MATCH REPORT: Sheffield power to win over Bury

The Sheffield/CRA Rockets completed a Cycle Speedway Northern league double, with a 104-75 home victory over a depleted Bury. Sheffield were at full strength, promoting Mick Knowles to a reserve berth on the back of some recent good results in the EuroVets series. The Comets were missing their number 1 Chris Parrish.

Sheffield’s riding order was re-jigged and paid dividends in the first heat when Damian Zareba and Kyle Holland sped from the tapes for a 7-3. Danny Taylor then held Aiden Owen for 2 laps, before the Rockets captain passed on the inside entering turn 3. Heat 3 saw the first of many incident packed races. Bobby McMillan, on his home debut, executed a perfect pass on Ben Scrannage entering turn 2 of the second lap. The Bury flier repaying the complement on the next corner. As McMillan tried to drop back underneath his front wheel caught the back wheel of Scrannage and he ended in a heap, race drawn 5-5. Holland got Knowles to the front with a well worked first bend in heat 5. Kristian Ramsden preventing a 7-3 win a fine last bend pass on Holland. McMillan and Richard Hudson increased the Rockets lead to 38-22 in heat 6 with Sheffield’s third 7-3 win. Scrannage then held Holland for a drawn heat 7. Sheffield posted a 6-4 in heat 8, with Owen again having to work hard to pass Will Owens. Neil Howarth and Dawid Renc then got the better of Zach Smurthwaite on the first bend of heat 9 for a drawn race, half time score 54-36 in Sheffield’s favour.

Heat 10 and Taylor secures the Comets first race winner, with Hudson content to sit for a 5-5 with Knowles. Owen makes a quick start from grid one in heat 11, with Scrannage looking to hold out Radek Handke. The Pole finding a burst of speed at the start of lap two to make an inside pass for another Sheffield 7-3. Taylor was again in the tick of the action in heat 12 as he and Howarth hold a 7-3 at the start of the race. Zareba though passes both riders, with Taylor losing the battle with Holland on the last corner. Heat 13 and this time it’s McMillan at the centre of the action. Hudson is away for the win, with the Aussie locked in battle with Ramsden and Owens. First he passes both riders in one swoop, only to be re-passed by Ramsden. Then he mis-judges a last bend ‘stove’ and ends up in the dirt for the second time. Heat 14 is probably the most incident packed. Scrannage leads, only for Owen to pass on the inside of turn 3 on the first lap. Smurthwaite is through the gap to take the lead, but both Scrannage and Owen have locked up and lose ground. Owen defends on turn one of the second lap as Renc hits the dust. Scrannage chases down Smurthwaite, making up 25 metres, and on the last corner bursts round the outside to take the win.

Heat 15, and Knowles pulls of the track on the first corner in agony after an injury to his calf muscle. Race continues with Handke passing James Elston, as the Comets gain their first race advantage. Sheffield take 7-3 wins in heats 16 and 17 as they go through the 100 point barrier for the fourth successive home match. Another incident packed final heat sees Scrannage inflict the only defeat on Handke, and with Ramsden finishing ahead of Hudson (who falls when the two come together on lap 2) the Comets gain their only other heat win. For Sheffield Zareba is unbeaten, Handke loses just once and McMillan is unbeaten except for falling. The rest of the Rockets post at least one race win each.

For the Comets Scrannage has two race wins with Taylor the only other race victor. Taylor has the most eventful afternoon with one win and four lasts places, but can consider himself very unlucky as he led in three of those last place finishes and was the victim of some excellent passing by the home riders. Howarth was on the pace of the home riders, just not having that extra gear that could have took him past the home riders.

SHEFFIELD SCORERS – Radek Handke 19(5), Damian Zareba 17+3(5), Richard Hudson 15+1(5),Kyle Holland 13(5), Aiden Owen 13+2(5), Bobby McMillan 12+2(5), Zach Smurthwaite 8(3),Mick Knowles 7(3).
BURY SCORERS – Ben Scrannage 13+2(5), James Elston 12(5),Neil Howarth 12+1(5),Kristian Ramsden 11+1(5), Will Owens 10(5),Danny Taylor 8(5),Dawid Renc 6(4),Will Thacker 3+1(2).

