Horspath Hammers retained the Premier League today(Sunday) for the third year running and for the seventh in the last ten years. Although the Oxfordshire side were favourites to retain the title, a defeat today against Wednesfield aces and a win by Leicester in the other title decider against East Newport would have seen the title head upto the East Midlands. With such an important match in prospect the clash between the two sides was a low key affair with both sides fielding weakened sides, in fact the match could have easily been mistaken for a pre season warm up and not a title decider, but it could be argued Horspath had done the hard work all season long.
The match started as it would continue with a win for Chris Timms(Horspath) holding off the experienced Chris Jukes(Wednesfield) one of only two riders who performed well for the Midland side.Wednesfield's young Matt Haddock was out of his depth in the premier side but still gave a good account of himself in the match. Heat two saw things start to go wrong for Wednesfield with a tape exclusion for Dylan Radcliffe allowing Horspath's Paul Heard and Zac payne an easy seven points. With Matt Berharrell competing in his last Premier League match before he concentrates on his other other sport of rugby, the gutsy rider gave the Aces their first win of the day in heat three taking a fine win from Mark Boaler and Mark Carmichael, Wednesfield will certainly miss the Northern based rider next year. With Horspath taking a further five 1-2 heats the home team went into the interval twenty two points to the good 55-33.
The second half of the match saw Horspath come out of the pits ready to totally wrap the day up with an easy 1-2 for Sean Rudman and Mark Boaler piling on more pressure for the visitors, the following heat again saw Berharrell redeem Wednesfield's day with a nice win holding of Paul Heard and the ever improving Zac Payne. Chris Timms showed a chasing Dylan radcliffe a clean pair of heels in heat fourteen with classy win and his second of the day.More misery was in store for Wednesfield in the following heat with another seven points going Horspath's way and in fact Wednesfield didn't put any points advantage on the score sheet for the remainder of the match with Horspath hammers rolling out winners forty one points to the good 109 - 68.
Considering today was such an important day for the Premier League title chase, it was a poor match between the two teams, a usual Horspath Wednesfield clash will always produce a days top drawer racing and fireworks.Today was the total opposite and with both sides missing key riders for the match it took the shine off the day but Horspath will always be worthy Champions in any competition they enter and the 2012 season will be no different for the Oxfordshire club.
Horspath 109: Chris Timms 18, Mark Carmichael 18, Mark Boaler 14, Chris Osborne 14, Shaun Rudman 14, Paul Heard 14, Zac Payne 13, Wayne Hutt 4
Wednesfield 68: Matt Beharrell 15, Chris Jewkes 12, Ben Higham 9, Sam Parr 8, Steve Mullinder 7, Dylan Radcliffe 7, Mick Aris 5, Matt Haddock 5
Robyn Carter (Hospath Team Manager)
"Third premier title in succession, very happy today. Everyone made us favourites for the title before the season started but sometimes thats a hard position to be in. We've had an excellent year all round both from a team point of view and as individuals, we've pretty much achieved everything we set out to do. It was a hugh disappointment we were omitted from the British Team Championships but we will be back in that next year, as a team we always set out to win everything we can both in the seniors and the juniors races, We've never won everything we've entered that would be asking a bit too much.We have two matches left in the regional league and if we win those we will win the league, its a good target for the younger riders to aim for the local leagues, the senior riders aren't as interested in those leagues they tend to target the premier league and the British team. We should be keeping the same team for next year, the riders all seem happy here and I'm happy with them so depending on how the league is structured for next season we should stay together."