MATCH REPORT: Stars do the double over Lions
The Hellingly Lions took on the Norwich Stars at their circuit involving a journey of 160+ miles in the scorching sunshine. Unfortunately yet again, key riders were missing due to work commitments, holidays and injuries. On arrival spirits were high and all were prepared to get on with the racing even with the news that Norwich had named their strongest team.
The Division 1 meeting started as an evenly matched contest with the first three heats shared at 5 points each to bring the score to 15-15. For the Lions, George Morley rode a clever race in Heat 1 finishing 3rd and in Heat 2 Harry Sexton took full advantage of a fall by Chris Cullum to gain a superb 2nd place.
Heat 3 was a tapes to flag win for Neil Hollebon to set him on his way to an unbeaten score of 19+1 from 5 rides. The same has to be said for Norwich’s Craig Norton, who also went unbeaten netting 18+2 after 5 rides from the number 7 reserve berth.
Both riders were not programmed to race each other, so no race would decide who would be ‘top-dog’ of the day, so scores remained even. Paddy Wenn for Norwich had a day he would rather forget, suffering a fall and exclusion in heat 8, followed by slipping on the loose surface whilst leading in heat 15 gifting the lions with a 7 -3 heat win. Throughout heats 1 to 17, there was never more than 7 points between the teams, but in heat 18, Norwich gained a 7-3 to give them a comfortable 11 point win.
In truth, with Hellingly only having just two recognised heat leaders in Neil and Martyn Hollebon, and with 12 yr old Harry Sexton somewhat out of his comfort zone, it was a superb team effort by all to run Norwich that close.
It was also good to see Ethan Page back on a bike after being sidelined with an injury for 6 weeks, although not yet match fit. Were the Lions able to have fielded a more complete team, even just one more heat leader, the outcome would most surely have been different!
Norwich Stars 95
Craig Norton 18+2, Leigh Grange 15+1, Chris Cullem 15, Jamie Medlar 13+3, Paddy Wenn 10+2, Gary Colby 11, David Spauls 8, Alex Dyball 5+2
Hellingly Lions 84
Neil Hollebon 19+1, Martyn Hollebon 16+1, Jim Cox 15+1, Ed Ridley 10, George Morley 9+1, Harry Sexton 7, Jamie Morley 4, Ethan Page 4
With the unforgiving brutal sunshine (hovering around 30 degrees), track conditions were on the difficult side being very dry, dusty and slippery.
The division 2 encounter appeared to be a much more even affair, with both teams having a mixture of youth and experience making a match forecast result impossible – and so it proved with the scorecard see-sawing from one team to the other with never more than a 2 point margin throughout the 16 races.
It was a classic cycle speedway match, albeit division 2, but the above average crowd of spectators were well entertained. It would be unfair to single out any one rider from either team as all gave 100% effort.
For Norwich, Jamie Medler showed his experience going through the card with an unbeaten 24 points. For Hellingly, both George Morley and Ethan Page turned on the gas and scored freely feeling more at home with riders of the same age group.
Likewise, Harry Sexton was also far more at home at this level and demonstrated once again that he just doesn’t know the meaning of fear.
The score chart read Norwich 76 – Hellingly 74 after heat 15 with just the nominated heat remaining. Predictably, Norwich selected Jamie Medler and David Spauls, their two most experienced riders, whilst Hellingly went with George and Ethan. Norwich won the coin toss for gate positions giving Jamie Medler gate 1 which he won at a canter to complete his maximum. The two Lions tucked in behind for 5-5 drawn heat which resulted in the Stars taking overall victory by just 2 points.
Overall the meeting was fiercely contested but in a sporting manner to which both teams deserve credit for.
Norwich Stars 81
Jamie Medler 24, David Spauls 17, Alex Dyball 16, Scott Colby 11+1, Tom Blackmore 7, David Blackmore 5, B. Allerton 1
Hellingly Lions 79
George Morley 21, Ethan Page 17+2, Ed Ridley 16, Harry Sexton 11+1, Jamie Morley 9+1, Harry Ridley 5
Report by Brian Davidson