Saturday, June 15, 2024
CheetahsOxford Speedway

REACTION: “We now simply need to look forward and make sure we do the business for the rest of the season. We’ve got a good bunch of boys and we’re keen to do it.”

MONARCH Oxford Cheetahs were eliminated from the Knockout Cup, after a 38-52 defeat at Poole’s Wimborne Road last night (Wednesday), with the Poole Pirates completing a 96-84 aggregate victory in the semi-final, as Cheetahs’ seven-match unbeaten run came to an end, despite a brilliant 15-point full maximum for No 1 Sam Masters.

While the scores from last night suggest a comfortable aggregate victory for Pirates – who trailed by two points from the first leg at Oxford on Tuesday – two races proved pivotal.

Heat 3 saw Poole’s Ben Cook fall by himself on the second bend. With Lewis Kerr and Jordan Jenkins holding a 4-2, referee Simon Humphrey-Kennett didn’t stop the race immediately. It was only when it was clear that Cook wasn’t going to get to his feet, that the red lights came on, with Cook then jumping straight to his feet. It’s speedway’s equivalent of a ‘professional foul’, but Humphrey-Kennett compounded the situation by allowing all four riders in the re-run, much to the annoyance of the large travelling Oxford support.

Sure enough, Ben Cook joined brother Zack Cook for a 5-1 in the re-run in a race which had a major effect on the overall momentum of the night. Both of the talented Cook brothers went on to enjoy a tremendous evening, while it also placed Pirates ahead on aggregate.

By Heat 13, Cheetahs trailed by ten points overall, and needed a 5-1 from Masters and skipper Scott Nicholls to stay in contention. The duo led, when Nicholls’ throttle jammed entering the second lap. He reared alarmingly entering the first turn and took a heavy tumble. But, after an anxious couple of minutes, he got to his feet. Nicholls took a knock to his ribs and took no further part in the meeting.

There was a good atmosphere for the meeting, due to the large crowd inside Wimborne Road. But it certainly wasn’t a night for the speedway connoisseur, with not one single pass after the opening lap in the 15 races. An enforced lengthy sun-break after four heats didn’t help conditions, with the track left highly dry and dusty for the rest of the evening.

Cheetahs took the lead with a 4-2 from Masters and Heeps in Heat 1, but a 5-1 for Poole in Heat 2 followed by a further maximum in the controversial Heat 3 moved Pirates 12-6 ahead on the night and 56-52 ahead on aggregate.

Nicholls and Masters won the next three races, while Kerr and Jenkins took a 4-2 from Heat 7 to peg back the difference to just two points on aggregate.

The next two races were a big blow for Cheetahs, as Pirates took successive 5-1s from Heats 8 and 9. The latter heat was the race of the evening – it didn’t have much competition. The Cook brothers got the better of Nicholls on the opening lap. Nicholls tried all he could to get back on terms, but Ben Cook held him off and Pirates took a further maximum. A magnamious Nicholls congratulated both the young Australians on the warm-down lap.

Kerr and Jenkins took a 4-2 from Heat 10, before Nicholls’ fall in Heat 13 completely extinguished Oxford’s hopes.

Heat 15 had to be started three times, but eventually resulted in a 4-2 for Masters and Kerr, with Masters completing an immaculate 15-point display. Masters, Nicholls and Kerr won nine of the 15 races between them, but Poole are a very solid side, especially around their own track. Four Cheetahs only scored six points between them, but it certainly wasn’t through a lack of effort.

It was also Cheetahs’ first defeat for 54 days since they lost at the same venue on Good Friday (April 7).

Producing such a lengthy unbeaten run bodes well for the rest of the season, and Cheetahs’ attentions switch back to the Cab Direct Championship next Wednesday at Birmingham.

In the meantime, three Cheetahs – Jenkins, Henry Atkins and Ryan Kinsley – will ride three times for the WSRA Oxford Chargers, at Edinburgh and Berwick this weekend, and at home to Mildenhall Fen Tigers at Oxford Stadium next Tuesday (June 6).

Speaking post-meeting, maximum man Sam Masters said: “Unfortunately, we didn’t get through to the final of the cup, which is what we came here for.

“We win as a team and lose as a team. Maybe if I could have scored a few more points in the first leg at Oxford, that would have made it easier, but we still probably wouldn’t have had enough points for tonight. But we gave it our all and we can’t do anything more.

“The track wasn’t too bad to start with tonight, but it just got slicker-and-slicker and it was a bit gate and go towards the end. Poole always put together a strong team and they are hard to beat, but we did our best as a team.

“It was a really unfortunate when Scott came off. He was looking really fast tonight. We were on for a 5-1 and that would have left us with a chance, and it might have been a different story. We hope Scott is okay, because we need him.

“We’re out of the cup, but there’s still plenty to aim for in the league. We now simply need to look forward and make sure we do the business for the rest of the season. We’ve got a good bunch of boys and we’re keen to do it.”

Poole Pirates 52: Steve Worrall 7+1, Anders Rowe 4+1, Ben Cook 10+3, Zach Cook 11, Richard Lawson 8, Kyle Newman 8+5, Adam Roynon 4.

Monarch Oxford Cheetahs 38: Sam Masters 15, Cameron Heeps 1, Lewis Kerr 10, Jordan Jenkins 3, Scott Nicholls 7, Henry Atkins 2, Ryan Kinsley 0.

PHOTO: Sam Masters receives the bumps after completing his maximum (pic: STEVE EDMUNDS)