The Monarch Oxford Cheetahs saw their Knockout Cup campaign end in Dorset on Wednesday night following a 52-38 reverse to defending champions Poole Pirates.
Cheetahs slipped to a 12-point aggregate loss, but took the meeting’s outcome down to the concluding three races where an unfortunate – and spectacular – crash for skipper Scott Nicholls ended the visitors’ then slim hopes of reaching the final.
Nicholls’ throttle jammed open while Cheetahs held a necessary 5-1 in Heat 13 which would’ve cut the aggregate deficit to six points. The skipper was launched in the air and landed heavily before returning to his feet after a period of medical attention.
There was reason to celebrate post-meeting, though, as Sam Masters’ triumph in Heat 15 earned the 2017 Australian Champion a full maximum on the night.
Reacting to the result, Cheetahs Team Manager Peter Schroeck said: “We’re disappointed to exit the KO Cup, but we pass on our congratulations to Poole who are worthy finalists.
“We had a couple of moments go against us for sure, but that’s the nature of any sport and we can’t let it get to us. What I was encouraged by was our determination to fight and not roll over when the going got tough.
“We were right in the meeting until Scott’s throttle got jammed midway through Heat 13 and without that it could’ve been a different story. I must applaud the supporters of both the Cheetahs and Pirates.
“There was a real carnival atmosphere on the terraces for both fixtures and it made for a great spectacle. We’re already looking forward to our Championship fixtures later in the season against the Pirates, we’re building a healthy rivalry which is great for both clubs and the sport.”
The Monarch Cheetahs return to action on Wednesday, June 7, at Perry Barr against Birmingham Brummies in the British Speedway Championship. Tapes-up is at 7.30pm.