disappointment of their opening round defeat at Leeds to claim the maximum four group points against Linlithgow, the second bonus point and 56-34 victory confirmed with a last heat 5-1 in the Dogs Bowl clash.
Dudley end the week top of division two on points difference after smashing Beverley 57-33 at home. Reserve Lukas Gruber (10) raced to three of the Tigers 14 heat wins on the night. Earlier the 21 year old Austrian won the first of the three 5-1’s scored by his side as they drew at Earley, a disappointing result though considering they led by four heading into the last. In the Division Two Cup there were away wins for both Calderwood and Coventry, the latter providing six different heat winners in beating Cork on the road by four. 18 year old reserve Ben Henderson (9+4) was amongst those to enjoy success, he winning heat two and finished second in both the 5-1’s scored by the visitors. Another teenage reserve, Jacob Begum (9+1), was also paid for a double figure score in Calderwood’s 43-47 win at Swindon.
Newcomers Hale became the first side to win away from home in division three this season and therefore sit clear at the top of the standings. The 43-47 success was returned at another of the league rookies, Small Heath, where Edvard Kraschowitz (122) and Tomasz Jozwiak (11+1) scored a decisive last heat 5-1, the visitors third such score of the night.
A sixth WSO career meeting win for Runcorn’s Cameron Reeves who scored a maximum in the BU21 semi-final at Cork. Coventry’s Harry Reid (13) won the second of the ties at Derby.