MATCH REPORT: Stars open 2024 campaign with victory over Saints

Report by Rob mawhood, photos by Jess Banyard and Hecknmondwike CSC

Sheffield Stars raced to victory by 81-68 in their 2024 opening North & Scotland League Division Two campaign at Heckmondwike on Sunday afternoon. The match paired the 2023 seasons top two in Division Two, with Heckmondwike having completed the double over Sheffield. Darren Kent won heat one, the first of four race wins on the day for the Heckmondwike number one, though the heat was shared. Lizzie Rigley’s return to Sheffield colours was a winning one as she won heat two, Oliver Banyard in third place to see Stars take the lead with a 6-4 race win.

Sheffield provided the race winner in each of the next seven races (two for Wil Banyard and Kieran Hale and one each for Laura Watson and Oliver Banyard). Though young Banyard had a minus one for movement at the tapes for his heat 7 race win. With Sheffield leading by 51-38 going into heat 10 the Saints were able to claim inside grid positions. Heckmondwike took 6-4 advantages in heats 10 and 11 to move within nine points (50-59), race wins from Kent and Pat Beacock. Sheffield had inside grids in heats 12 and 14, closing out the match with a double 6-4 race advantages, both featuring Joe Brownell.

Sheffield had ten race winners, spread over five different riders with Heckmondwike having five race winners, four coming from Kent. Kent lost just once, to Wil Banyard, while both Rigley and Wil Banyard were defeated by Kent only.


HECKMONDWIKE SAINTS (68) – Darren Kent 18+1, Justin Naylor 10, Pat Beacock 9, Elliot Long 9+1,
Dan Green 13+1, Lee Warhurst 4, Phil Vanner 5

SHEFFIELD STARS (81) – Kieran Hale 16+1, Laura Watson 12+1, Oliver Banyard 11, Lizzie Rigley 16+3,
Wil Banyard 18, Joe Brownell 8.

Referee – Stuart Hardaker

Just three riders contested the Division Three match. Sheffield’s Oliver Banyard racing unbeaten but
Heckmondwike’s duo of Joseph Green and James Vanner saw the Saints winners by 20-16.


Heckmondwike Saints (20) – Joseph Green 12, James Vanner 8

Sheffield Stars (16) – Oliver Banyard 16.