MATCH REPORT: Vikings defeat Rockets in season closer
The second leg of the Inter City trophy between the Sheffield Rockets and the Northumbria Vikings had the visiting Vikings take the spoils with a 76-74 victory, for an aggregate win of 151-149.
Vikings manager Neil Magee named the same seven that rode the first leg, while Sheffield moved Sam Haines up from reserve and gave debuts to three under 14’s in Joe Twigg, Evan Swaby and Damian Pelaczyk. The teams once again used the motor speedway formula of seven riders (with extra reserves if required) over 15 heats. Dan Redshaw and Keith Oldham started the match with a well taken 7-3 in heat one, to put the Vikings into a lead they never relinquished. Andy Knowles won heat 2, but Swaby made a good pass in his first competitive race on Dan Thompson to square the heat.
Jason Keith won heat 3, with both Kyle Holland and Joe Twigg using the wide-open spaces of the Cookson track to get past Neil Magee to tie the race. Dan Wharrier had to pass Adrian Brownell in heat 4 to maintain the Vikings four point advantage. Holland and Twigg got a 6-4 in heat 5, both having to make passes on Redshaw and Oldham, to reduce the lead to two points. The Vikings then hit successive 6-4’s to lead 38-32 after seven races. Keith having to survive a strong challenge from Pelaczyk. The Zielna Gora youngster having his first race on English soil.
Oldham made sure of another drawn heat in race 8, holding off a fast finishing Swaby, to send the teams into the interval with the Vikings leading by six. The Rockets got back into the match with a 7-3 in heat 9 from the Holland/Twigg pairing, the Vikings Wharrier falling on turn two as Holland sped past around the outside. Keith made a good inside pass on Pelaczyk to win race 10 and draw the heat 5-5. The Polish junior showing plenty of straight line speed, but struggling a little with cornering. Adrian Brownell, as he did at Cramlington, rode a brilliant race to keep the younger and faster Redshaw behind in heat 11. But Oldham maintained the Vikings lead after re-passing Lee Cottam on the last lap after the Sheffield rider slipped his pedals on the exit of turn two.
Pelaczyk replaced Swaby in heat 12 and the Rockets levelled the match with 6-4, Holland executing a beautiful pass on Keith. Heat 13 saw the two Dan’s, Redshaw and Wharrier out for the Vikings. The impressive duo taking a 7-3 win to put Northumbria four up with two to race. Twigg won his first race in heat 14, but Magee and Knowles filled the minor positions to keep the Vikings advantage.
The nominated race left Sheffield needing a 7-3 to draw the match and share the Trophy. Holland and Pelaczyk came out for the Rockets with the Vikings sending out Wharrier and Redshaw. The Vikings had inside grids and Redshaw made the most of grid one to speed away. Holland kept Wharrier at the back for two laps, then gave chase to catch Redshaw. The Sheffield rider pounced on the last corner with an inside dive to pinch the race. However, Wharrier withstood the strong challenge to keep second place and a Vikings win. A brilliant match, once again ridden in great spirit by these two teams. Roll on next year if this is the sort of entertainment provided by this competition.
Sheffield Rockets – Kyle Holland 19, Joe Twigg 11+2, Damian Pelaczyk 10, Evan Swaby 9+2, Adrian Brownell 7, Paul Fisher 7+1, Lee Cottam 6, Sam Haines 5+1
Northumbria Vikings – Dan Redshaw 17, Jason Keith 15, Dan Wharrier 13+1, Andy Knowles 11+1, Keith Oldham 10+2, Neil Magee 6, Dan Thompson 4.