MATCH REPORT: Wales take home first senior Home International since 2007

The South East Regional Centre at Great Blakenham was the venue for the 2018 Home Internationals and Women’s Regional Pairs a week last Saturday.

It was the Women’s Pairs which opened the day’s proceedings and featured pairings from the North & Scotland, South East & Eastern and South West & Wales regions. The Midlands were unable to raise a team on this occasion meaning 6 of the 12 races were contested by 2 riders.

The North & Scotland pairing of Emily Burgess (Astley & Tyldesley) and Laura Watson (Sheffield) opened up with a 6-4 over the South East & Eastern pairing of Chloe Pearce & Charlie-Jane Herbert (both Ipswich) and were never headed, recording two further 6-4’s & 2 7-0’s (where they would have raced the Midlands).

They shared the final heat with the South & South Wales pairing of Exeter duo Lauren Hookway and Miah Laing to take the win with 37 points. That shared final heat was enough for Hookway and Laing to take 2nd spot with 34 points ahead of Pearce, Herbert and Gemma Hill who finished on 31 points.

North & Scotland 37
Emily Burgess 23(6), Laura Watson 14+3(6)

South & South Wales 34
Lauren Hookway 17+3(6), Miah Laing 17(6)

South East & Eastern 31
Chloe Pearce 13(6), Gemma Hill 10(3), Charlie-Jane Herbert 8+2(3)

Referee – Ray Pyke

Next up was the Over 40’s Home International and after the 1st 9 heats, England led the way with 29 points having won 6 of the 1st 9 races, Dave Frith and Dan Zagni winning heats 1 and 6 respectively for the Home Nations Select and Ireland’s Paddy Wenn winning heat 5. The Home Nations Select held 2nd place with 21 points after the 1st 9 races from Wales on 20 and Ireland on 18.

Wales recorded what would be their only 2 race wins in heats 10 and 11 courtesy of the Winwood brothers, Carl and Mark, the latter inflicting Craig Marchant’s only defeat of the match.

Heat 12 saw Frith record his 2nd win of the match in a re-run race following an exclusion to Colin Simmons. Ireland co-manager Gary Colby took 2nd place ahead of World Veterans Champion Norman Venson.

Heat 13 saw Jason Ashford record his 3rd win before Wenn took his, and Ireland’s, second race win in the second reserves race. Having suffered two last places following falls in his first two races, Rob Geach won a re-run heat 15 ahead of Joe Beuckman and Ireland co-manager Steve Copping (who was returning to the track for the 1st time since the World Championships in Australia in November),┬áColin Simmons having picked up his 2nd exclusion of the match.

Marchant then sealed the match for England with his third win in heat 16, before Zagni won his second race in heat 17 to all but seal second spot for the Home Nations Select. Frith sealed that second spot in the last race, finishing third behind Mark Winwood (whose second place brought in third place for Wales), whereas Ashford won the race to complete a maximum.

England 57
Jason Ashford 16, Craig Marchant 15, Norman Venson 10, Rob Geach 8, Paul Timms 8

Home Nations Select 42
Dave Frith 13, Dan Zagni 13, Peter Ingram 9, Joe Beuckman 7

Wales 39
Mark Winwood 12, Carl Winwood 10, Dave Murphy 10, Steve Clark 4, Colin Simmons 3

Ireland 36
Paddy Wenn 14, Gary Colby 11, Ray Pyke 6, Steve Copping 5

Referee: Terry Ashford

Next up was the Junior Home International and it was dominated by England who provided the race winner in all but 5 of the races, Fraser Garnett (Wales) winning 3 of those races (heats 5,14 and 15), whilst Ben Tinsdale (Scotland) took heat 4 and Great Blakenham rider Adam Cooper (Ireland), using his home track knowledge to inflict the only defeat on Pierce Bacon (England) in the final race.

England won the match with 65 points, whereas Cooper’s win in the final race meant Ireland snatched 2nd place on 38 points ahead of Scotland & Wales who finished on 37 points each with Tinsdale winning a run-off from Dan Wright (Wales).

England 65
Ewan Hancox 16, Will Jeffery 16, Pierce Bacon 15, Ed Morton 14, Max Evans 4

Ireland 38
Adam Cooper 12, Ciaran Collins 12, Jimmy Wassall 6, Scott Colby 6, Kieron Alton 2

Scotland 37
Ben Tinsdale 12, John Hutton 9, Lewis Alsop 8, Vas Hill 8

Wales 37
Fraser Garnett 13, Dan Wright 9, Taylor Walters 7, Ryan Winwood 4, Billy Winwood 4

Referee: Ray Pyke

The Senior Home International rounded off the days action and saw the title go to Wales for the first time since 2007. England had led by 8 points after heat 7 but Wales then won the next 5 races to move into a 2 point lead, England’s Ashley Hill having suffered an exclusion in heat 12.

Two further wins and a second place for England cut the gap to 1 point after heat 15 but heat 16 saw Wales all but seal the match with a second place for Adam Bennett behind Ireland’s JonJo Slaughter and ahead of Scotland’s Joe Beuckman, England’s Adam Peck having picked up an exclusion.

This meant that Wales needed just 5 points from the last 2 races to take the win which they got with second places for Wil Bristowe and Fraser Garnett behind Hill and Josh Brooke respectively. Wales finished on 60 points ahead of England on 58, Ireland on 30 and Scotland on 20.

Wales 60
Mark Carmichael 15, Fraser Garnett 14, Ben Mould 14, Wil Bristowe 11, Adam Bennett 6

England 58
Lewis Osborne 15, Josh Brooke 15, Ashley Hill 11, Chris Jewkes 10, Adam Peck 7

Ireland 30
JonJo Slaughter 11, Harley Hamill 7, Craig Norton 5, Leon Mower 5, Steve Copping 2

Scotland 20
Nathan Groves 8, Ben Tinsdale 6, Joe Beuckman 6

Referee: Terry Ashford