MATCH REPORT: Saints scare Stars
Report by Rob Mawhood, Photos by Nicola Banyard
The League’s top two met at a dry, sunny Firth Park track to serve up an enthralling match that saw the fortunes swing back and forth for both teams.
Holidays left both teams with selection headaches. Heckmondwike naming three ex-Halifax / Sowerby Bridge stars (Mark Rushby, Ian Johnson and Steve Muff) while Sheffield promoted their own returnee (Jack Brownell) to a heat leader role.
Heckmondwike went ahead in heat 4 with a 6-4 result, which followed three drawn races, Mark Rushby (former British Under 15 champion) getting the first of four race wins. Sheffield responded with a maximum 7-3 in heat 5. Jack Brownell forcing a way past Darren Kent and joined by Wil Banyard for a Stars 1-2. Rushby showed his speed and talent with an outside pass on Lizzie Rigley in heat 6 for a Saints 6-4 and the scores were back level. Saints capitalised on Patrick O’Shea’s tapes exclusion in heat 7 with a 7-2 race result, Kent shepherding Ian Johnson from the attentions of Brownell. Saints led 40-38 at half time, following a Stars 6-3 in heat 8 (Steve Muff excluded for obstructing Sam Stansfield). Sheffield were back in front by 55-53 after successive 6-4 results in heats 10 and 11. Banyard being strong enough to force his way past a tactical riding Kent in heat 11. Saints levelled the scores again in heat 13 with a 6-4. Rushby completing his excellent afternoon with a fourth race victory. A last bend pass by Brownell over Pat Beacock saving the Stars from going behind. Stars all but sealed victory with a 7-2 in the penultimate heat, Muff again excluded for obstruction on Stansfield (leaving Johnson on his own from grid 4 against Stansfield and Laura Watson). Kent won the final race from grid one, with the quick starting Stars pairing of Banyard and Rigley happy to keep Beacock in fourth place. Final score Heckmondwike 71, Sheffield 76.
HECKMONDWIKE SAINTS (71) – Pat Beacock 10+1, Mark Rushby 19, Darren Kent 16+1, Ian Johnson 9, Justin Naylor 10+1, Steve Muff 7+1, James Vanner DNR
SHEFFIELD STARS (76) – Will Banyard 18+1, Sam Stansfield 11+1, Jack Brownell 14+1, Patrick O’Shea 6, Lizzie Rigley 16+1, Laura Watson 11+1, Oliver Banyard DNR, Eddie Owolabi-O’Shea DNR
Referee – Robert Mawhood
Again it was holidays that restricted the number of under 10’s and 13’s for the Division Three match, Sheffield winning by 56-12 with a numerical advantage of five riders to Heckmondwikes sole rider. Eddie Owolabi-O’shea was unbeaten in the under 10’s, with the Saints James Vanner pushing hard in all four races. The under 13’s was an all Sheffield affair. Oliver Banyard completing a four ride maximum, Robin Darlington taking four second places. Danny Cowley’s last race third place over Toby Darlington stopping the run of same results for the other three races.
HECKMONDWIKE (12) – James Vanner 12.
SHEFFIELD STARS (16) – Eddie Owolabi-O’Shea 16.
SHEFFIELD STARS (40) – Oliver Banyard 16, Robin Darlington 12, Toby Darlington 7, Danny Cowley 5.
Referee – Darren Kent