Sheffield start the division two match as unbeaten league leaders, with Bury having posted only two wins (on the back of finishing runners up in the 2013 season). Heat 1 goes to the formbook as Matt Parrott and Niall Morton sweep past the fast starting Danny Taylor for a Rockets 7-3. Heat 2 goes to James Elston with Louis Turner riding an excellent defensive race to keep Ed Morton at the back and the Comets take a 6-4. Sheffield hit back with a second 7-3 from Vicky Brown and Luke Morton to lead by 18-12 and it looks like a repeat of the Division One match. The expected Sheffield charge is well and truly quelled by the Comets. Starting in heat 4 as Joe Holleran takes the race win from Rebecca Davies. Niall Morton is held up for three laps by the young Turner, who again displays excellent defensive tactics. James Bunting wins heat 5, but Luke Morton crashes off trying to squeeze between Elston and Taylor. Will Thacker and Steve Mann then gain a 6-4 over the Sheffield reserve pairing of Davies and Dan Rushton. Elston and Taylor win heats 7 and 8 to put the scores at Sheffield 42 Bury 38 at the interval. Niall Morton gets his marching orders in heat 9 after cutting across the line of Thacker. Brown wins the re-run, but the Comets 5-4 brings them to within 3 points. Parrott executes a brilliant pass on Elston in heat 10, with Davies keeping Mann at the back for a Sheffield 6-4. Taylor wins heat 11 and there’s still only five points difference with four races to go. With Mann having injured his back in heat 10 the Comets are forced to introduce Daniel Bowler from reserve in heat 12. Ed Morton guides Davies to a 7-3 win as the Rockets open a 64-55 advantage. Niall Morton then defeats Elston, with Parrott remounting after a fall to claim third and effectively seal the match points. Ed Morton wins heat 14 and the match points are secured, but Comets pair of Thacker and Holleran keep Brown in fourth place. Parrott finishes the match off with another great pass, this time on Taylor, as Sheffield run out winners by 81-68. GB ladies pair of Vicky Brown and Rebecca Davies heads the Sheffield scorers, with six of the team recording a race win. Danny Taylor and James Elston both record two wins each, with Joe Holleran and Will Thacker also gaining wins for the Bury team.

SHEFFIELD SCORERS – Vicky Brown 15(5), Rebecca Davies 14(5), Matt Parrott 13+1(4), James Bunting 10(3), Ed Morton 10+2(4), Niall Morton 10+1(4), Luke Morton 8+3(4), Dan Rushton 1(1).
BURY SCORERS – James Elston 16+1(5), Danny Taylor 16(5), Will Thacker 13(5), Joe Holleran 9+1(5), Louis Turner 7+1(5), Steve Mann 5(3), Daniel Bowler 2(2).

Finally it was the League 3 encounter (for Under 13 riders) and Bury had brought nine riders with them, an excellent attendance (and the best by some margin for a visiting side at Sheffield). With several of the Bury riders aged 5 and 6 the decision was to split the Individual format into Under 8’s and Over 8’s. Once again there was some entertaining racing provided by the youngsters, the wide open spaces of the Cookson track being helpful to new riders. Sheffield’s duo of Joe Brownell and Logan Perkins used home track knowledge to the full as they both finished unbeaten. Charlie Thacker the best for Bury with four second places.

SHEFFIELD SCORERS – Joe Brownell 16, Logan Perkins 16.
BURY SCORERS – Will Thacker 12, Angel Etheridge 9, Duncan Whalley 9, Zac Thacker 8, Hermoine Whalley 6.

The Under 13’s event provided the main talking point. James Bunting has been nigh on unbeatable in this category, infact his record so far was 71 wins from 72 races. His one defeat came when put on a one lap handicap in a race against the Brownell brothers in 2013. So shock was displayed by the crowd when he inexplicably slid off when leading his final race, he managed to remount and claim second place. Therefore, a winning run of 60 came to an abrupt ending. Dan Rushton was the benefactor of the Bunting slip up and went on to claim joint top scorer. Jack Brownell and Jack Cross both recorded a race win apiece for Sheffield, while Niamh Morton (Sheffield) and Louis Turner (Bury) both recorded two wins each.

SHEFFIELD SCORERS – James Bunting 15, Dan Rushton 15, Niamh Morton 13, Jack Cross 12, Jack Brownell 11, Charlie Cottam 11.
BURY SCORERS – Louis Turner 14, Daniel Bowler 8, Sean Etheridge 7, Daniel Miller 6.

When the individual scores were totted up Sheffield were victors by 109-79 to maintain their unbeaten League 3 record, and keep pace with leaders Astley. Bury’s bonus point keeping them in third place.