MATCH REPORT: Stars stunned by Saints

Report by Rob Mawhood

Heckmondwike Saints stunned the Sheffield Stars at the Graves track, winning a last heat decider to claim a 74-73 victory in this North and Scotland League Division Two fixture. Stats are being checked but it looking like this is Heckmondwikes first victory over Sheffield in fifteen years.

The match was full of thrills and spills, them the last race drama thrown in for good measure. Dan Green took a heavy fall in heat 2, the resulting 6-4 race advantage giving Sheffield an early lead by 11-9. Two shared heats followed before we saw an incident packed heat 5. Green again fell, gaining an exclusion when he found his bike to be unrideable. Then Mark Rushby and Jack Brownell were involved in a high speed crash, the worst seen at the Graves since the days of Elite league racing. Brownell was excluded for his part in the action, with Rushby sitting out the re-re-run due to injured ribs. Sam Stansfield beat Elliot Long to increase the Sheffield lead to 25-22. Heat 6 and it was Justin Naylor who fell heavily while leading, bringing down both Laura Watson and Oliver Banyard. Sam Stansfield won his second race in heat 7, coming from grid 4 around the outside of Pat Beacock and the out of sorts Dan Green. Wil Banyard and Joe Brownell won the next raced for Sheffield, but the heats were drawn leaving Sheffield ahead by 46-41.

Jack Brownell had a fine win in heat 10 over Darren Kent, with Laura Watson in third to give Sheffield a 6-4 and further increase their lead to 52-45. Heckmondwike reduced the arrears by two in heat 11, Rushby and Stuart Hardacre gaining a 6-4 after Sam Stansfield slid off while challenging Rushby. Two more drawn heats followed in heats 12 and 13, Beacock getting his first race win in heat 13. Sheffield led by five as they went into heat 14 with Joe Brownell and Kieran Hale on insides. Justin Naylor and Stuart Hardacre had other ideas as they raced to a 7-3 maximum heat win to leave the scores at 69-68 to Sheffield as we went into the 15th and final heat. Mark Rushby sped away from grid one to take the chequered flag ahead of Laura Watson, with Darren Kent content in keeping Sam Stansfield at the back to give the Saints a 6-4 result and an historic victory.


Sheffield (73) – Laura Watson 13+1, Oliver Banyard 9+2, Sam Stansfield 13, Joe Brownell 12+1, Jack Brownell 8, Kieran Hale 6, Wil Banyard 12.

Heckmondwike (74) – Mark Rushby 14+1, Stuart Hardacre 12+1, Dan Green 3, Pat Beacock 15+1, Darren Kent 15+1, Justin Naylor 11+1, Elliot Long 3, Elise Metcalfe 1.

Referee – Kyle Holland.

Sheffield won the Division Three match by 32-16, being very grateful to the debut of Darcy Greatorex in the under 10s. Darcy attended with her school on Thursday, impressing the Sheffield coach with her riding skill and passion for the sport.
As the only under 10 racing she got an adjusted 16 point maximum, after four races against under 13s. Oliver Banyard was unbeaten for Sheffield winning all four races, with Elliot Long and Joseph Green filling second and third place in each race.


Sheffield (32) – Oliver Banyard 16, Darcy Greatorex 16.

Heckmondwike (20) – Elliott Long 12, Joseph Green 8.

Referee – Kyle Holland.