MATCH REPORT: Comets progress to play-Off final

Report by Graham Sutton

Harbourside regulars were treated to a wealth of good racing in the SSW Regional Play-offs which saw defending KO Cup holders Poole progress through to the national final in a fortnight’s time. The Comets were made to fight all the way by Horspath who came fully loaded and kept the hosts honest until the closing stages.

Newport and Exeter played their full part in the racing spectacle despite the scoreline and were able to secure race wins despite the strength of the top two clubs.

In the run up to the interval, the Comets and Hammers were neck and neck as the Poole “B” quartet were matched by their rivals who were boosted by the inclusion of experienced Sean Rudman and Danny Harper.

After the break, the Comets pulled out an 8 point lead in the next block of 4 races but the Hammers pegged a point back to trail by 7 with 7 heats remaining.

Two race wins in quick succession for Fraser Garnett riding from the number 9 position sealed the win for Poole and a storming win from the back by Ben Mould with a trademark pass on Lukas Nowacki in the penultimate race sent the home fans home happy.

There were notable performances from Connor Tucker and Ben Stanbury for Exeter with Lauren Hookway good value for her 9 points and the whole squad gave 100% in all their races. Adam Bennett and Mark Carmichael were each able to win races for Newport as their blend of youth and experience kept them just ahead of Exeter in the quest for 3rd place.

Horspath were solid from 1 to 8 with an even points contribution from all of their “A” and “B” riders which is the key to success in this KO competition. Wil Jeffrey and George Horsley caught the eye with their determined efforts while Lukas provided his usual guile and experience. On this performance, the Oxford club can consider themselves unlucky not to have made the final itself as they had a team easily capable of winning it.

Every rider in the nine man Comets squad was able to win at least one race in a solid and consistent performance as they held their nerve despite the early challenge from the Hammers. Ben Mould was imperious as ever and Fraser Garnett proved to be a trump card at reserve taking 15 big points from his carefully selected outings. A successful defence of their KO title is achievable on this performance but will depend on how quickly they can adapt to the very different racing style needed at A&T.

POOLE 108 – Ben Mould 16, Wil Bristowe 15, Fraser Garnett 15, Aaron Smith 13, Matt Mildon 12, Greg Gluchowski 11, Kyran Yeatman 10, Nathan Goulden 9, Jay Briggs 7

HORSPATH 92 – George Horsley 14, Lukas Nowacki 1,3 Wil Jeffrey 13, Jack Ellis 12, Sean Rudman 11, Jake Neighbour 10, Danny Harper 10, Zac Payne 9

NEWPORT 61 – Mark Carmichael 11, Adam Bennett 11, Chris Davies 9, Colin Simmons 7, Dan Bock 6, Callum Goward 6, Pete Sadler 4, John Brosnan 4, Ieun Davis 3

EXETER 56 – Connor Tucker 11, Ben Stanbury 9, Lauren Hookway 9, Andy Yard 5, Rob Geach 5, Craig Nethercott 5, Ben Robinson 4, Andy Collett 4, Dan Winchester 4

Referee – Dave Dart