Fast starting Witches stun Thunder
Stowmarkethave made an impressive start to their latest bid to land a first league title, the Witches winners of all four of the top flight meetings in the opening month of the campaign by a double figure margin. Ten was Telford’s deficit has they played host to Bill Jones’s side in their latest fixture, slick conditions only helping the visitors who were by far the sharpest from the gate, Grzegorz Kowalczyk (14+1) setting the tone when bursting out of the traps to win the opener against the opponents number one Ben Page (10) virtually unchallenged. The world champion would go on to claim his second maximum of the season against the side with relative ease, he was beaten though by his own team mate Charles Knapper (14) in heat 15, the Brit—signed from Brickhill in pre-season—was also lighting quick at the starts throughout the contest, the 30 year old picking up wins over home heat leaders Mark Hurt (8)—twice—and Jacek Grad (4) before adding Page to his list when leading around Kowalczyk for a 5-1 in the last. Already in the week Telford had proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Witches, Kowalczyk (13) and Marc Thompson (10) casting their spells to win the Club Pairs semi final staged at the TLS, the club reaching their fourth straight final in a competition they have yet to win, given Knapper’s start to the season—he’s averaging 10.44 to date—Jones could switch Thompson for Knapper in the decider. Stowmarket finished a point clear of holders Huntingdon in the tie, with fellow qualifiers Canvey and Eastbourne a point further back.
Eastbourne suffered only their third home league defeat in four years as for the second time in that period Willenhall came away from Wilmington Gardens with a victory under their belts. Jaroslaw Szyszko (9) was beaten by Aaron Macaulay (15+2) in a last heat decider to claim victory back in SL21—one which set the Wolves on their way to the division one title—and it was an almost identical story this week, the visitors fighting back from six down to take the points with 5-1’s in heats 13 and 15, Macaulay heading home Ronnell Hawtin (15+1) in both maximums, Szyszko beaten into third in the first of the showdowns, and excluded in the final race following a fall after coming out second best in an opening lap duel with Hawtin. Victory for Willenhall maintains their 100% start to the league season, however they did lose their Division One Cup opener, going down 48-42 to Cradley. Better for the Wolves at Cradley in the Pairs however, Hawtin (11) and Macaulay (15) winning the semi final at the Silverthorne ahead of division two sides Dudley (23) and Gorleston, the SL19 winners qualifying for their first final in the competition in three years as a result.
Wimbledon failed to reach their first Pairs final after finishing fourth at Cradley, however the Werewolves bounced back to win their first away fixture in division one of SL23, a penultimate heat 5-1 from reserve Pavel Koltsov and second string Cvetko Greiwe (7+2) securing them the points at Huntingdon (43-47), who are left without a league win at the end of the opening month of the campaign.
World Number five Steve Wales (12) defeated in-form Charles Knapper in a race-off in his British semi final to land his first WSO event success since winning the World Under 21 title back in SL20, the 23 year old Peterborough star took his chance in a decider which came about only after Knapper followed up four perfects wins with a last place finish in heat 19 following an uncharacteristic slow start. A maximum did however see Nathan Kay (15) take victory in the second of the semi finals at Newport, the new Leeds number one topping the standings from Ray Smith (14), world number three Aaron Macaulay qualified through to the final from third.
Leeds shrugged off the injury of Sam Weeks to maintain their unbeaten start to SL23, the Jaguars—who had to replace the 6.49 GSA man three pointer Carl Nelson—winning their league encounter at Gorleston, 41-49, before defeating Brickhill by six on the road in the Division Two Cup. Nathan Kay scored a maximum in both wins, while extra rides from Polish reserve Marek Grabowski saw him finish with figures of 8 and 5+2 respectively. Leeds head the second tier standings from Dudley on points difference, the Heathens—also unbeaten in SL23—winning at Devon 41-49 in the league this week, a meeting in which the visitors heat leader trio of Peter Carl (10+1), Simone Alidori (13) and Matteo De Feudis (14) raced to 11 race wins. Ramsgate meanwhile picked up their first away win since promotion from division three, new signings Raymond Muri (11) and Ben Clements (9+1) top scoring for the Robins in their 44-46 success at Beverley.