WEEKEND PREVIEW: Home nations do battle, Elite League round 7 and Women’s League
Elite League action is back again this weekend in one of the more crucial weekends in the title race. We also see the return of the Women’s League, but first, Ipswich host the Home International and Celtic Cup tomorrow.
Home International and Celtic Cup
In the senior event England have won the Home International every year since Wales last won in 2007, this year is as good a chance as any for the Welshmen to wrestle it back from English hands. Their squad is strong and consists of Ben Mould, Mark Carmichael, Jack Harold, Nicky Evans and Mark Winwood. England line up with Paul Heard, Myke Grimes, Lewis Osbourne, Ben Scranage and Zac Payne, all have hit solid form of late.
Leading the Scotland charge will be Edinburgh talisman Mikey Hewitson, a rider who could have easily been in with a shout for a GB slot after some excellent team performances for Sheffield this year, but sadly missed out. Two more Falcons join Hewitson, giving Scotland and authentic look about them this year, with Craig Newsome and Jake Slight joining the long trip to Suffolk. Birmingham’s Nathan Groves completes the line up with another outing for the Scots. Ireland have home track heroes in Lewis Roberts and Charlie Rumbold lining up alongside Craig Norton and Gary Colby, with young Ciaran Collins taking part in both the junior and senior meetings.
In the junior event England have a formidable line up featuring Astley & Tyldesley’s Reece Pollit, Ipswich boys Richard Fellgett and Pierce Bacon, Coventry’s Mason Phillips and Hellingly’s Jesse Moore. Scotland also have a handy looking squad, with Sheffield’s Kyle Holland and Wednesfield’s Lee Kemp joining Edinburgh youngsters Dougie Morgan and Louis Kennedy.
Wales turn to the Bennett cousins, Adam and Sean, Adam especially is improving all the time having made several appearances in Newport’s Elite League side this year. Joining them is Ieuan Payne of Underwood, who races for Birmingham in the Midland League and Wednesfield’s Carl Parfitt completes their line up.
Ireland’s Junior team for received a double timely boost this week as both Hethersett’s Adam Reeve and Norwich’s Ciaran Wenn, who were both doubtful due to injuries, have both recovered to be able to make their International debuts. Hethersett’s Katie Adams and Astley & Tyldesley’s Ciaran Collins complete Ireland’s squad.
Further team news for the Celtic Cup sees Carl Winwood, Dan Bock & Chris Davis join the Welsh side.
There are potential banana skins for the leading two clubs this weekend as Wednesfield and Sheffield face difficult trips to Ipswich and Poole respectively. We stay in Suffolk for our first look at round 7.
Ipswich v Wednesfield
Ipswich will hopefully have all their available riders ready to face the Aces, after a depleted Eagles side travelled to Sheffield two weeks ago and lost heavily. They will certainly need them. The Aces are ready to turn the screw but did show signs of cracks in round 5 against a weaker Horspath side, throwing away points with gate exclusions. Ipswich can trouble any team on their home turf, so Wednesfield will need all of their composure to see the job through, should the racing be close. You’d be a fool to bet against the league leaders though, they certainly have the depth to get the job done.
Poole v Sheffield
This is a huge match for the stars and they know it. With a rider or two missing and the fact that they’re away from home plays into the hands of the host side. They will still have a team to take care of business and that is something they must do, or the title race will probably be over. Poole on the other hand have nothing to lose. The big three of Gluchowski, Wheeler and Harris will always cause problems, it’s their young riders who the focus will be on, can they step up and take the points from the Stars? It is sure to be a close one.
Horspath v Newport
Horspath got back to winning ways in a close match against Poole two weeks ago, which was much welcomed by the Village club, after a difficult run, losing out at home to Sheffield and away at Wednesfield. The top two could always slip up, so all hope is not lost yet and all is still to play for. Mark Carmichael will look forward to a trip back to the Village and with Jack Harold’s appearance in the home international, it could mean he may also make another appearance, boosting their chances. However, it should still be straight forward for the Hammers, any slip ups here would see them cemented in mid-table.
The popular Women’s League makes its way over to Wales for round 3 at Underwood. It features inter-region matches, with women and girls from all four regions competing in team matches before two tier individuals afterwards. The Midlands and East teams were victorious last time out at Hethersett.
Other racing this weekend sees Norwich and Hethersett hosting round three of their Go-Ride series, while Bury host Glasgow and Edinburgh in the Northern League. Lots of miles to be covered this weekend by many, enjoy your racing and tune in on Sunday for the results.