MATCH REPORT: Lions defeat the league leaders
After the Lions being taken to the cleaners two weeks ago in both Div 1 & 2, it was time to take on the league leaders Great Blakenham who have only been beaten once to date this season.
With their heat leader trio of Brooke, Osborne and Peck all present, expectation of a victory was somewhat wishful thinking for the Lions, even with the welcome return of Jesse Moore and Steven Archer.
Great Blakenham won the coin toss and chose to go off 1-3 in heat one and produced the heat winner in the first three races, Hellingly content to settle for the 2nd/3rd placings to bring the score chart to 15pts apiece.
All was to change in heat 4 as Steven Archer and Neil Hollebon rode to an emphatic 7-3 maximum. Heats 5 and 6 produced a 6-4 score to either team with Hellingly maintaining their 4 point lead. The gremlins took charge in at the start of heat 6 as an electrical fault developed in the starting gate taking 15 minutes to rectify.
With another 6-4 to Great Blakenham in heat 7, followed by two drawn heats in 8 and 9 at the interval, Hellingly’s lead had now been reduced to just 2 points with the score standing at 46-44.
The second half of the meeting proved to be very tactical, but Hellingly eventually ran out comfortable winners 93-85.
To sum up the meeting, Great Blakenham had both Josh Brooke and Lewis Osborne go unbeaten and produced 12 out 18 race winners. Their downfall was suffering three exclusions, two of which were due to riders falling and being lapped.
Conversely, even though Hellingly only produced 6 race winners, their winning key factor was heat advantages of either 6-4 or 7-3’s. Even more surprisingly, the Lions only had 4 last placings in the 18 heat match, proving just what a superb team performance this was with 7 of the 8 riders netting double figures plus.
A warranted special mention for Eddie Ridley who despite riding with constant knee pain, achieved a crucial race win in heat 6 (pictured below) finishing with a very creditable 12+2 score.
Hellingly 93 Great Blakenham 85
Neil Hollebon 16+2, Steven Archer 14+2, Jesse Moore 13+1, Martin Hollebon 13+1,George Morley 12+2, Ed Ridley 12+2, Jim Cox 11 Jamie Morley 1.
Great Blakenham 85
Lewis Osborne 20, Josh Brooke 19+1, Adam Peck 14, JonJo Slaughter 8+1, Keanu Bowers 9, Adam Cooper 9, Bill Rhodes 3,Sam Broom 3.
With the intense heat and the Division 1 match taking almost 2 hours to complete, it was agreed by all for this match to race over 13 heats. Although the score card showed Hellingly winning by 12 points, the match proved to be very entertaining.
For Great Blakenham, Adam Cooper and Keanu Bowers gave it their all, but the Lions showing their superior track knowledge when it mattered.
Probably the best race of the day was heat 13 nominated. Unbeaten Keanu Bowers was the key rider for Great Blakenham versus the Lions two Harry’s (Sexton and Ridley). The match was already won by Hellingly, but you try telling these young lads that!
Tapes up and Keanu was gone looking a certain winner on the first lap. On the exit of the first bend, lap 2, Harry Sexton made a superb pass on the inside and took the lead.
Unfortunately for Harry, Keanu repaid the compliment on lap 3 with everyone believing that was it – race over. Not Harry! He kept the pressure on the leader resulting in Keanu making a forced error on the final bend with Harry passing him yet again to take the win to the ecstatic crowd. What a guy!
All credit to Keanu for sportingly shaking Harry’s hand even though he deprived him of an ‘unbeaten’ score.
Hellingly 71 Great Blakenham 59
Harry Sexton 16+2, Ed Ridley 14+1, George Morley 13+1, Steven Archer 12+1, Jamie Morley 9+1, Harry Ridley 4, Jim Cox 3.
Great Blakenham 59
Keanu Bowers 19, Harvey Smith 7+2, Adam Cooper 12, Sam Broom 9, Bill Rhodes 6, Gavin Whitehouse 6+1.