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Sun 30/03/14 - 14:00
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Posted 01/04/2014 - Ian Brown
ANOTHER THREE WINS FOR SHEFFIELD
The Rockets were looking to make it three first team wins on the trot after last week’s demolition of Northumbria. Jason Burke returned to the side after his superb performance at Bury, while Jamie Langton made his first appearance since 2011, Matt Parrott and Niall Morton being rested for the combination match. This, coupled with the fact that Radek Handke and Damien Zareba have yet to lose to an opponent, put the home side in a confident mood. But they knew they would be severely tested by the Edinburgh Falcons, who were aiming to bounce back after last week’s loss to Stockport. They were missing Lee Lawrence, Neil McPherson and Jake Slight, so Gavin Kennedy, Marcin Czarkowski and Callum Slight stepped up in their places.
But Handke’s unbeaten record was ruined straight away as he was left at the tapes after thinking there was movement and being unable to catch Morgan, while Owen won from Newsome for a drawn heat. Another 5-5 followed as Hewitson was force to pass Hudson for the win, Smurthwaite keeping Swanson at the back. Sheffield then headed into the lead they never lost in heat three, Zareba winning from Grezla while Holland relegated Czarkowski to the back.
A first lap pile-up as Langton attempted to pass Newsome saw a re-run called in the next, in which Handke won but Langton slipped off his pedals while in a 7-3 position, finishing behind Morgan to keep the match tight. But then that lead was extended to six as Burke & Owen claimed a 7-3 over Kennedy & Slight to put Sheffield six up.
Zareba lost to an opponent for the first time this season as he was passed by Hewitson when in a 7-3 position in heat six, falling while attempting to pass back for a 5-5, Holland winning the heat. Two 6-4s followed, as first Owen passed Czarkowski while Handke won, and then Hudson won from Newsome while Smurthwaite held Kennedy to put Sheffield ten up. Langton suffered a tapes exclusion with a heat till the interval. First time out, Hewitson fell as he met Zareba on the first bend, but second time around, Zareba gated straight round to limit the damage to a 5-4, with the scores at half-time Sheffield 49, Edinburgh 40.
Burke & Holland came out all guns blazing straight after, scoring a 7-3 over Kennedy & Swanson to continue the rout. Two drawn heats gave the action some breathing space, until Zareba passed Newsome in heat thirteen and left a gap for Holland, giving the Rockets another maximum heat score. Smurthwaite held Kennedy while Langton chased Grezla for another 5-5, but then another 7-3 for Sheffield from the tapes for Owen & Zareba. Handke & Smurthwaite claimed a 6-4 with a heat remaining, but then Edinburgh looked like getting a heat advantage, that is until Burke passed Kennedy to let Langton through, giving the home side victory by 103 to 76.
For the Rockets, Radek Handke and Damien Zareba were once again superb, while Aiden Owen showed his recent return to form and Jason Burke lost only to Grezla from the reserve berth, while for the Falcons, Grezla only lost to Zareba and Handke, and captain Mikey Hewitson was always in the thick of the action. But Sheffield once again dominated with another brilliant team performance, and are really looking like they will push all the way for the league title.
Radek Handke 17 (5), Damien Zareba 16+1 (5), Aiden Owen 14+1 (5), Richard Hudson 14 (4), Jason Burke 13+2 (4), Kyle Holland 12+2 (4), Zach Smurthwaite 10+3 (5), Jamie Langton 7 (4)
Kamil Grezla 18 (5), Mikey Hewitson 15+1 (5), Craig Newsome 12 (5), Douglas Morgan 9+3 (5), Neil Swanson 9+1 (5), Gavin Kennedy 7 (5), Marcin Czarkowski 5 (5), Callum Slight 1 (1)
Referee: Rob Mawhood
If the Rockets dominated the first team match, the combination match would always be a different prospect. Edinburgh arrived having not lost this season, and with the Rockets also unbeaten and aiming to defend their title, this would always be a tasty affair, and so it proved to be. Two crashes in the first two heats set the tone for how exciting a match it would be, Sheffield heading into a slim two point lead. They kept this up amid some excellent racing until Edinburgh claimed a 6-4 in heat six to level the scores, a 5-4 in heat eight giving the home side a slender lead. But then the away side headed in front straight back with a maximum heat advantage, and the match looked like it would go right to the wire. Sheffield led by three points with first a 6-4 and a 7-3 in heat ten and eleven, however a 6-4 in heat fourteen to the Falcons reduced the deficit to just one point a heat remaining. Niall Morton stepped up to gate one and took the win and the league points for the second week running in the final heat to give Sheffield the points after a hard match.
Niall Morton was unbeaten except for a fall in his first outing, while Matt Parrott once again showed his rapid improvement this season, while Vicky Brown’s terrific gates saw her cause massive problems for the away side, for whom Neil Swanson starred, losing only to Matt Parrott and Niall Morton, Douglas Morgan and Gavin Kennedy the pick of the rest. However, Sheffield took a big step to defending their title with another strong performance that sees their unbeaten run up to fifteen matches, their only loss in two seasons away to Bury in their first match of 2013.
Niall Morton 16+1 (5), Matt Parrott 13 (4), Vicky Brown 13 (5), Luke Morton 13 (5),
Ed Morton 11+1 (5), Rebecca Davies 7+1 (4), James Bunting (1), Sam Haines 1 (1)
Neil Swanson 17+1 (5), Douglas Morgan 15 (5), Gavin Kennedy 12+1 (4),
Marcin Czarkowski 10+3 (5), Callum Slight 8+1 (4), Ewan Kennedy 7 (5), Paul Kelly 3 (1), Kieron Swanson 2+1 (1)
Referee: Rob Mawhood
James Bunting scored a fourth maximum of the season and was untroubled as he won everytime from the gate, Daniel Rushton and Sam Turney also catching the eye as they push for Combination places, while Kieron Swanson only lost to Bunting for Edinburgh.
James Bunting 16, Daniel Rushton 14, Sam Turney 13, Niamh Morton 11, Sam Haines 11, Jack Brownell 11, James Hawkins 8, Logan Perkins 7, Charlie Cottam 6, Joe Brownell 4
Kieron Swanson 15
Referee: Dave ShoatView Full Report