Wolves take down Kings, again
For the third time this season Willenhall have taken down Coalville in their own back yard, earlier successes at Kings Meadow in cup and league followed this week by a 40-50 top flight victory for the Wolves, aided by the change in GSA’s which saw Matthew Joyce (10) return to the side at second string. Slowly but surely the visitors recovered from the concession of back-to-back 4-2’s in the opening races of the contest, eventually taking the lead for the first time with a Joyce/Mark Butcher heat ten 5-1. The undoubted turning point of the meeting came as Jake Coiner (11) slid off while chasing down the prolific Butcher/Joyce partnership, a four point advantage became eight in heat 13 as Coiner was again on the wrong end of a 5-1, Ronnell Hawtin (13) and Aaron Macaulay (13+1) putting the hammer down after inching clear of the home number one coming out of the second bend, Joyce confirmed the win—Willenhall’s 12th of the season on the road in all competitions—with victory over tactical substitute Mark Jolly in heat 14. Willenhall’s advantage at the top of the standings is up to nine points, it would have been ten but for Stowmarket’s last gasp draw at Iwade, a point going the Witches way following a last heat Grzegorz Kowalczyk (17)/Charles Knapper (15+2) 5-1. This weeks meeting between hosts Huntingdon and Peterborough also ended all square following a last heat 5-1 for the visitors, Pirates duo Henri Myllyniemi (12) and Steve Wales (12+2) picking up the points which extends their side’s unbeaten league run to five meetings.
Dudley are in the Division Two Cup semi finals for only the second time since they won the competition back in SL13, a 43-47 victory at Verwood this week taking them through at the expense of Brickhill, who had been looking to hold on to the necessary top two spot in the group. Peter Carl (14) and Matteo De Feudis (13+2) secured three of the four available points with a last heat 5-1, in a meeting in which the Tigers septet raced to 11 of the 15 heat wins. Leeds topped the group with a 100% record following a 42-48 win at Beverley, with Nathan Kay making in three maximums out of four in the competition this season. The Jags face Gorleston in the last four, while Dudley take on Group B winners Derby.
Bonus point winning home wins for both Canvey and Torbay saw the two clubs make the semi finals of the Division Three Cup, the Cruisers topping Group A from the Tigers on points difference following their rout of Keswick (64-26). On paper that gains them a slightly easier last four tie, Cork await them, Torbay taking on Linlithgow, who won four out of four at the group stage. None of the qualifiers have won any version of the divisional cup before, with the Lions’ Division Two success back in SL14 the only competition win achieved by any of the quartet.
Aaron Macaulay (12) raced to his fourth British title in Coalville to move one victory clear of both the retired Graeme Hocking and Leeds’ Ben Thomson at the top of the all-time winners list. Thomas finished last when he met the Willenhall rider in heat eight, one of three last places recorded by the 33 year old, a grouping which saw the SL12 World Champion miss out on the Overseas Final for a third year in a row. Macaulay took the title after defeating another former champion Nathan Kay in a race-off, Gavin Moss (11) finished third on the podium after beating Ronnell Hawtin and Charles Knapper in another unscheduled race. Current world number five Steve Wales (6) failed to recover from last places in his opening two rides and exits the world championship prior to the Overseas Final for the first time in his career. Joining the best of the Brits in next months Overseas round in Peterborough are the top eight from the Pacific Final, they led by Torbay’s Colin Maddox (14) who at 36 won the meeting in Richmond this week to claim only his second WSO event career success, seven years after his first in the American Championship.
The first of back-to-back away wins for Tim Foster’s Dudley was returned at Kelso, where the minor places from previously unbeaten pairing of Peter Carl (14) and Pierangelo Guarino (13+1) in the heat 15 decider secured them a 44-46 division two victory, Yurgiz Zizilev (13+1) denied both visitors their maximums, however with Kasper Lustu (6+2) falling while chasing down the latter the Kestrels finished without a league point from a home fixture for the sixth time this season.
Holders England are through to their fifth successive International Fours final, the Derek Purvis managed quartet winning their second round tie in Prague by a point from Denmark, who go through to the final for only the second time in their history. Willenhall’s Ronnell Hawtin top scored for the Lions with ten points.