MATCH REPORT: Two last heat deciders at a wet Redbraes

Sheffield’s trips to Edinburgh are usually met with wet conditions and a defeat, except for 2017 when the Stars pulled off a shock win.

This year was no different. A heavy downpour before and during the matches made conditions very difficult and led to a lot of mopping up in between races.

Both teams were missing riders, both the two sets present put on an entertaining match that went to a last heat decider, the Falcons triumphant by 91-89 to move back into play-off contention.

Defeat for the Stars means it is the wooden spoon in 2018, the lowest finishing position since 2011.

The close match, there was never more than four points separating the teams, started with a Falcons 6-4 from Jake Slight/Gavin Kennedy.

Sheffield levelled in heat 3 with a 6-4 from Laura Watson/Niall Morton and
went four in front with their only maximum seven points in heat 4 from Adam Watson/Kielan Burton.

The next four heats all finished even, with the Stars having an interval lead on 42-38. Edinburgh levelled the scores with the first of two maximum seven pointers, Gavin Kennedy/Jason Keith getting the better of Laura Watson/Kielan Burton.

The teams swapped 6-4 race wins in heats 12 and 13 and with heats 14 and 15 drawn, the scores were level at 75-75 as the match entered the nominated races. The Falcons went in front for the first time since heat 1 with their second maximum 7 points in heat 16, Gavin Kennedy/Jason Keith over Luke and Niamh Morton.

Niall Morton/Laura Watson raced to their third 6-4 heat win to reduce the Falcons lead to just two points. Cometh the hour and cometh the man. Northern Champion Jake Slight winning the last heat, ahead of Adam Watson, to secure victory for the Falcons.

EDINBURGH FALCONS – Jake Slight 20+2, Gavin Kennedy 15, Dode Mitchell 6, Neil McPherson 17+3, Jason Keith 19+2, Neil Swanson 7, Dominic Cifelli 7, John Murphy DNR

SHEFFIELD STARS – Niamh Morton 7+1, Adam Watson 21+1, Luke Morton 14+1, Kielan Burton 13+2, Niall Morton 21, Laura Watson 13+1, Steven Webber DNR.

Referee – Ewan Tulloch

The Division Two match also went to a last heat decider, this time in Sheffield’s favour as the Stars won by 76-74 to keep their championship hopes alive. Sheffield led after a 6-4 result in heat 2 from their Womens GB pairing of Laura Watson/Niamh Morton.

Four drawn heats followed, with each team having two race winners (Johnny Murphy and Neil Swanson for the Falcons and Laura Watson/Kielan Burton for the Stars). Johnny Murphy and Neil Swanson teamed up for a 6-4 in heat 7 to level the scores, Johnny using all of his 60 years’ experience for his second race win.

Sheffield went back in the lead as Laura Watson/Kielan Burton recorded the only maximum seven point race score in heat 9. Edinburgh hit back with 6-4 wins in heats 10 and 13 to level the scores at 65-65 with just two races remaining. Kielan Burton won heat 14 for the Stars (his fourth race win), with Dominic Cifelli and Neil Swanson ensuring it was a tied 5-5 result.

The last race and Luke Morton sprints away for his fourth race win, while Steven Webber gains the required third place that gives Sheffield an invaluable win.

EDINBURGH FALCONS – Gavin Kennedy 17, Ewan Tulloch 10+3, John Murphy 12, Iain MacDonald 4+1, Dode Mitchell 8+2, Dominic Cifelli 13, Neil Swanson 10+1.

SHEFFIELD STARS – Luke Morton 19, Edward Balfour 4, Niamh Morton 7+1, Laura Watson 17+1, Steven Webber 9+1, Kielan Burton 19, Erin Balfour 1.

Referee – Jake Slight

Sheffield were defeated by 26-44 in the Division Three match. Stars Edward Balfour racing to his first maximum score, with sister Erin bagging her first double figure score.

For the fledgling Falcons Maxwell Newsome and Amy MacDonald lost only to Edward. Nathan and Oliver Slight scoring points vital for the victory.

All the youngsters enjoying racing through the puddles. Sheffield slipped down to fourth in the table, with Edinburgh strengthening their hold on runners up spot.

EDINBURGH FLEDGLING FALCONS – Maxwell Newsome 15, Amy MacDonald 14, Nathan Slight 10, Oliver Slight 6.

SHEFFIELD STARS – Edward Balfour 16, Erin Balfour 10.

Referee – Ewan Tulloch