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Stokes slip lets in Wolves

Willenhall have gone top for the first time since the opening day of the season after extending their winning league run to six with a comeback victory at Eastbourne. Six down at the halfway point the Wolves recovered to win by six after racing to three 5-1’s and two 4-2’s in the second half of the clash, the most crucial of those advantages returned in heat 12 when Nate Stokes handed over maximum points to visiting guest Marc Thompson (7+1) and reserve Bradley Fowler, the home number one seemingly cruising to victory before going into the tight third bend far too fast on the second lap, the American scraping the fence in his attempt to circumnavigate the corner and almost taking out his own reserve Ryan Murphy in the process. A possible home 5-1 was turned on it’s head in a rerun which didn’t feature the now excluded Stokes, Fowler picking up his first and only points of the meeting in the process. And with Willenhall following that 5-1 immediately with another—this time from Ronnell Hawtin (14+1) and Aaron Macaulay (15+1)—the Seagulls were dead and buried, with their third home defeat of the campaign confirmed by the same two riders in the last. Eastbourne—ever-present in the top flight since their promotion at the end of SL2—are now in a real fight to maintain their division one status, their latest defeat leaving them ninth, two points adrift of Stowmarket and safety. The Witches are out of the bottom three after they held relegation rivals Iwade to a draw on their travels, Grezegorz Kowalcyyk (15+1) and Charles Knapper (13+1) scoring a last heat 5-1 there.

The KO Cup provided a welcome distraction for Eastbourne from their league woes, Nate Stokes (17) the star at top flight basement side Dudley with five wins and a heat 15 second behind Matteo De Feudis (14), as the five-times winners of the competition overturned a six point deficit to win the first leg of the first round tie, 43-47. There were also opening leg away wins for both Huntingdon and Wimbledon, the division one duo beating second tier Linlithgow and Claygate—who lie 30th of out the 30 league leagues—respectively. The Hunters went on to dominate their meeting after scoring 5-1’s in two of the first three heats in Scotland, although the Lions managed to keep their defeat down to single figures—41-49—in the end thanks to a 5-1 of their own in the final heat. Wimbledon didn’t get out of third gear in completing a 42-48 win at Claygate, a slightly disappointing result given the assets available to the Werewolves, who had to rely on their heat leaders for race wins.


Oleg Gabulov’s defence of his World title almost came to an end in his first meeting of this years championship, the Pila and Russia star requiring a heat 19 second place in his Continental semi final in Gyor this week to snatch a top eight finish in the meeting, a third would have seen him exit. A fate that did befall world number ten Matteo De Feudis (7), despite the Italian winning his last race of the night, Stowmarket’s Grzegorz Kowalczyk (10) took the meeting victory having scored just three more points than De Feudis who finished ninth. A more decisive victory for Lublin’s Jiri Lastuvka (15) in the second of the semi finals, the Czech topping the standings on his home track by three points from New Way’s Sergey Lozhkin.


Recently relegated Telford have gone top of the division two table for the first time after racing to a 43-47 victory at Earley, the win returned despite Gravediggers £81,000 signing Jake Beacham scoring 14 points on his home debut. A good performance from their new number one but little else to shout about for Earley fans, in contrast heat wins were littered throughout the side for Telford, all but Marc Morris taking the chequered flag in front at least once. Elsewhere Devon demolished local rivals Exeter, at 37-53 the win was a club record on the road in the league for the Demons, Ben Thomson’s (15) maximum the highlight of the night.


Runcorn dropped their first home point since their formation at the start of this season, the rookies held to a draw a Linnets Park by fellow newcomers and current third tier pacesetters, New Way. Having led by four however Nighthawks boss Dave Lewis will be disappointed that his side didn’t make it three away wins from five, they pegged back late on by a 5-1 from experienced pairing, Tommy Thywissen and Lee Fuller. Keswick meanwhile have rejoined New Way back in the promotion places following their first away win of SL24, the Crusaders taking all three points at bottom side Claygate after a last heat Andrey Kusov (12)/Jiri Wittner (11+1) 5-1 gave them a 42-48 victory there, James Evans’s side had trailed in the meeting by six prior to Kusov’s win as a tactical substitute in a heat six 5-1.


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