A large crowd gathered to watch this top of the table clash, and it was the away team that took the league points and confirmed their ranking as the favourites for the 2012 Elite League.
Birmingham went into the match without European finalist Dominic Rycharski but it was the all round strength of the Oxford outfit that ensured they completed the double over the Monarchs following on from their six point victory back at The Village several weeks ago.
The first eight heats saw six 5-5 drawn races and two races exchanged in 7-2 heat advantages, heat 4 going to Horspath’s Rudmand and Harris after Konrad Pietak moved at the start, and then Mark Boaler committed the same sin in heat 7 allowing Pietak and Harrold to take the seven points over Errol Thaw. The race before the interval had Harris and Bates against Mark Winwood and Scott Millward and after a tight first lap the Hammers pair literally put the hammer down and gained a four point interval lead.
The lead was cut to two when Heard and Timms gained a 6-4 advantage over Lewis Osborne and Mark Carmichael who had a spectacular fall entering the third turn but fortunately was able to remount and gain his one point. Wadhams won heat 11 although mark Boaler was on his shoulder the whole way, but with Nathan Groves unable to make any impression another drawn heat ensued. Bates and Carmichael re-established the four point gap in heat 12 and Lewis Osborne and Mark Boaler stretched it further with a fine 7-3 over a disappointing Marcus Wadhams and Mark Winwood. A 6-4 in heat 16 meant Horspaths lead was unassailable and the match petered out somewhat.
Horspath did what Horspath do – they aimed for 6-4’s off their ins and 5-5’s off their outs – their experienced men continually hooked their elbows over the younger Monarchs into the first turn and it really was men against boys in a lot of cases. The Monarchs provided 11 of the 18 race winners with Wadhams Timms and Heard providing nine of these – the problems was the tail who had 10 last places and two exclusions.
For Horspath Shaun Rudman, Lewis Bates and Lewis Osborne had six of their seven race wins but the whole team ethic is what won the Hammers this match and more than likely another League title.
Birmingham : Konrad Pietak 10+1, Jack Harrold 11+1, Nathan Groves 3, Marcus Wadhams 16, Scott Millward 6, Chris Timms 17+1, Mark Winwood 5, Paul heard 17+1.
Horspath: Shaun Rudman 17+1, Chris Osborne 3+1, Lewis Bates 15+2, Mark Carmichael 11, Mark Boaler 11+1, Errol Thaw 9+2, Steve Harris 12+3, Lewis Osborne 14+1
Birmingham: 47 Phil Widdas 10, Jake Ryan 5, Reece Winwood 9+1, Paul Timms 11 Rich Stephenson 8 Ryan Winwood 4.
Horspath 82: Simon Munden 18+2, Livvi Horsley 10+1, George Horsley 16, Rich Harrison 16+4,Zac Payne 8+3, Mark James 14 Jordan Richardson dnr